Hawks start strong but there’s struggles for Falcons, Raptors

Mike Cresswell stretches to make a catch for the Herts Hawks.
Mike Cresswell stretches to make a catch for the Herts Hawks.

The opening baseball league action at Grovehill in Hemel for 2018 saw the Herts Hawks facing the London Marauders in the AA division on Sunday.

The Hawks reached the playoffs last year in their first season back at that level, and have their eyes on an even better finish this year.

It didn’t begin well, though.

Starting pitcher Andrew Slater was shelled for eight runs in the top of the first inning, including a home run.

However, The Hawks struck back, completing a great comeback to tie the game at 9-9 in the fourth frame.

They wound up as 12-11 victors.

Slater was credited with the win, while Louis Hare got the save.

Crafty veteran Darrin Ward was on the pitching mound for the second half of the double-header, making his Hawks debut.

He was dominant over seven innings as his side took the win, 13-3.

On Grovehill’s other baseball diamond, the Herts Falcons of the NBL were also making their first home appearance of the season after splitting last week’s double-header in Essex.

A powerful Southampton Mustangs side had much the better of game one, winning 12-2.

But game two was a different prospect.

The Falcons’ young star, Conner Brown – who spent part of last season playing with the Cologne Cardinals in Germany – pitched all seven innings superbly, and delivered with the bat, too.

Early hitting had the game tied at 8-8 after three innings, and at 10-10 after four, before the former national champion Mustangs secured a 12-10 victory.

The last game of the day featured Herts single-A side, the Raptors, which features a number of novices and youngsters.

They faced the London Musketeers, who are favourites for the post-season.

The visitors took advantage of some defensive stumbles to strike first and take the lead, and never looked back, eventually winning 17-5.

There were still high points for the hosts – teenager Oliver Durer made an exceptional catch deep in the outfield and DH John Kjorstad delivered consistently with the bat.