Haloes earn crack at title
7 September 2019
After years of moderate achievement at A Grade level, East Belmont Saints have won through to the GBA Grand Final with an 11-6 result over Guild at Geelong Baseball Centre this afternoon.
A tight contest through four, the game came alive in the fifth, when Saints responded to a Lions challenge with a four-spot followed by five more in the sixth to establish a game-breaking lead that was efficiently protected by Emerson Rickard in relief of fellow southpaw Cody Anderson.
With Trevor Elliott (four hits), Dion Kirchner (three hits), Steven Fox (three RBIs) and Will Brennan (three RBIs) showing the way in offence, Saints have secured their first A Grade Grand Final appearance since winning the title in 2008 – and just their second in the past fifteen years since nailing back-to-back flags in 2003 and 2004.
Saints will meet Bellarine in the A Grade Grand Final at Geelong Baseball Centre on Saturday 14 September.
A GRADE PRELIMINARY FINAL: SAINTS 11 defeated GUILD 6
Taking advantage of a Saints error, Guild plated a run in the first off starter Cody Anderson, who settled quickly into his work and went scoreless through the next three – including a run of four straight strikeouts – while his side levelled it up with an unearned run in the bottom of four off Hayden Peoples, who gave his side another quality start.
Losing his radar in the fifth, Anderson walked five of seven hitters he faced – for three runs - before Emerson Rickard was called upon to stem the flow with this game certainly on the line.
Facing a decent deficit, Saints seemingly relished the departure of Peoples for Jarrod Durston, who tattooed one hitter, walked another and conceded six hits – including a Will Brennan triple - in a sustained outburst that gleaned a five-run lead for the haloes after six.
While Travis Duxson restored some balance for the Lions, the damage had been done – delivering Rickard a substantial buffer within which he could operate in closing out the contest against an opponent that was unable to produce the irresistible offence that has been its trademark this season.
Although Anderson issued a generous eight passes overall and his side coughed up a couple of unearned runs, Guild could muster just six hits over the nine-innings contest, with Jarrod Durston (two hits and two RBIs) being the standout.
By contrast, Saints had contributors throughout the order, with prime movers in Trevor Elliott (four hits and an RBI), Dion Kirchner (three and one), Brennan (one and three), Steven Fox (one and three) and Keenan Spence (two hits).
In qualifying for the final week of competition, Saints have brought an end to a remarkable run of ten Grand Final appearances on the trot for Guild – including eight pennants during that era. For Saints and Bellarine, this will be the first time in twenty-five years that they have contested an A Grade Grand Final – an achievement that in itself is worthy of celebration.
Scroll down for a selection of images from the A Grade game (kindly supplied by Mark Lazarus).
The A Grade Grand Final will be played at Geelong Baseball Centre (GBC 1) on Saturday 14 September, starting at 2.00 PM.
GUILD 1 0 0 0 3 1 0 1 0 (6) 1 error
SAINTS 0 0 0 1 4 5 0 1 x (11) 3 errors
Guild: J.Durston 2, R.Stewart, T.Snarey, B.Jensz, J.Renouf
Saints: T.Elliott 4, D.Kirchner 3, K.Spence 2, S.Fox, C.Hughes, T.Huisman, W.Brennan
Guild: J.Durston 2, B.Jensz, J.Wood, T.Snarey
Saints: S.Fox 3, W.Brennan 3, T.Elliott, D.Kirchner, C.Hughes
Guild: H.Peoples 4.2 inn, 5 H, 7 Ks, 1 BB, 0 HPB, 1 ER
J.Durston 0.2 inn, 6 H, 2 Ks, 1 BB, 2 HPB, 8 ER
T.Duxson 2.2 inn, 2 H, 2 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HPB, 1 ER
Saints: C.Anderson 4.2 inn, 2 H, 3 Ks, 8 BB, 0 HPB, 3 ER
E.Rickard 4.1 inn, 4 H, 4 Ks, 1 BB, 0 HPB, 1 ER
Making the A RESERVE playoffs after a strong second half-season, Bellarine conceded six to Ballarat Royals in the second before rebounding with seven of their own and careering away for an impressive 17-9 result that brings an end to the Royals’ winter campaign and gives the Bears a real chance of defending their title when they meet Guild Lions in the season decider.
The A Reserve Grand Final between Guild and Bellarine will be played at Geelong Baseball Centre on Saturday 14 September, starting at 11.00 AM.
After a tight first two innings that had the B GRADE game deadlocked at one apiece, Sunshine exploded with three in the third and four in the fourth to gain a substantial break on an experienced Corio Tigers outfit that was unable to make scoring inroads as the Eagles pressed on for a comprehensive 12-1 that earns them a shot at Colac in the Grand Final.
The B Grade Final will be played at Pioneer Park 1 on Saturday 14 September, starting at 1.30 PM.
The B RESERVE Preliminary Final developed into a slugfest with Deakin taking the honours 27-11 over Corio, qualifying the Blues for a Grand Final rendezvous with North West Titans.
The B Reserve Grand Final will be played at Pioneer Park 2 on Saturday 14 September, starting at 11.00 AM.
In C GRADE, Deakin engineered a thrilling 13-12 win over Corio, earning the Blues a Grand Final match-up with Ballarat Royals.
The C Grade Grand Final will be played at Pioneer Park 2 (synthetic field) on Saturday 14 September, starting at 11.00 AM.