Herts keep post-season hopes alive
PUBLISHED: 08:28 29 July 2014 | UPDATED: 08:28 29 July 2014
Herts Falcons were aiming for two wins in Sunday's National Baseball League double-header against Bracknell Blazers to give themselves the best possible chance of reaching the play-offs, but instead picked up one.
Great Britain national team pitcher Jordan Edmonds was back for Bracknell after his spell playing in America so Herts Falcons’ manager Lee Manning had to decide which of his starting pitchers to put on the mound against Edmonds.
He went with Jose Sosa who has been phenomenal this season. With two innings remaining it seemed that this was the right decision as the Falcons held a 4-2 lead, but the visitors struck back with six runs in the sixth inning to secure a 9-5 win.
There was no time for the Falcons to feel sorry for themselves as a second loss would have ruined any chance of a post-season run.
Up stepped ace pitcher Abel Salas, who was back after missing the previous two weekends. He produced yet another excellent performance, striking out 12 batters and allowing only four Bracknell runs to score. This was enough for a 5-4 win, which went right down to the wire with the tying and go-ahead runs left stranded on base in the final inning.
The defeat in the first game is a big psychological blow for the Falcons as it means they will need results in other games to go in their favour in the remaining three weeks of the season.
However, they are expecting a decision from the league which could swing in their favour. The Blazers have had to postpone three of their previous games on the basis of British Baseball Federation’s rule permitting this when three or more players are called up on international duty.
With three weekends remaining, they may not be able to play all of their postponed games, which may benefit the other teams in the play-off race including the Falcons.
Before they can even start to think about play-off permutations, all eyes will be on Farnham Park this weekend for a do or die doubleheader between the Herts Falcons, currently lying in sixth place, and the fourth-placed Southern Nationals. Two wins for the Falcons will set up one of the most dramatic ends to the NBL regular season in recent years.
Two other teams from Hertfordshire were also in action at the weekend. With several of their players currently in the USA with the Great Britain U17 National Team, Herts Eagles lost both of their games away at the Oxford Kings which puts them out of the Triple-A League play-off race.
In the Double-A League, Herts Hawks lost 10-4 to the Sidewinders leaving them with very little hope of making the play-offs.