Another awesome weekend of VSBL action saw plenty of close games for Division 1 teams, as well as a few blowouts with big margins. In the firsts, Sunshine continues to break away from the rest of the pack while in the reserves, Blackburn holds the edge but not without a bit of pressure from Newport. The same can be said for the thirds with the Orioles leading after a big 27-run win while Melbourne continues a hot run in the fourths.
Division 1 Firsts - Round 19
Fitzroy Lions 7 v Berwick City Cougars 9
The Lions traveled to Mulgrave to take on the Cougars but it was the home team that came away with a much-needed win after a 4-3 loss to Fitzroy the round before.
Berwick had big hits from Craig Barnett, who doubled and singled for an RBI, as well as Jordan Bradley who was just a home run away from the cycle with three RBIs on the day. Bradley went 3-for-4 while teammate Cain Bumpstead batted .500 with a pair of singles.
Cain Hillier chimed in with a base hit as John King doubled and Nick O'Shea brought two runners home. Mark Surtees had an RBI double, Lucas Taylor picked up two hits of his own and Aiden Willis singled.
The Cougars gave up 17 hits to Fitzroy but still managed to walk away with the win. Matthew West gave up four earned runs in four innings of work on the mound, while Jordan Bradley allowed three in 3.1 innings. Luckily Berwick's offense was enough to keep the game under control, with Barnett recording his second save of the season.
The Lions had won their previous two matches this season to record six for the year while Berwick has tasted success seven times. With eight rounds to go, anything is still possible for these two teams who will be fighting hard this weekend. Fitzroy is away to Sandringham while Berwick takes on Melbourne.
Waverley Wildcats 3 v Essendon Bombers 0
In this top-four clash, each team was able to get runners on the bases but it was the Wildcats who capitalised on these chances, scoring all three of their runs in the fourth dig while shutting Essendon out in the process over the nine innings.
Mohi Kahui, Reece Longstaff and Adam Blackley were Waverley's run scorers while Jamie Papanicoloau and Damon Hill each drove in a run from their hits. Longstaff enjoyed a good day in the box recording three hits including two doubles on his way to a 1.000 batting percentage.
On the mound for Waverley, Andrew Russell got the win as he started for the Wildcats. He pitched seven innings, giving up five hits, zero runs and three base on balls but also recording six strikeouts. Darcy Longstaff came in in the eighth to pitch 1.2 innings, giving up three hits, zero runs and picking up four strikeouts. Papanicoloau got the save as he was responsible for the final out of the game.
Essendon's lineup seemed to run out of steam, although Ross Bament, Cody Rodwell, Adam Merzel and Jack Giles all singled and Scott McIntyre had two hits. Darby Sexton doubled and Peter Stokes had a single on the day too. Pitcher Michael Formisano took the loss, giving up those three runs to Waverley in his five innings of work. He gave up eight hits, three walks and struck out four during that time. Gareth Formisano and Bedford filled in with quiet relief appearances.
Looking ahead for these two teams, Waverley is set to travel to Blackburn in a top-four clash while Essendon will be pressing further to enter the top four with a win over Sunshine.
Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 5 v Geelong Baycats 3
The Tigers struck well in the first inning with three runners coming home as Geelong managed to peg one back at the bottom.
The Baycats were able to tie it up in the seventh but the Tigers had other plans, scoring two more themselves at the top of the eighth as Geelong couldn't get around the bases for the remaining two innings.
Ryan Darcy was the pick of the bats for the Baycats recording four hits which included a double however Kelli Zablan hit a long shot that cleared the fence for a solo home run. Darcy and Joshua Davies were the other scorers for Geelong. Rudy Jaramillo got two hits and Tyler Luther-Wilson picked up a double.
Jaramillo unfortunately though picked up the loss as well on the mound, going eight innings, letting five runs in from eight hits, however he did have six strikeouts.
For the Tigers, the first inning started with an RBI double from Travis Murphy and then a two-run home run by Josh Hendricks over left field. Nick Rice was another standout player offensively, with two hits to give the Tigers a boost.
Donovan Hendricks threw seven innings before Jarrod Turner came on with two scoreless innings to preserve the win and get his first save of the season.
