Bears straight through: Wildcats out of the race

Kingsley Collins

31 August 2019

With Lachlan Hockey and Cameron Brown playing starring roles in a pitcher-dominated affair at Wallington Reserve, Bellarine posted a superb, errorless 3-0 result over East Belmont Saints to qualify for the A Grade Grand Final in a fortnight.

 

Saints will have a second chance in its Preliminary Final showdown with Guild, which was tested mid-game by Lara in the Elimination Final but gathered for a frenetic last several offensive innings to emerge a 17-7 victor on the back of nineteen hits against a quintet of pitchers used by the Wildcats.

 

All Preliminary Finals will be played at Geelong Baseball Centre on Saturday 7 September. Schedule and times will be posted when available.  Our Preliminary Final Preview will be posted during Tuesday. 

 

The last day of a rather miserable winter delivered stunning weather conditions that were the ideal backdrop for Semi-Finals that were played at club grounds throughout the league.

 

The two A Grade finals could hardly have provided a more stark contrast, however – with one gleaning a total of just three runs in an old-fashioned pitching duel and the other morphing into a hitting smorgasbord as eight pitching arms were offered up in an entertaining twenty-four run contest at the stadium.           

A GRADE QUALIFYING FINAL

BELLARINE 3 defeated SAINTS 0

Facing emerging Bellarine power arm Lachlan Hockey, the visiting Saints outfit found it tough going on the Bears home turf, with just a lead-off walk in the first and a Cody Anderson double in the second providing scoring opportunities that proved to be elusive for both clubs in this contest.

 

Playing just a handful of A Grade games this season, two-hitter Cameron Brown opened scoring for the Bears in the bottom of the first with a solo bomb over leftfield – the first of his four hits for the game – and his side tacked on an unearned run in the second, after a muffed flyball.

 

Settling into his work after the early Brown blow, Josh Lee was terrific over six and was able to escape potential scoring situations in the third, fourth and fifth as Bellarine hitters maintained the offensive pressure.

 

Brave as Lee may have been, his side was well and truly stifled by right-armer Hockey, who whiffed eight over six scoreless innings and conceded the solitary hit before handing the pill to Pat Brackley to close out the game with a minimum of fuss after Brown and Manager Lewis Weldon had combined for an insurance run in the seventh.

 

Anderson (two knocks) and Will Brennan were the only players to hit safely for Saints, while Brown (home run, two doubles and a single from five trips) was outstanding for Bellarine, which had other contributors in Kris Kiefel (three hits), Weldon (two hits and an RBI) and Brackley (double) in a contest that was a credit to the pitchers on both clubs.

 

Bellarine has qualified for the A Grade Grand Final in a fortnight, while Saints will regroup for a Preliminary Final stoush with Guild Lions, who have hit form at the opportune time and will be a tough ask at the stadium next Saturday.

A GRADE and A RESERVE IMAGES (kindly supplied by Mark Lazarus)

SAINTS            0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   (0)  3 errors

BELLARINE     1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 x      (3)  0 errors

Hits.

Saints:   C.Anderson 2, W.Brennan

Bellarine:   C.Brown 4 (inc home run), K.Kiefel 3, L.Weldon 2, P.Brackley

RBIs.

Saints:   nil

Bellarine:   C.Brown, L.Weldon

Pitching.

Saints:   J.Lee 6 inn, 7 H, 4 Ks, 4 BB, 0 HPB, 2 ER

E.Rickard 2 inn, 3 H, 2 Ks, 1 BB, 0 HPB, 0 ER

Bellarine:   L.Hockey 6 inn, 1 H, 8 Ks, 4 BB, 0 HPB, 0 ER

P.Brackley 3 inn, 2 H, 2 Ks, 1 BB, 0 HPB, 0 ER

A GRADE ELIMINATION FINAL

GUILD 17 defeated LARA 7

A free-scoring offensive combination throughout this winter season, Guild was well held through the first two frames – by Cameron McNish and Chris Lewis in turn – and it was the Wildcats who looked to have serious intent when Stuart Forbes laced a single up the middle to lead off the first and his side loaded the bases in the top of three.

 

It was the Lions who struck first, though, putting up a four-spot in the equaliser – three of those unearned – and a fifth run in the fourth off Mitch Miller, the third of five pitchers used by Lara.

