Grand Final Preview 2016

Senior Grand Finals will be played at Geelong Baseball Centre on Saturday 27 August, with double-headers at the stadium and at Pioneer Park (East Belmont Saints). The C Grade Final will be played on the Pioneer Park synthetic diamond.

Please note the starting times for lower grades, which are earlier than during the regular season.

Should weather or light intervene, senior games will be rescheduled to Sunday 28 August (with a possible variation in starting times).

Best wishes to all teams for the weekend’s round of Grand Finals!

Scroll down for Grand Final Schedule. Finals Procedures are available HERE.

GBA GRAND FINAL 2016
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GUILD LIONS                    versus                      DEAKIN BLUES
Geelong Baseball Centre, Saturday 27 August, 2.00 PM start
Weather:   Mostly sunny, light north-westerly winds, 16C
 

Just nine innings of baseball intensity remain in A Grade competition for 2016 as a determinant for which of these two quality bayside clubs will make history.

For Guild Lions, Grand Final success would deliver the club a remarkable sixth A Grade pennant on the trot to set a league record that is hardly likely to be surpassed in any of our lifetimes – unless by the same club, next year.

For Deakin there is the opportunity to break the sequence of Guild successes by posting the club’s first A Grade title since 2000 and its fifth overall since stringing together three straight in the early eighties – a generation ago.

Both are grand Geelong baseball clubs who have helped set the pace over recent seasons and who are equally well-motivated to achieve the ultimate in a season finale that is expected to be played out in perfect baseball conditions at Geelong Baseball Centre.

Regular season results between these two clubs remain academic - and largely immaterial. However, what will be in the minds of many – going into this contest – will be the cracking Semi-Final clash a fortnight ago that saw an undermanned Guild effectively pinch the game 8-7 after Deakin had appeared the better side for much of the day.

Since then, Deakin has tuned up with a 3-0 win over Bellarine in a Preliminary Final dominated by Deakin starter Tayler Rowe – who was arguably not at his best for the Semi-Final clash.

So has anything changed since the Second Semi-Final that might have a direct influence on this game?

Well, we know that Guild tyro James Wood has returned to college in United States. We know that classy infielder Ryan Darcy is sailing the seven seas (but will be tuning in on social media from somewhere). We know that club stalwart Lee Harty has a broken thumb and that a number of other senior players might be carrying injuries.

By contrast, Deakin is expected to enter the contest at full strength. It may have derived benefit from two tough, tense games in consecutive weeks and it may sense that it has peaked at the most opportune time.

With its A Reserve side playing in the curtain-raiser Grand Final, Guild will certainly be challenged for pitching depth and will clearly be looking to Brad Egan and Andy Radevski to contain a Deakin offence that did just enough to get past Bellarine Bears in the Preliminary Final.

We know that these two clubs – between them – have five players named to the Geelong Baseball Association All-Star team at Presentation Night last Saturday evening in recognition of the influence that they have exercised during this season.

Of that quintet, Liam Spence and Chris Durston have built outstanding seasons for Guild, while starting pitcher Tayler Rowe, third-sacker/DH Cameron Gibbons and infielder Kelii Zablan have been superb for the Blues. Aside from the All-Star nominations, both clubs are stacked with individuals who have proven themselves time and again to be quality performers at A Grade level.

Spence, Tony Kilfoyle and Ryan Stewart were damaging for Guild with the bat in the Second Semi-Final, while Harry Levy is an ever-dangerous presence along with Jarryd Durston and Jordan Lekkas. With an arguably deeper offence boasting a number of long-ball options, Deakin will place its offensive trust in the likes of Shannon Hornstra, Zablan, Chris Webb, Gibbons, Cam Lyons, Nathan Holmes and phlegmatic Andy Medew behind the dish.

Both sides can be expected to play tight defence behind two of the better starting arms in the competition – the seasoned, reliable and proven Guild big-game performer Brad Egan and the explosive Deakin starter Tayler Rowe, who has the capacity to dominate any side on his day.

