After the Mets picked up a pair of reasonably comfortable victories against the NBL newcomers on 14 June, it seemed that maybe Herts’ impressive first-half form might fizzle out into a fourth-place finish. But then, on the Sunday just gone, they bounced straight back up with a sweep of the Blazers.
Lin Yuchih keeps on pounding out hits, Nick Goetz is maintaining his composure up on the mound, while Darrin Ward continues to do both. How many more games do the Herts Falcons need to win in the National Baseball League (NBL) against sides other than my beloved but woeful Pirates before their victories stop feeling like upsets?
The closeness of the top four teams sets up the prospect of some ponderous nights for the managers of Bracknell, Herts, London, and Richmond in the build-up to the end-of-August National Baseball Championship (NBC), with its double-elimination format. Each will need to nurse his team’s pitching and catching resources through at least three games in a little over 24 hours if a trophy is to be lifted.
Before then, we have just over a third of the regular season to go, but with the four NBC berths almost certainly confirmed, there is not a great deal to play for on a team level, pride aside. Fortunately, though, the races for individual statistical categories will guarantee that there is still plenty to discuss in the remaining weeks of the regular season.
Starting with offensive categories, Darrin Ward of the Falcons and Kyle Hickson of the Mets are tied for the lead in the batting average, both having .500, and the home-run category also has joint leaders, with five players all sitting on two. Richmond’s Ryan Bird, last season’s Most Valuable Batter in the NBL, has a league-leading 19 runs batted in, but the race is far from being decided. In contrast, Bird’s team-mate Robbie Unsell looks set to claim the stolen base category, adding seven more on Sunday to take his tally to 19.
In pitching, Darrin Ward became the first player to reach 5 wins last Sunday, while his team-mate Nick Goetz has now pitched a league-best 53.0 innings. Michael Osborn of the Flames has the league lead in strike-outs (41) and WHIP (1.36), while Bracknell’s Matt Maitland maintains his lead in the earned-run average category (2.15) and London’s Jason Roberts does the same in strike-outs per nine innings (11.4). None of the pitching categories are close to being sewn up yet.
There are also the end-of-season Best Fielder awards to play for, and the British Baseball Federation has announced that they will be co-ordinating a poll of managers and scorers in order to name an All-Star team after the end of the season.
For full stats, please visit http://www.gbbsa.org.uk/current.html.