BRITISH BASEBALL FEDERATION
SINGLE A LEAGUE SOUTH
Haverhill Blackjacks 7 Herts Hawks 21
Despite a man of the match performance from rookie, Nick Kesingland – playing his very first game - Hawks capitalised on a number of errors to run out 21-7 winners.
Alan Symons, pitching his first ever game, blanked the first three Herts batters, including a strike out.
Haverhill’s offence continued this theme as Symons and Kesingland reached home - 2-0 Blackjacks.
In the second inning Herts hit back with two runs of their own, including an RBI (run batted in) double from Ken Pike, and the bottom of the Blackjack’s batting order had no reply - game tied 2-2.
Herts plated two more runs in the top of the third inning to take a 4-2 lead.
Bottom of the 3rd saw the moment of the game for Haverhill as Symons and Kesingland again combined to recover the situation.
Symons reached base with a single and wasted no time in stealing second base with Kesingland back at the plate. After watching the first pitch, Kesingland ripped the second with a stroke straight out of Lords Cricket Ground and sent the home team into raptures as the ball sailed over the centre field fence for a game-tying, two-RBI home run.
Hopefully this will be the first of many Blackjacks home runs at Park Road. Needless to say the ball was signed by the team and presented to him as a memento!
Into the fourth inning, the experience gap between the two teams began to show as fielding errors crept into the Blackjacks’ defence and Herts capitalised by plating four more runs, including a two-RBI single from Greg Bochan and an RBI-Double from Ralph Bartholomew.
Symons ended the half-inning with his third strikeout of the game.
Haverhill had only one run in reply. Ryan Harris hit a double and stole third base before being sent home by another rookie player in the line-up, Nick Hayhoe, who hit a single to record his first ever hit and RBI at the same time.
Herts lead 8-5 into the fifth inning and never looked back.
Their first four batters all made it home, assisted by further errors, before the middle order were put out by some slightly more inspired fielding, including a nice take by third baseman, Blake Broekhove and two force outs at first base taken by first baseman, Chris Loades. Broekhove also scored Haverhill’s only run of the fifth after a sacrifice-RBI from Simon Lee - 12-6 Herts.
At the top the sixth Haverhill manager, Steven Esdale, made a pitching change, sending Ryan Carter to the mound. Carter got off to a flyer with a ruthless combination of fastballs and curveballs for a quick 1-2-3 inning and what could have been a resurgence for the Blackjacks.
It wasn’t to be though, as Herts took no prisoners and replied with their own 1-2-3 inning - still 12-6 Herts.
Haverhill were left floundering in the sixth as Herts turned it on in style and knocked in nine more runs. Haverhill replied with one more run from Broekhove but it wasn’t enough to avoid the slaughter rule and victory was claimed by Herts 21-7.
Some hard lessons were learnt by the Blackjacks, who are a much changed team from last year – of the nine players who took the field, three were starting only their second season (including pitcher, Alan Symons and catcher, Ryan Harris) and three their first ever games!
The team did well to hold their own in the first few innings.
But take nothing away from Herts Hawks; they were well drilled and played simple baseball well and it’s easy to see why they’ve been tipped early on as ones to watch this season.
Next up is a visit from Kent Mariners on Sunday April 19, at Park Road (midday).
The Blackjacks should be clad in a brand new set of uniforms and plan to make this day the official opening of the Park Road field (complete with ceremonial first pitch) which has been made possible through a partnership formed with Castle Manor Academy.
Check out the club’s website, Facebook and Twitter for more info (haverhillblackjacks.co.uk, facebook.com/haverhillblackjacks, @hhblackjacks)