With a stunning record in this league – he has been winning pitcher in six Grand Finals over the past decade – Brad Egan is presented with another golden opportunity, although he will need to be at his sublime best against a Deakin outfit that on paper can anticipate great things from its staff of Rowe, Zablan, Jaramillo and Webb if required.

THE OUTCOME

Without planting a geriatric kiss of death on any of the aforementioned players, I have the sense that Egan, Rowe and Zablan hold the keys to this contest. If Rowe is at his best – and can maintain his composure in any tough situation – Deakin will be well-placed to restrict Guild to a losing score. In the field, in relief and with the stick, Zablan looms as a key factor in this contest – a man who could turn the tide of the game with a long ball, with brilliant defence or with some quality short relief or end-game pitching.

For Guild to make its own history, a typically Egan-like outing will be required from the big rightie, who has battled through some injury issues over the past twelve months. If he can get through into the seventh or eighth with minimal damage, Guild will be well on track for its sixth consecutive flag. However, he is facing a tough opponent and he will need solid back-up from his defence and from reliever Andy Radevski.

I am tipping Deakin to break the Guild run of dominance at this level. Rowe will spin another pearler for the Blues, who will bring an irrepressible offensive belligerence to the ballpark, will generate a big innings and will do enough to earn their first A Grade pennant in sixteen years.

Deakin by three.

Best wishes to both clubs for a tight and entertaining Grand Final that will showcase some of the very best in Victorian winter baseball.

 

Grand Finals in the lower grades should produce some equally enthralling contests that all appear to be wide open on regular season and finals form.

Holding first or second spot all season, Colac enters the A RESERVE decider as favourite, although Guild has been very impressive in the post-season with two thumping wins that eliminated Lara and Werribee in turn. While Colac belted Guild back in Round Fourteen, the Lions would take heart from knowing that they dealt Colac two of its few losses in 2016 – with wins in Round One and Round Eight. Colac to win this one in a battle of attrition on Guild home turf.

The B GRADE Grand Final could not have been scripted better, with a Bacchus Marsh side dropping back from A Grade pitted against an Alfredton squad that has dominated at this level for some years. Although the Eagles edged home 9-8 back in Round Two, Bacchus Marsh took the chocolates in their other three meetings – including 5-4 results in both Round Twelve and Round Seventeen. With star performers in Chris Porter and James Bailey – who snagged the quinella in B Grade MVP voting – the Marsh will be a tough assignment but will come up just short against the Ballarat club.

Qualifying for the decider after highballing in the top two of B RESERVE all season, Colac will be looking to replicate its 7-4 win over Alfredton in the Semi-Final – although the Eagles will have other ideas should Dan Hamilton be able to dominate on the hill. Aside from that tight semi-final a fortnight ago, these two clubs shared honours over the course of the season – with a win each and a split result in Round Sixteen. Colac to take the honours and make it a sweep for this proud two-team club from out west.

Coming from fourth placing and upsetting Deakin in the Preliminary Final, reigning premier Corio has added massive interest to a C GRADE Grand Final that will be slugged out against a Lara outfit that has set the pace all season. After dropping its first two games to Lara early on, Corio forced a confidence-building draw against the Wildcats in Round Thirteen and edged past Bellarine in the Elimination Final before the stunning win over Deakin. While an upset could be on the cards, Lara would be favoured to win this one.

 

SENIOR GRAND FINAL SCHEDULE 2016
A GRADE GRAND FINAL:   Guild vs Deakin (Saturday 27 August, GBC 1, 2.00 start)
A RESERVE GRAND FINAL:   Colac vs Guild (Saturday 27 August, GBC 1, 11.00 AM - 1.30 PM)
B GRADE GRAND FINAL:   Bacchus Marsh vs Alfredton (Saturday 27 August, Pioneer 1, 1.30 - 3.30 PM)
B RESERVE GRAND FINAL:   Colac vs Alfredton (Saturday 27 August, Pioneer 1, 11.00 AM - 1.00 PM)
C GRADE GRAND FINAL:   Lara vs Corio (Saturday 27 August, Pioneer 2, 12.00 - 2.00 PM)

 

 

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