Round Fifteen 2014

ROUND FIFTEEN:   Saturday 9 August
***   Scroll down for images from Masons Lane this afternoon   ***

The penultimate round of Geelong Baseball Association competition was thankfully played out in far more salubrious conditions than we have experienced in recent times, although the cold winds were blowing for those clubs who copped an untimely loss in the jockeying for a playoff berth.

In A GRADE we are assured of the top two placings. Still undefeated, Guild will finish heading the ladder – regardless of next week’s clash with Bacchus Marsh – while Ballarat Brewers nailed second by blanking Corio in its last outing of a disappointing season.

Needing two wins from its last two, Deakin faltered against Bacchus Marsh, which sits fifth and is in a ding-dong go to decide the makeup of the final four. Currently third, Bellarine faces a tough contest at Prince of Wales next Saturday, where a win would secure a post-season berth for the Bears but where a loss would edge open the door for Bacchus Marsh – which will play host to undefeated Guild Lions.

If Bellarine loses, Bacchus Marsh will need either a win or a draw against the Lions to sneak into the playoffs. If Bellarine wins, the Bears are assured of a finals berth. For its part, Lara needs a win against Saints to feel secure, although it has a head-to-head advantage over Bacchus should both clubs lose in the final round.

While the Marsh appears to be only a rough chance of getting through, nothing is out of the question. The club is playing terrific baseball and could yet cause a surprise or two – especially given the knock-out nature of the finals series should it get there.

Taking up the challenge to field two sides in A RESERVE this season, the Guild club has engineered what appears to be its ideal scenario heading into the finals. Ensconced in top placing and with a game to come against lowly Bacchus Marsh, Guild Lions will surely finish atop the table. Moving to third with its win over Saints, Guild Cubs are favoured to retain that position and thereby avoid a Semi-Final clash with the Lions.

Second-placed Mounties, though, will have plenty to say about fortunes in this grade, where East Belmont Saints is also assured of post-season action.

GUILD 8 defeated BELLARINE 6

Facing a couple of tough games in the run to the finals, the Bears had the staggers when the visitors jumped them early – to the tune of a five run lead after two, sparked with back to back solo bombs by Troy Snarey and Ryan Stewart in the first.

Uncharacteristically quiet against Deakin last week, the Bellarine offence took it to Guild starter Brad Egan and reliever James Wood, clawing back a couple in the third, a run in the sixth and another two in the seventh to make the game a real contest.

However – with a second Stewart moonshot late in the game, the Lions had enough in the tank for a narrow win in a quality defensive contest by both clubs in support of solid pitching outings that again saw Simon Murry going the distance for Bellarine.

Stewart (three hits for three RBIs, including the home runs) was a standout for Guild, along with Egan, Jarrod Durston and Chris Durston (all with two knocks), while Brad McKentish (four hits), Chris Barker (three hits and three ribbies), Jon Lowe (three and one) and Lyndon Hockey (solo home run) did the bulk of the scoring damage for Bellarine.

Guild will finish a clear leader in the A Grade standings regardless of its away game against Bacchus Marsh next Saturday, while Bellarine treks up the highway to face Ballarat Brewers in search of the win that will secure its place in the post-season.

GUILD 2 3 0 1 0 0 1 0 1  (8)  0 errors
BELLARINE 0 0 2 0 0 1 2 0 1  (6)  2 errors
Guild: R.Stewart 3 (inc two home runs), B.Egan 2, J.Durston 2, C.Durston 2, T.Snarey (home run), B.Jensz, J.Wood
Bellarine: B.McKentish 4, J.Lowe 3, C.Barker 3, S.Murry, J.Crotty, W.Visser, L.Hockey (home run)
Guild: R.Stewart 3, T.Snarey 2, J.Lekkas 2, B.Egan
Bellarine: C.Barker 3, B.McKentish, L.Hockey, J.Lowe
Guild: B.Egan 5 inn, 8 H, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 0 HPB, 2 ER
  J.Wood 4 inn, 6 H, 3 Ks, 0 BB, 1 HPB, 4 ER
Bellarine: S.Murry 9 inn, 12 H, 8 Ks, 2 BB, 6 ER
SAINTS 13 defeated WERRIBEE 8

While nothing in ladder terms was riding on this game, both clubs had the motivation to do well – with East Belmont seeking to finish a somewhat disappointing season on a strong note and Werribee looking to take some momentum into its summer campaign.

Jumping on Saints starter Sean Talbot, Werribee responded to early Saints scoring by smacking four in the first and another three in the second to hold a clear lead against an opponent that was unusually sloppy in defence and conceded a string of unearned runs.

Surging to the lead with a five-spot in the fourth, though, Saints went on to post a comfortable win against a Giants outfit that was seriously competitive and would be well-pleased with the contributions of Clinton Baker (two hits for two RBIs, including a home run in the second), Evan McPherson and Kelvin Hartigan (both with two hits).

Having a great day for Saints, Gerard Carter (two hits and four RBIs) was terrific with the stick along with youngster Tyler Huisman (three hits and an RBI), Kurt Wilson (two and one), Sean Talbot (one and two) and Luke Sherwell (two hits).

Although out of playoff contention, Saints can have a serious bearing on matters when they play host to fourth-placed Lara on Saturday, while Werribee will wrap up its season with an away game against Deakin.

