THE Herts Falcons vs Harlow Nationals showdown was billed as the biggest game of the NBL season so far, and it certainly lived up to the hype.
Among the spectators at Grovehill Ballpark was the GB senior national team manager, Sam Dempster, who had the opportunity to assess several possible candidates for the GB Team for this year’s European Championships.
The Falcons started game one with 2011 NBL Best Pitcher, Robbie Unsell, but the Nationals took a 3-0 lead in the second innings with a home run.
Nationals pitcher Roberto Almanzar was very effective in the first few innings, but the Herts batters eventually found their rhythm.
They tied the game 5-5 in the fourth inning and took a 9-5 lead going into the sixth.
Harlow responded with a home run by Luis Goncalves, and followed that with a three-run home run by Edwin Alcantara to tie the game 9-9 in dramatic fashion.
Tensions were running high as the Falcons players felt that Alcantara’s reaction as he trotted around the bases was disrespectful towards Herts, and a potential brawl was narrowly avoided.
Into the top of the seventh inning, the Nationals continued their relentless offence, bringing four runs in.
That lead was too much for Herts to claw back and Harlow held on to record the victory.
Darrin Ward started game two for the Falcons, in his first appearance since his move back to Herts from the Essex Arrows.
He was in commanding form and, by the third inning, Herts held a commanding 13-1 lead courtesy of home runs from Ryan Bird, Cris Hiche and Mike Osborn.
The nationals launched a spirited fightback, but the Falcons stayed in control to take the game 15-10.
Jarrod Pretorius is the fielder pictured trying to stop a ‘line drive’ - ‘home run’ NOT involved