Bears sink Brewers: Lions at death

SEMI-FINALS:   Saturday 23 August
***   Scroll down for images from Semi Finals   ***

While the Elimination Semi-Final structure may not appeal to some who might argue that the top two teams have earned some sort of advantage going into the post-season, it certainly adds a degree of immediacy to know that you had better be on your game – because there is no second chance.

Finishing first and second in A GRADE, Guild and Ballarat in other years could have dropped an early final and still been in with a shot. Not so this time around, a realisation that perhaps occurred to the Lions when they carried a one-run deficit into the bottom of the ninth against Lara.

For the Brewers, who effectively held second for all of the regular season, the eighth innings – and the ninth – proved far too late to be chasing down a substantially greater deficit against an opponent who had held momentum for most of the game.

Guild will meet Bellarine in the A Grade Grand Final at Geelong Baseball Centre next Saturday.

While Mounties had the early staggers in defence, the club was strong enough to recover against a youthful Guild Cubs outfit in A RESERVE, emerging a comfortable winner and setting up a Grand Final rendezvous with Guild Lions, who stitched up a valiant East Belmont Saints in seven.

Congratulations to all teams negotiating their way through to a Grand Final.

Check back here on late Tuesday or early Wednesday for our GRAND FINAL PREVIEW.

GUILD 4 defeated LARA 3

The Lions have qualified for their sixth Grand Final on the trot – and a chance to post a fourth successive pennant – with a last gasp win over Lara Wildcats at the stadium this afternoon.

In one of two heart-stopping Semi Finals that showcased the very best of winter baseball, the Wildcats gained a decisive break in the sixth innings and appeared on target to make the Big Dance – even as the Lions clawed back a run in the bottom of the frame and another in the eighth.

It was a pitcher-dominated affair through the early innings, with Cameron Forbes producing a one-run pearler over seven for Lara and Brad Egan holding sway until a Dan Anson blow drew reliever Lee Harty into the pitching fray.

While Harty stemmed the flow with three innings of scoreless work to earn the win, the Wildcats had ample opportunities to put the reigning premier away as they amassed eleven hits to seven – with all of the starting lineup making a contribution.

Guild, however, made the most of its limited opportunities – ultimately taking full toll of a defensive fumble on a Chris Durston shot, with two out, that enabled two runners to scamper home in the bottom of the last for a thrilling win.

Notwithstanding the dominance of the starting pitchers, Chris Mason (two hits), reliever Joel Ricketts (two hits) and Anson were standouts for the Lara offence, while Ryan Stewart and Chris Durston were best of a Guild lineup that found a way to get out of jail against a most worthy opponent on the day.

While it is mothballs for the Wildcats, Guild has qualified for what should be a spirited showdown with Bellarine, which comfortably accounted for Ballarat and will be a serious threat to snag its first A Grade title in many years.

LARA 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0  (3)  2 errors
GUILD 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2  (4)  2 errors
Lara: C.Mason 2, J.Ricketts 2, S.Forbes, S.Baumann, B.Hammer, C.Forbes, R.Wilson, L.Arandt, D.Anson
Guild: R.Stewart 2, C.Durston, T.Snarey, J.Wood, M.Miller, B.Jensz
Lara: D.Anson 2
Guild: C.Durston 2, R.Stewart 2
Lara: C.Forbes 7 inn, 3 H, 7 Ks, 1 BB, 0 HPB, 0 ER
  J.Ricketts 2 inn, 4 H, 0 K, 1 BB, 1 HPB, 2 ER
Guild: B.Egan 6 inn, 8 H, 4 Ks, 2 BB, 1 HPB, 3 ER
  L.Harty 3 inn, 3 H, 3 Ks, 0 BB, 1 HPB, 0 ER

Although the Brewers entered this contest favoured by some pundits, even one of those misguided souls was prompted to observe that the Bears could certainly stay in the contest if expected starter Simon Murry was on his game.