As coach of Upwey Ferntree Gully, Hendricks says the team is steadily chipping away to get the desired results. focusing on small goals as the season enters the pointy end of the competition.
"Our focus for upcoming weeks is to focus on small goals - winning each at bat, winning each inning and providing nine innings of complete performances from the whole group," Hendricks said. "In last week's game v Geelong we did that and it was great to see, and great for the guys to get the reward. Now we must carry on and repeat that effort.
Second-placed Geelong carry a 12-7 record to Newport for the midweek games while Upwey Ferntree Gully has a chance to enter the top four as the 8-7-1 Tigers are at home to Cheltenham.
Photo: Donovan Hendricks of Upwey Ferntree Baseball Club - Baseball Victoria
Sunshine Eagles 7 v Melbourne Demons 2
Top-placed Sunshine broke away from the other teams with another victory, this time over Melbourne as Jeremy Young picked up the win on the mound.
Young pitched three innings, giving up one hit and zero runs with six strikeouts. Adam Irons was also good on the mound for two innings, giving up two hits, zero earned runs with five strikeouts. Riley Barr and Griffin Weir also recorded outs on the mound.
The game was scoreless through the bottom of the fourth when Melbourne took a 1-0 lead. It didn't last long as Sunshine answered with three in the top of the fifth. The score was 3-2 Sunshine's way for the rest of the game up until the top of the ninth, when the Eagles ran wild and scored four more for a solid victory.
It was a good day offensively for the Eagles with many players doing their part. Jordan Young got on base twice with hits, one of which earned him an RBI but he was also able to round the bases and come home to score two times. Nikau Pouaka-Greco recorded two hits (both doubles) with one translating into a run, while also getting an RBI. Joshua Byrne enjoyed another good week as he went three from four which included a double, also scoring two runs himself. Jeremy Young and Russell Letts were other runscorers for the Eagles.
Kurtis Smith, Adam Pahos and Finn O'Connell took turns on the mound for Melbourne, keeping the Demons in the game all the way through. Tim Sullivan had two singles, while Finn O'Connell, Bronson Neave and Slade Squire all had a base hits. Harvey Mitchelhill was responsible for knocking in one of Melbourne's two runs, recording a pair of singles and a walk on the day.
Melbourne is in the bottom three with a 7-11 record ahead of the next series v Berwick, while Sunshine sits at 14-4 heading into a clash with Essendon.
Photo: Sunshine Eagles - Baseball Victoria
Newport Rams 6 v Blackburn Orioles 15
Newport looked good early on and kept up with the Orioles, enjoying a 6-5 lead going into the bottom of the fourth.
Once the Orioles got a move on in the fourth though, they kept powering on and never looked like slowing down as they scored three in the fourth, two in each of the fifth and sixth and another three in the eighth.
Blackburn had 18 hits throughout the day and 11 base on balls as batters certainly got a hold of the Rams defence and pitching stocks, although Newport put up 15 hits themselves.
David Asp picked up the loss for the Rams, throwing three innings and giving away 11 hits and seven runs with three base on balls.
Hitting-wise for Newport, Scott Hillier starred in his second game of the season, recording four hits including two doubles with a run and an RBI attached to his statistics. Jason Jarvis ended the day with three hits for one run, as did Nathan Smith.Cameron Lyons made it to second on his one hit of the game which brought in a run while he got home once himself.
For Blackburn, every starter recorded a hit with Liam Hopkins, Ben Leslie and Jacob Evans combining at the top of the lineup for nine hits between them. Luke Hughes made his return to the Orioles lineup and made an immediate impact with a three-run home run, Evans another recipient of a good ball that he sent sailing over the fence too which brought in three runs.
Evans had three hits for three runs, Hopkins the same with a double, and Leslie the same but with two RBIs added on. Cooper Goodman got two hits as did Ryan Berg, with the latter credited with three RBIs also. David Dicker had two hits for two runs from three at bats.
Sam Bucello recorded the win for Blackburn in the middle, pitching four innings, letting three batters get hits but he didn't concede any runs.
Blackburn coach Matthew Tayler says "it was a big day for the hitters" as they were bolstered by Luke Hughes' return to the lineup.
"Luke started us off with a big three-run home run and a strong hitting display right through the lineup with all starters recording a safe hit," Tayler said.
