Rams straight through: mothballs for Deakin

Kingsley Collins

1 September 2018

Newport has qualified for the Geelong Baseball Association Grand Final with a 5-2 result in a quality contest over Guild Lions, who will meet Bellarine in the Preliminary Final next Saturday after the Bears downed Deakin 6-1 in the Elimination Final this afternoon.

 

Despite taking an early lead, the Lions were unable to hold off a determined Rams outfit that edged ahead in the third and provided late offensive support to starter David Asp and closing pitcher Jason Lester, while – down at Wallington Reserve – it was the heroics of Lachlan Hockey and Simon Murry that proved too much for Deakin, which bows out of the pennant race after an impressive regular season.

 

Venues and starting times for next Saturday’s Preliminary Finals will be posted as they become available.  

A GRADE QUALIFYING FINAL:   NEWPORT 5 defeated GUILD 2

Playing in A Grade of this league for the first time as a stand-alone entity in over twenty years, Newport has performed at a high level throughout the regular season and has richly earned its shot at the GBA championship in a fortnight.

 

Going with seasoned starter David Asp matched against wonderfully-performed Lions workhorse Brad Egan, Newport absorbed some early Guild offence that gleaned a run – on a Jordan Lekkas double - before the Rams exploited an error and three hits to take a short-lived lead in the top of three before the home side again drew level.

 

However, with Asp appearing to get stronger and with James Wood summoned to the hill to replace Egan after a tumultuous bottom of four, both clubs put up zeroes until Jayde Thorne placed his indelible stamp on a fierce contest with an RBI-single in the seventh followed by a match-defining two-out, two-RBI double in the top of the last.

 

It was a shot that may not have been heard around the world – though it certainly resonated around the Waurn Ponds complex, and perhaps echoed as far west as Cape Town.

 

Although the Lions challenged in the equaliser – and threatened to crack a pressured Newport defence – reliever Jason Lester managed to keep his cool and retire the Guild offence for a famous victory marred somewhat by key ejections for the home club.

 

In a game dominated by pitchers on both clubs, Thorne (three hits and three RBIs) and Troy Malthouse (one and two) played vital roles for the Rams, while Lekkas (two hits and an RBI) headed a subdued Guild offence that hit the ball hard early on but was unable to shake a resolute opponent that will be tough ask again in a fortnight.

NEWPORT   0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 2   (5)  5 errors

GUILD          0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0   (2)  1 error

Hits.

Newport:   J.Thorne 3, A.Green, T.Malthouse, J.Charles, M.Wray

Guild:   J.Lekkas 2, Jarryd Wood, T.Kilfoyle, C.Durston, James Wood, T.Luther-Wilson

RBIs.

Newport:   J.Thorne 3, T.Malthouse 2

Guild:   Jarryd Wood, J.Lekkas

Pitching.

Newport:   D.Asp 6 inn, 7 H, 6 Ks, 3 HH, 0 HPB, 1 ER

J.Lester 3 inn, 0 H, 3 Ks, 3 BB, 0 HPB, 0 ER
Guild:   B.Egan 4 inn, 3 H, 1 K, 2 BB, 1 HPB, 0 ER

James Wood 5 inn, 4 H, 4 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HPB, 3 ER

**SCROLL DOWN FOR IMAGES FROM GEELONG BASEBALL CENTRE THIS AFTERNOON**

 

 

A GRADE ELIMINATION FINAL:   BELLARINE 6 defeated DEAKIN 1

Despite out-hitting the home side fourteen to nine, Deakin was unable to convert its opportunities and could muster just a solitary run – in the sixth, when Cameron Lyons drew a pass, advanced on an infield hit and scored on a double by Hiroshi Narasaki.

 

Even at that point, it had been catch-up for the Blues all game after Lachlan Hockey swatted a two-RBI single in the bottom of the first and plated a third run on a sacrifice flyball in the third.

 

With Simon Murry converting further opportunities with timely base hits in the fifth and the eighth, the Bears were able to hold off a Deakin outfit that made a couple of key defensive errors and stranded eleven runners on base as the home side played solid – and at times brilliant - defence throughout.

 

Carding the win for his club, Hockey had a superb all-round game – tossing six innings for the sole earned run and hitting safely twice for three RBIs – while Murry provided quality support in slamming the gate over three scoreless frames and himself singling twice for two ribbies.

