Pandas double up: Burgers left best until last

Kingsley Collins (Update 19 March 2018, with more images)

Already a recognised Masters baseball power after its creation several years ago, Geelong-based Pandas went through undefeated in both the 35 Plus and 45 Plus divisions of the Victorian Masters Baseball Carnival that concluded in Ballarat this afternoon, while Coburg added another title to its awesome winning record by downing Big Cat Tomatoes in the 50 Plus group.

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Despite the almost overpowering winds and the associated dust-storms, competition was intense early on Day Three as several teams staked their claims for a finals berth – a highlight of which was a stirring one-run result over Cheltenham that propelled the Diggers into the 45 Plus playoff.

In the end, though, there was a certain familiarity in the team identities as finals commenced in slowly easing weather conditions.

First to be decided, the 50 Plus group saw Coburg pitted against Big Cat Tomatoes – with both squads clearly feeling the hurt from an arduous couple of days on and off the diamond before the Burgers managed to post an 8-3 win for their umpteenth Masters title.

Effectively spending their pennies in an earlier arm-wrestle against Cheltenham, the Diggers looked good early in the 45 Plus final before Pandas flexed some offensive muscle and drew away for a 14-6 result.

Scoring early in a high-quality 35 Plus final, Big Cat Tomatoes were again forced to settle for second against a powerful Pandas outfit that was irrepressible in offence behind some pitching efficiency to forge away to a 9-2 victory – its third title on the trot at this level.

While winning in Masters sport is viewed by most as a bonus rather an over-riding purpose, this tournament produced a host of hard-fought and tight contests – including one run results, comebacks, fadeouts and tie breakers all played out in the generous and fun spirit that characterises the activity

In recognising the achievement of the winners, we congratulate all teams, and all players, on their contribution to another outstanding celebration of Masters baseball.

We extend our appreciation to Umpires Coordinator Greg Howard and his team, to managers, to scorers, to ground staff, to Ausport Superstore, to host club Ballarat City Brewers and the assistance provided by Mounties and Alfredton Baseball clubs. 

More will be said and written about another terrific Carnival over coming days – and more images will be posted as a memento of the occasion. For now, though, well done to all! Your enthusiastic spirit and your positive engagement are what continue to make this exceptional event a great success.

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DAY TWO.

Kingsley Collins (17 March 2018)

With players undeterred by blustery conditions that afflicted much of the state, the Victorian Masters Carnival produced another terrific, albeit arduous day of competition at Prince of Wales Reserve – setting the scene for some intriguing contests on the final day.

Setting the pace in 50 Plus, Big Cat Tomatoes (3-0) remain undefeated and will meet Sandringham (0-3) in a Sunday morning semi-final - with the Royals mildly desperate to open their winning account with an upset – while Tassy Tigers (2-1) will meet an unusually out of sorts Coburg (1-2) to decide the other grand finalist.

Undefeated after three in the 45 Plus group, both Diggers (3-0) and Pandas (3-0) are not yet assured of a finals berth and we could yet see four teams tied at three wins and a loss – creating various computations in the qualifying process for the playoff. While the Pandas will be confident of their prospects, a Cheltenham (2-1) win over the Diggers in the final preliminary game would be decisive.

Eight of the nine 35 Plus teams have already recorded at least one win from three in what has been a wonderfully even competition. Although Pandas (3-0) and Big Cat Tomatoes (3-0) look odds-on to make the final, Red Sox (2-1) will be plotting a strategy to upset the tournament favourite and force a potential head-to-head situation.   

While the weather may have cooled for the final day - and you will want to hang on to your hat, folks - the figurative on-field heat will be ramped up a tick as each of twenty-one teams strives to finish the tournament on a high.

Oh, and please support the Brewers with their final raffle for the weekend - a Victus Maple Pro Reserve BS23 baseball bat (or equivalent prize in value), kindly donated by Ausport Superstore - who we again thank for their generous support of Masters baseball! The bat will be drawn around mid-afternoon, so please ensure if leaving earlier that you leave a contact phone number to arrange delivery to the winner.

Check back here later on Sunday night and during Monday for a tournament report and more images.

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DAY ONE.

In brief, it was a superb Day One of the 2018 tournament, with the pleasant weather conditions complementing the enthusiasm – nay, the fervour – and the competitiveness of some long-awaited stoushes between a legion of our ageing baseball warriors.

While more comprehensive reports will be posted on Saturday and Sunday, a selection of images below should convey a sense of the engagement and fun generated during Day One, which produced its usual share of nail-biting finishes (including two tie-breakers), stirring comebacks, low-scoring arm-wrestles and, yes, the occasional blowout that can happen in this wonderful sport of ours.

In 50 Plus, an undefeated Tassy Tigers is making the early running in the four-team group, while Pandas and Cheltenham remain undefeated after two games in 45 Plus. Defending its last several titles in 35 Plus, the Pandas have confirmed their early favouritism despite bold showings by other undefeated squads in Big Cat Tomatoes, Sloths and Murray Cods.

See Day One results to the right of this page.

Anything can yet happen, might happen, and will happen. Do not miss the action as the twenty-second Victorian Masters resumes at Prince of Wales Reserve on Saturday – early, bloody early.

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Day Three Results

50 PLUS
Sandringham 9   Big Cat Tomatoes 13  
Tassy Tigers 3   Coburg  7  
FINAL
COBURG 8   BIG CAT TOMATOES  3  
45 PLUS
Fitzroy 4   Bendigo 5  
Pandas 20   Doncaster 1  
Sloths 8   Murray Cods 7  
Cheltenham 11   Diggers 12  
FINAL
PANDAS 14   DIGGERS 6  
35 PLUS
Doncaster 2   Newport 6  
Sloths 5   Tassy Tigers 20  
Newport 6   Big Cat Tomatoes 20  
Murray Cods 19   Rebels 4  
Pandas 13   Red Sox 1  
FINAL
PANDAS 9   BIG CAT TOMATOES 2  

Day Two Results

50 PLUS  
Tassy Tigers 2   Big Cat Tomatoes 13  
Big Cat Tomatoes 8   Coburg  6  
Coburg 11   Sandringham  7  
45 PLUS  
Doncaster 8   Fitzroy 9  
Sloths 0   Diggers 9  
Diggers 14   Fitzroy 3  
Doncaster 7   Sloths 15  
Bendigo 3   Murray Cods 7  
Pandas 10   Cheltenham 2  
35 PLUS  
Sloths 3   Pandas 14  
Pandas 19   Newport 1  
Doncaster 14   Sloths 1  
Murray Cods 4   Tassy Tigers 6  
Tassy Tigers 2   Big Cat Tomatoes 16  
Red Sox 12   Murray Cods 9  
Big Cat Tomatoes 5   Rebels 2  

Day One Results

50 PLUS  
Coburg 3   Tassy Tigers 4  
Sandringham 0   Tassy Tigers 8  
Big Cat Tomatoes 12   Sandringham 3  
45 PLUS  
Murray Cods 6   Cheltenham 9  
Cheltenham 4   Bendigo Dragons 3  
Murray Cods 4   Pandas 10  
Bendigo Dragons 4   Pandas 8  
Fitzroy 2   Sloths 9  
Diggers 5   Doncaster 1  
35 PLUS  
Tassy Tigers 7   Rebels 14  
Rebels 3   Red Sox 11  
Big Cat Tomatoes 12   Red Sox 2  
Murray Cods 4   Doncaster 3  
Newport 3   Sloths 9  
Pandas 10   Doncaster 0