 

After Hayden Peoples had spun four scoreless innings for the Lions, Lara applied the blowtorch to Jarryd Wood in the fifth - when a walk, a HPB, a fielder’s choice, a sacrifice and four hits produced six for a Wildcats lead that proved short-lived as Guild continued to press against Miller, Dan Anson and Cameron Forbes in turn.

 

While the Wildcats knocked in a run in the top of seven, the Guild offence was irrepressible in putting up crooked numbers through the last four frames for a thumping ten-run break and an early finish protected by closer Jarrod Durston.

 

Team leaders Stuart Forbes (three hits, two walks and two RBIs) and Ross Wilson (two and one) were terrific with the bat for Lara, although their side was comprehensively out-slugged by a Guild offence that amassed nineteen hits – including standout performances by Tyler Luther-Wilson (three hits and four RBIs), Ben Jensz (three and two), Ryan Stewart (three and one), Chris Durston (three and one), Troy Snarey (two and two), Jarryd Wood (one and two at a timely moment), Jarrod Durston and Angus McNee.

 

By any measure this was a comprehensive outing that will provide a confidence boost for Guild as it prepares for a Preliminary Final clash with East Belmont Saints. The Wildcats, on the other hand, can hold their collective heads high in the knowledge that they had a real crack – this game and during this season – when some had written them off as contenders.

Scroll down for images from Geelong Baseball Centre this afternoon.

LARA     0 0 0 0 6 0 1 0   (7)  4 errors

GUILD   0 0 4 1 3 4 2 3    (17)  3 errors

Hits.

Lara:   S.Forbes 3, R.Wilson 2, D.Anson, C.Forbes, L.Arandt

Guild:   C.Durston 3, R.Stewart 3, B.Jensz 3, T.Luther-Wilson 3, J.Durston 2, T.Snarey 2, A.McNee 2, J.Wood

RBIs.

Lara:   S.Forbes 2, C.Forbes, M.Miller, R.Wilson, T.Arandt

Guild:   T.Luther-Wilson 4, T.Snarey 2, B.Jensz 2, J.Wood 2, C.Durston, R.Stewart, J.Durston, A.McNee

Pitching.

Lara:   C.McNish 1 inn, 0 H, 0 K, 1 BB, 0 HPB, 0 ER

C.Lewis 2 inn, 5 H, 0 K, 0 BB, 0 HPB, 1 ER

M.Miller 2 inn, 4 H, 1 K, 2 BB, 1 HPB, 3 ER

D.Anson 2 inn, 7 H, 0 K, 0 BB, 0 HPB, 5 ER

C.Forbes 0.1 inn, 3 H, 0 K, 0 BB, 0 HPB, 2 ER

Guild:   H.Peoples 4 inn, 2 H, 2 Ks, 2 BB, 1 HPB, 0 ER

J.Wood 1 inn, 5 H, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 HPB, 6 ER

J.Durston 3 inn, 2 H, 1 K, 0 BB, 0 HPB, 1 ER

OTHER GRADES.

Guild has qualified directly for the A RESERVE Grand Final with comprehensive 15-3 win over Ballarat Royals, which had some early issues and was overrun in a nine-run fourth innings by the home club. The Royals will meet Bellarine in the Preliminary Final next Saturday, after the Bears eliminated Saints with a strong 11-2 result at home.

 

Sunshine has won through to the B GRADE Preliminary Final, recovering from a six-zip deficit in the first to track down the Alfredton break and run away with a 20-7 win that eliminates the Ballarat club from contention. Colac downed Corio 10-8 in a qualifying thriller that included six home runs, sending the Braves directly to the Grand Final while the Tigers have a second-chance rendezvous with Sunshine in the Preliminary.

 

As expected, the B RESERVE Second-Semi Final clash was a ripper, with North West Titans winning through to the Grand Final with a hard-fought 7-3 result over Corio – who live to fight another day when they meet the winner of Sunday’s Bellarine versus Deakin Elimination Final in the Preliminary next Saturday. Deakin edged home 7-6 in that game to end the season for Bellarine.

Plating seven in the last two innings, Ballarat Royals over-ran Corio 10-7 to secure a C GRADE Grand Final berth, while the Tigers will regroup for a "second chance" Preliminary Final clash with the winner of Sunday's elimination game between Lara and Deakin. In another titanic struggle, Deakin beat Lara 11-10 to eliminate the Wildcats from title contention.

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