Herts Hawks glide past Brighton to reach the NBL finals

Andy Cornish and Andrew Slater, Herts Hawks. Picture (c) Rob Jones

Andy Cornish and Andrew Slater, Herts Hawks. Picture (c) Rob Jones

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The Herts Hawks powered their way into the finals of the National Baseball Championships with a convincing 25-9 win over the Brighton Redhawks.

The Hawks had entered the play-offs as the number 2 seed after a regular season in which they won 11 games, and they will now take on the Tonbridge Bobcats at the Farnham Park complex in Berkshire next weekend.

Brighton came to Grovehill ballpark in Hemel Hempstead as the underdogs but they were quick out of the blocks and scored four runs.

But Herts hit right back, scoring six of their own in the bottom of the first, and another six in the second.

Andy Cornish, one of the top hitters in the league all year, had three hits and batted in two runs. Ken Pike got two hits, and stole a team-leading four bases to help score three runs.

By the end of the fourth inning, the Hawks had taken control and led 18-7. The fifth was scoreless and Brighton managed to score two when they started the sixth. The Hawks extended their lead, though, with a double from Rod Naghar and a hit from Ralph Bartholomew.

When the home side went 15 runs ahead, the game was ended by the umpire on the mercy rule.

Hawks joint-manager Greg Bochan was relieved to get the first round of play-offs out of the way and to lead the team into the finals. He pitched a complete game for the win, striking out three and not giving up any walks.

On Saturday, Herts youth teams were also in action in the post-season. The U12s beat Horsham and Brentwood in their two games and will play in the championship finals later this month.