 

Other serious offensive contributors for the Bears were Lewis Weldon (two hits and two walks) and Wayne Visser (double and three walks), while Narasaki (three hits and an RBI), Mark Rigby (three hits), Kobe Greenhalgh (two hits) and Lachlan Medew (two knocks) were productive with the bat for Deakin – which gifted eleven walks to the Bears as Andrew Brady, Pat Moulton and Chris Webb battled for similar command as that exercised by Hockey and Murry.

 

While the Blues will bow out after a solid enough season, Bellarine is still well in contention – though it must first get past its nemesis in Guild Lions, who lowered their colours against Newport in the Qualifying Final.

 

DEAKIN           0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0   (1)   2 errors

BELLARINE     2 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 x     (6)  4 errors

Hits.

Deakin:   M.Rigby 3, H.Narasaki 3, K.Greenhalgh 2, L.Medew 2, A.Medew, C.Lyons, P.Moulton, C.Webb

Bellarine:   L.Weldon 2, L.Hockey 2, S.Murry 2, B.Wells, W.Visser, C.Brown

RBIs.

Deakin:   H.Narasaki

Bellarine:   L.Hockey 3, S.Murry 2

Pitching.

Deakin:   A.Brady 2 inn, 2 H, 0 K, 3 BB, 0 HPB, 2 ER

P.Moulton 5 inn, 5 H, 3 Ks, 6 BB, 0 HPB, 1 ER

C.Webb 1 inn, 2 H, 0 K, 2 BB, 0 HPB, 1 ER

Bellarine:   L.Hockey 6 inn, 9 H, 2 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HPB, 1 ER

P.Brackley 0 inn, 0 H, 0 K, 0 BB, 0 HPB, 0 ER

S.Murry 3 inn, 5 H, 1 K, 0 BB, 0 HPB, 0 ER

**IMAGES FROM THE BELLARINE versus DEAKIN A GRADE GAME (supplied by Mark Lazarus)**

 

IN OTHER GRADES:

Bellarine took its fine regular season form into the A RESERVE playoffs, posting a 7-3 result over Guild Lions, who will have a second chance – although not against their fellow felines, but against Deakin Blues, who came from a deficit to generate one match-breaking innings in downing Guild Cubs 10-5 and knocking them out of contention.  IMAGES FROM BELLARINE versus GUILD LIONS (supplied by Mark Lazarus).

 

As expected, there were a couple of ripper games in B GRADE – with Sunshine punching its ticket for a Grand Final berth with a thrilling 7-5 result over Alfredton - which engineered a late revival that came up just short - and will regroup for a Preliminary Final stoush against Bacchus Marsh, which downed Saints 6-5 to end the haloes’ 2018 season.

 

After blasting seven in the first, Guild withstood an emphatic challenge by Colac Braves in the B RESERVE Elimination Final to land a 14-10 win that has earned the Lions a Preliminary Final showdown with Saints, which was beaten 9-0 by Saints in the Qualifying Final.

 

Guild replicated its success of a few weeks ago – and advanced directly to the C GRADE Grand Final – with a comfortable 10-4 result over Mounties, who will utilise their second chance when they meet with Corio, the 5-4 winner of today's Elimination Final clash against Newport.

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SEMI-FINALS PREVIEW

Kingsley Collins

29 August 2018

A GRADE SEMI-FINALS

 

QUALIFYING FINAL:    GUILD versus NEWPORT

Geelong Baseball Centre, Saturday 1 September, 3.30 PM start

Weather:   Showers, west-south westerly winds, 13C

 

Shooting for back-to-back titles and their seventh in eight years of an extraordinary run in Geelong Baseball Association A Grade competition, the Lions finished as minor premier with eighteen wins and three losses - for a clear break over second-placed Newport.

 

Two of those losses were against the Rams, who triumphed 11-4 back in Round Four and repeated the dose in Round Seventeen with a 12-5 result delivered by virtue of a six-spot in the last. While the first Guild loss could be attributed in part to their using a couple of part-timers on the hill, the clubs’ Round Fourteen clash resulted in a 7-2 win for the Lions, who were given a great start by Brad Egan and cashed in on their offensive opportunities with eleven timely hits.

 

The Round Seventeen blowout came towards the end – after Egan was relieved – suggesting plenty about the importance of pitching depth in a contest expected to go the full nine innings on Saturday.