SAINTS 2 2 0 5 2 2  (13)  6 errors
WERRIBEE 4 3 0 0 0 1   (8)   1 error
Saints: T.Huisman 3, K.Wilson 2, L.Sherwell 2, G.Carter 2, S.Talbot, P.Northfield, C.Alldis, L.Anglin, J.Isbister
Werribee: E.McPherson 2, K.Hartigan 2, C.Baker 2 (inc home run), D.Gregory, J.Curnow
Saints: G.Carter 4, S.Talbot 2, L.Sherwell, T.Huisman, C.Alldis, K.Wilson
Werribee: C.Baker 2, D.Gregory, K.Hartigan, J.Curnow
Saints: S.Talbot 2 inn, 6 H, 2 Ks, 2 BB, 2 HPB, 1 ER
  J.Isbister 4 inn, 2 H, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 0 HPB, 0 ER
Werribee: Connor Wilson 3.1 inn, 11 H, 7 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HPB, 9 ER
  J.Curnow 2.2 inn, 3 H, 1 K, 3 BB, 2 HPB, 2 ER
BALLARAT 11 defeated CORIO 0

Scoreless through four innings, this game shaped momentarily as a potential upset but rather quickly took a turn in favour of the Brewers – who opened scoring in the fifth, plundered seven in the sixth and ran away to wrap up a mercy-rule result after seven.

Despite engaging in some banter with the umpiring fraternity, Ross Hipke was the star for Ballarat, tossing the complete game while himself contributing four hits to the Brewer cause.

After a solid first four, Adam Flowers toiled manfully for Corio over the complete game but was unable to contain the Brewer offence and paid dearly for free passes as Hipke, Leigh Ashmore (two hits and four RBIs), Steve Kugele (two and two) and Hamish Burrows cashed in on scoring opportunities for the visitors.

Jarryd Addlem posted two of a handful of Corio hits as Hipke held sway over a scoreless outing that allowed just five Tigers on base for the game.

While it is mothballs for Corio – which has the bye next week – Ballarat will play host to what should be a fascinating and hard-fought game against Bellarine next Saturday, no doubt followed by the historical end of season conviviality between the two clubs.

BALLARAT 0 0 0 0 1 7 3  (11)  0 errors
CORIO 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   (0)   3 errors
Ballarat: R.Hipke 4, H.Burrows 2, L.Ashmore 2, S.Kugele 2, A.Irons, H.Pfeiffer, E.Etheridge
Corio: J.Addlem 2, B.Witham, K.Willmott, A.Flowers
Ballarat: L.Ashmore 4, S.Kerr 2, S.Kugele 2, R.Hipke, H.Pfeiffer
Ballarat: R.Hipke 7 inn, 5 H, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 0 HPB, 0 ER
Corio: A.Flowers 7 inn, 13 H, 3 Ks, 4 BB, 3 HPB, 8 ER

In the continued absence of Roland Shaw, Bacchus Marsh offered the start to big man Tayler Rowe, who was again quite superb in strangling the Deakin offence while his own side put the blow torch to Deakin southpaw Chris Webb.

The Tigers were out of the blocks early, with an infield error, an Earl Byrne safety bunt and a wild pitch gleaning a run in the first before the Blues averted the potential big innings with a silky infield double play.

But while Rowe was proving a difficult proposition, the Marsh exploded with a five spot in the second and followed up with a match-breaking three in the third for an unassailable lead – including a Chris Porter first-pitch two run scoring hit off Deakin reliever Kelii Zablan.

On fire with the bat, Manager Byrne racked up three hits for the day, while Jarrad Norquay (two hits and three RBIs), Porter (two and two), Shannon Hornstra (one and two) and Aaron Wallis provided grand support in offence.

While Zablan dominated for Deakin in relief, his side looked gone – despite a run in the top of six – but still managed to cause some tremors in the Bacchus camp as John Jansen and Daniel Wilkie took turns on the mound after Rowe sidled over to the hot corner with his job ostensibly done after whiffing thirteen over six quality innings.

Not so, however, as the Blues mounted a last-ditch assault to score one, then to load the bases for danger man Zablan – who deliberately fouled off a couple out of the zone before blasting a grand slam over the leftfield wall to draw his side to within three.

With two out, though, it was a bridge too far for a Deakin outfit that troubled all clubs this season and will be looking to finish on a positive note against Werribee next Saturday. Bacchus Marsh will play host to Guild in what shapes – for the Marsh - as a pivotal clash in its 2014 season.

DEAKIN 0 0 0 0 0 1 5  (6)  2 errors
BACCHUS 1 5 0 3 0 0 x  (9)  0 errors
Deakin: C.Gibbons 3, K.Zablan 2 (inc grand slam home run), W.Balzer, M.Rigby, A.Ham
Bacchus: E.Byrne 3, J.Norquay 2, C.Porter 2, S.Hornstra, D.Wilkie, T.Rowe, J.Warwick, J.Jansen, A.Wallis-Taylor
Deakin: K.Zablan 4, C.Gibbons
Bacchus: J.Norquay 3, S.Hornstra 2, C.Porter 2, J.Warwick
Deakin: C.Webb 3.1 inn, 10 H, 1 K, 2 BB, 7 ER
  K.Zablan 3.2 inn, 3 H, 6 Ks, 1 BB, 0 ER
Bacchus: T.Rowe 6 inn, 5 H, 13 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HPB, 0 ER
  J.Jansen 0.1 inn, 1 H, 0 Ks, 2 HPB, 3 ER
  D.Wilkie 0.2 inn, 2 H, 0 K, 1 BB, 0 HPB, 2 ER
LARA had the A Grade bye this week