Twelve teams entered this weekend but only six remain, with premiership flags up for grabs this weekend across VSBL Division 4 East, North West and South.
Division 4 East
Fitzroy Lions Gold 12 v Waverley Wildcats Black 22
Waverley Black produced more big run-scoring digs compared to Fitzroy Gold and that’s what got them over the line in this contest.
While the Lions were able to put four runs up at the top of the first, Waverley Black responded by scoring seven at the bottom.
Fitzroy Gold tied things up during the second dig but couldn’t get ahead, just scoring three runs, the clash still being close as the Lions kept their opponent to just one at the bottom.
The third inning didn’t see Fitzroy Gold’s score change but Waverley Black capitalised and scored five themselves and that’s when the dominance from the Wildcats started.
Another seven-run dig in the fourth compared to Fitzroy Gold’s one started to give the Wildcats a handy lead, although it was cut down by two after the final fifth inning where the Lions got onto a few pitches to score four. Two final runs for Waverley Black further sealed the deal as the second place Wildcats booked a grand final meeting with the undefeated Demons.
Monash University Farmers 8 v Melbourne Demons 19
A couple of big innings by Melbourne at the front and end of the game decided this result, a six-run first inning helped the Demons turn this into a 7-0 lead after two.
Monash Uni got on the board and back in the game with a string of runs to end the third inning with four, the Demons able to just peg one back.
However, consecutive two-run efforts wasn't going to cut it for the Farmers in the fourth and fifth innings, especially considering Melbourne scored four and seven in the same time.
Paul Blakeney did a solid job pitching against a very tough and determined undefeated side, but the Farmers still fell to the Demons. Now Melbourne is preparing for a home grand final clash with Waverley Black this weekend as the Demons look to preserve a perfect season.
Division 4 North West
North Coburg Rebels Gold 6 v Footscray Bulldogs Red 7
The Rebels battled hard but ultimately fell in extra innings to the Bulldogs side that finished second with a 15-2-1 record.
North Coburg Gold wasted no time jumping on the board, taking a 1-0 lead after the opening frame, with a fantastic shoestring catch by Patrick Kennedy to end the Bulldogs' time in the box. Footscray Red took over with a 2-1 advantage at the end of the second, and it was a back-and-forth battle from there.
The Rebels tied it up in the top of the third and recaptured the lead, going ahead by two in the top of the fourth but the Bulldogs tied it right back up in the bottom frame. A quiet fifth gave way to the sixth when Footscray Red scored two more, but North Coburg Gold held strong and got two runs back in the top of the seventh.
As the tied ballgame went into extras, the Rebels came up empty in the top frame but the Bulldogs managed to piece one run together to win this hard-fought game and book a spot in the grand final.
Footscray Red will chase a second premiership in three years but the Bulldogs will have to beat Footscray White to do it.
Mitchell Majors Yellow 7 v Footscray Bulldogs White 17
The top team in Footscray White put themselves through to a grand final on the back of an impressive 10-run win over Mitchell Majors Yellow.
With the Bulldogs’ first two innings seeing seven and six runs respectively, it was enough of a lead that Mitchell Majors Yellow couldn’t recover.
Despite that, Mitchell Majors Yellow did find some runs as they were the first side to score on the day, seeing three runs to their tally in the first inning.
The third inning started with the visitors getting four runs, although so did the home side at the bottom before two scoreless innings kept the result the same.
Footscray White will play Footscray Red in the grand final at home, with first pitch slated for 1:00pm Sunday.
Division 4 South
St Kilda Saints 2 v Cheltenham Rustlers 23
The Saints were kept quiet by a hard-hitting Cheltenham side that was clicking on all cylinders.
The Rustlers scored early and didn't stop, putting up 14 runs in the first and eight in the second. St Kilda scored two in the third and Cheltenham got one in the fourth as the Rustlers cruised to a grand final berth, now set to play rivals and reigning premiers Berwick City Cougars.
Cheltenham finished on top the ladder with a 12-1-1 record, while Berwick came third at 13-4. These two teams just played each other a few weeks ago in round 18, when Cheltenham won 9-3. The Rustlers also won 10-6 in round 11.
Cheltenham hosts the 1:00pm grand final on Sunday.
Berwick City Cougars 2 v Monash University Farmers 1
In a superb close battle with strong pitching on both sides, the Cougars narrowly got the win.
Berwick scored one in the second and one in the sixth while Monash Uni had a one-run fourth. Both teams made two errors in the field while the Cougars collected four hits and the Farmers had six.
Tim Kibell had two hits for Monash Uni while Mark Hawkins and Paul Quinn had one each for Berwick. James Upfill had two quality at=bats for Monash Uni as well.
Michael Nakai was fantastic on the mound for the Farmers, keeping them firmly in the game with 23 first-pitch strikes, four strikeouts and a 0.57 WHIP across seven innings. The Cougars relied on six innings from Hudson Hyde, who 17 first-pitch strikes with six strikeouts and a 1.17 WHIP. Wayne Porter filled in for an inning with a strikeout and four first-pitch strikes.
The Cougars have a chance to go two in a row on Sunday's grand final against Cheltenham.