|GRAND FINAL DAY: Saturday 30 August|
|*** Scroll down for images from senior Grand Finals ***|
Weather and playing conditions could not have been better for a senior Grand Final extravaganza that brought down the curtain on another highly successful GBA winter season.
One of the largest and most engaged crowds in recent league history was in attendance to witness an enthralling day of baseball that produced twin successes for the Guild and Colac baseball clubs, both of whom have shared regularly among the spoils in recent times.
Continuing as the benchmark of the league, Guild snagged its fourth successive A Grade premiership and is surely on target to emulate its "five-for" record of the late seventies and early eighties – long before most of the current crop of players was born. The A Grade victory – against a terrific opponent in Bellarine Bears – followed an A Reserve curtain raiser that saw the club dominate Mounties in a display of depth reflected already in all Guild senior and junior teams making the playoffs. NOTE: The A Reserve result was later overturned by the GBA Board (see below).
In qualifying for its first Grand Final in twelve years, Bellarine breathed new life into the premier competition after a decade of dominance – in pennant wins - by the Lions and Lara Wildcats. However, while the Lions have built a dynasty that will continue into the foreseeable future, other clubs showed enough to suggest that this league will remain a competitive and viable entity in years to come.
While winter baseball can be a fickle conveyance – with players rightly seeking to strike a balance with their personal, work and summer commitments – Bellarine, Ballarat, Lara, Bacchus Marsh and Deakin were well among the action this winter, while East Belmont is a proud club that will always have a presence, Werribee is in a process of rebuilding and Corio has bravely taken the bit between the teeth in continuing to challenge itself in A Grade.
In snaring the B Grade and B Reserve pennants, Colac continues to demonstrate a durability that that has characterised the club over the past two decades – even as other clubs, in other regional areas have unfortunately fallen by the wayside. The Braves just keep coming up.
Well done to all clubs for continuing to support Geelong Baseball Association and for continuing to provide playing opportunities for our young – and even not so young – participants in the sport.
Congratulations to the winning teams and to the winners of individual club or association awards.
|A GRADE: GUILD 6 defeated BELLARINE 2|
A large and appreciative crowd could hardly have hoped for a better display of competitive and high quality baseball than that turned on by two worthy Grand Finalists.
Without regular catcher and dangerous hitter Ryan Stewart, Guild called upon teenager Harry Levy to take up the tools of ignorance in support of workhorse Brad Egan, who quietly and efficiently carded another winning Grand Final – to make it four with the Lions after an earlier success with East Belmont.
Conceding two runs over nine was a stunning performance by Egan against a potent Bellarine offence. Stunning, too, was the game played by Levy – who was named Most Valuable Player after a terrific game behind the dish that saw him throw out two runners in vital situations and lace a momentum-shifting, two-run scoring double that gave his side a lead in the sixth.
Bellarine had the better of the early opportunities, breaking through in the fourth when Josh Crotty doubled to drive a pair across the plate.
Struggling against Bellarine pitcher Simon Murry – who again was magnificent in tossing the complete game – Guild hit back with a run in the bottom of four, went to the lead with the Levy shot in the sixth and put the game effectively beyond reach in the seventh with a three-spot constructed around some small ball, a spate of Bears errors under pressure and a two-run Troy Snarey drive when it mattered.
While Egan and Murry were both magnificent for their respective clubs, there were numerous memorable individual performances befitting of this great contest. Levy was a team leader behind the dish for the Lions - whose youthful outfield snaffled anything that came their way - while Chris Bramwell and Wayne Visser were superb in defence for Bellarine and catcher Brad McKentish showed a welcome return to hitting form as his club matched Guild with eight knocks to nine.
Well played, all, on an intense and high standard game. Congratulations, again, to the Guild club.
|BELLARINE||0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 (2) 6 errors|
|GUILD||0 0 0 1 0 2 3 0 x (6) 0 errors|
|Bellarine:||S.Murry 2, J.Crotty 2, B.McKentish 2, C.Bramwell, W.Visser, L.Hockey|
|Guild:||C.Durston 2, T.Snarey 2, J.Durston 2, J.Lekkas, J.Wood, B.Jensz, M.Miller|
|Guild:||T.Snarey 2, H.Levy|
|Bellarine:||S.Murry 8 inn, 10 H, 2 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HPB, 3 ER|
|Guild:||B.Egan 9 inn, 9 H, 7 Ks, 3 BB, 0 HPB, 2 ER|
|A RESERVE: GUILD LIONS vs MOUNTIES (no result)|
A much anticipated clash between teams that had dominated this division turned into something of a fizzer after Mounties conceded six in the third. While the Ballarat club was similarly tardy in its Semi-Final game against Guild Cubs, a recovery was today not forthcoming as Guild starter Andy Radevski produced his best over five innings against a strong offence forced to endure a mercy-rule finish after an outstanding season.
However, it was later established that Guild was in breach of a Playing Condition relating to the eligibility of players when a club fielded two teams in the same grade. The winning result was overturned and the game was declared a "no result" for purposes of Geelong Baseball Association historical records.
|B GRADE: COLAC 16 defeated SAINTS 1|
Qualifying for the playoffs in the last round of the regular season, Saints – effectively the club’s thirds side - breezed through its Semi-Final game but came up against a tough opponent that hit the ball hard and often. With massive wins in both of its finals, Colac again demonstrated its capacity to deliver at the pointy end of the season – evidenced by the fact that the Braves scored a staggering 58 runs to 2 in its last four games, an avalanche that proved irresistible.
|B RESERVE: 10 defeated LARA 7|
These two clubs set the pace for much of the season and it was no surprise that the game went into overtime after a Roland Stott double levelled the scores at 7-7 when the Braves looked odds-on for the win. However, with evergreen Murray Hillman summoned to the hill to close out the game, Colac held the Wildcats scoreless while themselves plating three – on a combination of wild pitches and decent contact hitting – to put the game beyond reach and throw Braves supporters into raptures.