 

Both clubs have seen a fair turnover in playing personnel during the season, making a prediction for this game somewhat difficult. However, with Newport A Reserve out of contention and with Guild reserves available under the re-entry rule, both clubs should have plenty of bench depth should it be required.

 

Quality outfits, both, with plenty riding on the starting pitching – which is likely to see Egan for Guild locking horns with Jayde Thorne, who has been in fine form with the ball and in offence recently. The nine-innings contest will challenge pitching depth on both clubs – with Newport having relief options in Jason Lester, David Asp and Aaron Green, while Guild will work around James Wood, Jarryd Wood and maybe Jack Smythe in the support role.

 

Both clubs were free-scoring outfits during the regular season, with Guild averaging over twelve runs per game and Newport eleven – the former in testament to the depth consistently provided by Chris Durston, Tony Kilfoyle, Ryan Stewart, Harry Levy, Jarrod Durston, Troy Snarey, Tyler Luther-Wilson, Jarryd Wood and Jordan Lekkas.

 

Newport has the offensive capacity to do real damage through the likes of Zac Seipolt, Troy Malthouse, Thorne, Reece Longstaff, Justin Charles, Heath Black and an in-form Mason Wray, so the Lions will be looking to a dominant start from Egan to keep themselves well in this contest.

 

As expected when they re-entered this league, Newport – a proud club celebrating its ninetieth year – was always going to be a tough opponent. On shown form they are eminently capable of winning this one and going all the way. However, they are up against an outfit that has been there so many times before – with a largely unchanged personnel. Maybe the Lions by two or three in a nail-biter.

 

ELIMINATION FINAL:     BELLARINE versus DEAKIN

Wallington Reserve, Saturday 1 September, 2.00 PM start

Weather:   Showers, west-south westerly winds, 13C

 

While it would be harsh to say that Bellarine has under-achieved over the past couple of seasons – when it has been favoured by many for an A Grade title - the Bears could arguably could and should have done better than a third-placed finish during the regular season but for a drawn contest, a damaging loss to Lara in Round Sixteen and the last-round stumble against Deakin.

 

Meantime, Deakin had a slow start and has steadily built its season to be in with a real chance of progressing further despite two early losses to Bellarine – one on Opening Day (8-6) and the other in Round Eleven, when the Bears played a near-flawless all-round game for an 8-2 win. After winning three from their four games prior to last Saturday, the Blues were able to hold on for a strong 6-5 win to underscore their credentials as a real contender.

 

Both clubs are blessed with a wealth of talent, although Bellarine appears the stronger offensive unit with the likes of Cameron Brown, Wayne Visser, Lewis Weldon, Brock Wells and Simon Murry capable of leading an assault against any arms in the competition. For its part, Deakin will be looking to prime movers in Kobe Greenhalgh, Mark Rigby, versatile Chris Webb, Sam Fraser, Lachlan Medew and Andy Medew to deliver the offence along with Cam Lyons – who swatted two bombs at this same ground last Saturday.

 

Webb and Pat Moulton are likely to share pitching duties for Deakin, although it will be interesting to see if Andrew Brady follows his pattern of spinning a cheap innings or two early on, as he did often in the second half season. While Webb and Moulton are proven performers at this level, it is notable that Deakin conceded 114 runs against during the regular season to just 80 by Bellarine, a statistic that can be in part account for by defensive errors (33 in their first twelve games) that were a factor for the Blues earlier in the season.

 

Scoring 181 runs for the season - compared with 144 by Deakin - Bellarine can also boast quality arms and pitching depth headed by Simon Murry, Pat Brackley, Lachlan Hockey and Brock Wells, with Cameron Brown able to eat up some innings if required.

 

With its first and seconds both playing at Wallington on Saturday, Bellarine has the decided advantage of being able to employ the re-entry rule, while Deakin is forced to split its senior personnel between this game and the A Reserve clash at Geelong Baseball Centre. That and the home ground factor point in favour Bellarine – which has several players capable of turning the game off their own bats. Bellarine by a half a dozen as the Bears qualify for another Preliminary Final.

 

OTHER GRADES

 

Bellarine led the A RESERVE table clearly all season to earn a home First Semi-Final, which will surely be well-supported by the club faithful since the A Grade side will be playing afterwards. The Bears scored 165 runs for the season and Guild Lions 158, indicative of a reasonable comparison on offence – a balance borne out by results in three games played between the sides, which saw Bellarine win twice (6-2 and 6-5 late in the season) and Guild take the third encounter 6-4. Splitting their personnel between two teams after Round One has posed certain challenges for the Guild club, which is in with a real chance but may find the Bears a little too accomplished in this one.