As indeed he was, driving in the Bears’ first run with two out in the first and spinning a brilliant complete game after keeping the potent Ballarat offence off balance - and scoreless until the eighth – with an impressive display backed by solid defence.

Again wonderfully served by starter Rory Meddick – a beacon in his side’s offence with three hits to complement thirteen strikeouts over six innings – the Brewers had their chances but paid dearly for stranding runners and losing a couple on telling plays at the plate as the Bellarine field stayed strong under pressure.

While the Ballarat offence had great contributors in Meddick, Adam Irons (two hits) and Leigh Ashmore (two), it was a sporadic team effort overshadowed by a relentless Bellarine lineup that applied the blow torch to reliever Ross Hipke later in the contest.

Chris Bramwell, Murry, Zac Buhrmann and Chris Barker all posted two hits for the Bears, who out-hit their opponent twelve to nine and who were clearly the better side – on the day - in most facets of the game.

As the Brewers clubs looks forward to its summer campaign while pondering what might have been, a resurgent and seriously competitive Bellarine has earned a shot at Guild Lions in the GBA Grand Final next Saturday. On recent form, the game should be a ripper.

BELLARINE 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 1  (5)  1 error
BALLARAT 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0  (1)  0 errors
Bellarine: C.Bramwell 2, S.Murry 2, Z.Buhrmann 2, C.Barker 2, B.McKentish, L.Hockey, J.Crotty, W.Visser
Ballarat: R.Meddick 3, A.Irons 2, L.Ashmore 2, S.Kerr, R.Evans
Bellarine: S.Murry, J.Crotty, B.McKentish, C.Barker, G.Rowe
Ballarat: R.Meddick
Bellarine: S.Murry 9 inn, 9 H, 5 Ks, 2 BB, 1 HPB, 1 ER
Ballarat: R.Meddick 6 inn, 4 H, 13 Ks, 0 BB, 0 HPB, 1 ER
  R.Hipke 3 inn, 8 H, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 1 HPB, 4 ER
GUILD 3 3 2 1 0 0   (9)   1 error
MOUNTIES 4 0 0 9 5 0  (18)  6 errors
Guild: L.Medew 3, T.Stewart 2, L.Vicary-Lovegrove 2, L.Spence, J.Renouf, L.O'Neill
Mounties: J.Greenwood 3, S.Jones 3, J.Bramwell 2, J.Sculley 2, S.Jeffery, T.Malthouse, M.Ainley, B.Jones, G.Masterson
Guild: L.Medew 4, L.Vicary-Lovegrove, L.Spence, J.Renouf
Mounties: J.Greenwood 3, S.Jones 3, G.Davidson 2, J.Bramwell 2, G.Masterson, B.Jones, S.Jeffery, M.Ainley, T.Malthouse
Guild: L.Spence 1 inn, 3 H, 1 K, 2 BB, 4 ER
  L.Vicary-Lovegrove 5 inn, 12 H, 1 K, 5 BB, 1 HPB, 8 ER
Mounties: S.Jones 4 inn, 7 H, 1 K, 2 BB, 0 HPB, 1 ER
  S.Jeffery 2 inn, 3 H, 3 Ks, 0 BB, 0 HPB, 0 ER
SAINTS: 1 2 0 0 0 0 0   (3)
GUILD: 2 3 4 1 4 0 x  (14)
Saints: T.Leslie 2, C.Rickard, D.Davenport, L.Poulter
Guild: M.Miller 2, B.Jensz 2, B.Spencer 2, N.Cox 2, C.Harty
Guild: M.Miller 4, C.Harty 3, B.Jensz, B.Spencer, N.Cox, J.Peoples
Saints: D.Davenport 4 inn, 8 H, 3 Ks, 3 BB, 5 HPB, 9 ER
  E.Rickard 2 inn, 2 H, 2 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HPB, 1 ER
Guild A.Radevski 5.1 inn, 4 H, 2 Ks, 5 BB, 0 HPB, 3 ER
  M.Miller 1.2 inn, 1 H, 3 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HPB, 0 ER