 

After its addition to the A Reserve competition, Guild Cubs had a couple of tough early losses to Bellarine before vying for second placing with the Lions for much of the season. Their record against Deakin is impressive – with a 4-1 win and a 14-4 thumping before the Blues turned the tables for a 7-2 result a fortnight ago. With its firsts playing at Bellarine later in the day, Deakin will struggle for substantial club support, while the Guild hordes will no doubt be out in force at the stadium for a massive triple-header. The Cubs to win through to the Preliminary Final.

 

Although Sunshine and Alfredton dominated the five-team B GRADE competition during the regular season, it is by no means a foregone conclusion that both will progress to the final week. After a rainout between the teams back in Round One, Sunshine – which conceded just 66 runs in fifteen games – enters the Qualifying Final as a clear favourite, having beaten the Eagles on all three occasions (15-7, 12-8 and 14-2). However, the Eagles have a nucleus of skilled, competitive players and they finished their season with three whopping wins behind strong offence and great pitching by Dan Hamilton. This will be a tight contest, at Sunshine, with the Eagles maybe just getting over the line.

 

Except for a blowout last Saturday, when Bacchus Marsh belted Saints 12-1, the record between these two clubs contesting the Elimination Final stacks up pretty evenly – with Bacchus posting 7-5 and 4-0 wins in two games and Saints taking the other 7-4. But while Saints were outplayed in their last two games to hold fourth only by way of three late Deakin losses on the trot, Bacchus Marsh finished its season in style – including a win over Sunshine in Round Seventeen. Former A Grade players in Chris Porter and Roland Shaw are in rare form for the Bacchus Tigers, who should win this one comfortably and advance to the Preliminary Final as a serious threat to Sunshine or Alfredton.

 

Scoring 314 runs in eighteen games for only 26 against (and seven of those in the last round), Corio has blitzed the B RESERVE competition and will start at very short odds against Saints in the Qualifying Final. However, Saints have themselves have been a free-scoring outfit (with 200 runs on the season) and they were not totally blown out of the water in three losses to the Tigers this season (12-2, 12-1 and 10-3). Saints have beaten every other team in the competition and were it not for Corio they would likely have headed the table easily. But with its quality pitching and its offensive capacity, the Corio Tigers should proceed directly to the Grand Final.

 

Well-entrenched in the top four all season, Guild – one of five Lions teams to make the playoffs – will meet Colac in a 10.00 AM start Elimination Final at the stadium. While Guild finished well ahead of Colac – which won its last game to make the playoffs – results would suggest that this game might be a real contest. Although the Lions delivered a 22-2 shellacking in Round 12, Colac had decisive wins in two other encounters between the clubs (18-5 and 17-7). With their balance of older heads and relative youth, the Braves have been a regular at GBA finals series over the years and they will certainly have the capacity and the will to hang in there when challenged. Colac might concede some early runs, but expect them to be right in the finish for this one.  

 

Although Mounties headed the C GRADE table for all of the season, they came back to the field somewhat in recent weeks and they will be seriously tested in the Qualifying Final – even at home – by a Guild outfit that had a comfortable 10-3 win over the Mounts in Round Fourteen (that followed an earlier forfeit in favour of the Ballarat club). The two clubs are probably matched on offence, with the home club scoring 226 runs over eighteen games and Guild 212 over sixteen. Mounties will benefit from the return of the versatile Wayne Drever and with home town support should be able to post a winning score and qualify for the Grand Final.

 

Despite a 16-1 belting that Newport handed to Corio early in the season, these teams appear evenly matched for the Elimination Final – especially considering that the Tigers had a subsequent 7-3 win over the Rams and embarked on a late season six-game winning streak to snatch fourth placing. Four of those wins were by massive margins, suggesting that the Tigers have struck their best offensive form. Sure, Newport could point to their last three winning games – 25-1, 22-16 and 9-0 – although the first two were against Bellarine (last) and Saints Red (second last), while the whitewash was a forfeit received from Guild. Prior to those three results, the Rams had been caned by Saints Black.  Corio to extend its streak and move to the Preliminary Final.

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