Next up for these teams, Blackburn (10-8-1) hosts a fellow top four side in Waverley while Newport hosts Geelong.
Sandringham Royals 1 v Cheltenham Rustlers 5
Sandringham travelled to Cheltenham this weekend and the Royals were shut down by the Rustlers, until the away side managed to sneak in a run in the ninth inning.
Before that though, the Rustlers were gradually pressing the Royals and got their first run in the first, with an extra two in each of the fourth and seventh innings.
Jack Enciondo got the win for the Rustlers, pitching seven innings, giving up just two hits and zero runs while striking out nine batters.
Sam Michael had got two runs from two hits while Lars Ligouri had two hits from four at bats, driving in a run as well. Dylan Trevorah got one run from two hits with Conor Myles with two hits also.
Declan Croker had two hits in three quality at-bats for Sandringham, while Cody Anderson threw 20 first-pitch strikes with five strikeouts in seven innings of work. Brandon Stenhouse put in an inning of work on the mound with two strikeouts.
The win was an important one for the Rustlers as they continue with their sights set on the top four, currently on a three-game win streak, looking to make it four when they take on Upwey Ferntree Gully.
The Royals are on a three-game losing streak right now but still in the hunt as they begin to face Fitzroy.
Division 1 Reserves - Round 15
Fitzroy Lions 6 v Berwick City Cougars 8
The Cougars secured a vital win over Fitzroy in their Saturday afternoon matchup, their third win in four games as they continue to climb the ladder.
The Lions are sitting 10th on the table and have a good shot over overtaking their opponent Sandringham this weekend. Berwick is 7-6-1 before playing Melbourne which will prove a test but one the Cougars can take on strongly.
Essendon Bombers 3 v Waverley Wildcats 2
Waverley let this game slip as Essendon prodded along and eventually overtook the Wildcats on Saturday.
The fourth-placed Wildcats scored two runs in the first but were shut out after that from the Bombers who would gradually score from the third inning, starting with cutting the margin in half, then tying the game in the fourth.
In the fifth inning, the Bombers would score another run that saw them go ahead and the score remained that way until the end.
Essendon has won four of the past five games to sit sixth with an 8-6-1 record before playing Sunshine this week while Waverley will try and make up for the loss as the Wildcats take on Blackburn and look to improve upon a 10-4-1 record.
Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 4 v Geelong Baycats 4
The Tigers seemed to have more control throughout the day, however the end result was a draw for Upwey Ferntree Gully and Geelong.
Geelong got the first run in the first, the Tigers immediately responding in the second before the visiting side got out to a 4-1 lead on the back of a three-run dig in the fourth.
That margin was brought down to one after the Baycats scored two at the bottom, the Tigers just holding onto the slightest of margins until the bottom of the sixth.
The final inning saw Geelong claim a run but the Tigers made sure it was the only run scored when the last out was made, settling for a draw.
Sean Meldrum was strong over six inning on the mound for the Tigers while with the bats, Michael Oxworth, Jason Garland and Kaioh Sato were good on the day. Will Richardson collected two hits and played well at second base.
Despite the draw the Tigers are still second on the ladder at 10-2-1 and will face Cheltenham at home this week while Geelong goes home to Newport with a 4-8-2 record.
Sunshine Eagles 0 v Melbourne Demons 6
Melbourne picked up the shutout win over Sunshine, a handy win for their top-four aspirations.
The Demons scored two apiece in the second and third before putting up one more in the fourth and one in the sixth. Consistent offense and strong pitching did the trick for Melbourne, led by the likes of Nathan Aron, Jacob Bald and Matthew Blackmore.
It was a disappointing day for the Eagles who had won just their third game of the season last weekend however they'll hope to get back on the winner's list against Essendon this weekend.
For the Demons, they'll continue their season with a game at home against Berwick as they sit just outside the top five with a 8-6 record.
Newport Rams 4 v Blackburn Orioles 6
Newport had a good start in this game, picking up three runs at the top of the second before ladder-leading Blackburn scored the next five runs - two in the second and three in the third.
Each team scored one more in their respective fourth digs as the Orioles picked up the win to remain on top of the ladder.
Fielding errors were credited as the reason the Orioles were behind early on, before carefully curating patient at bats which resulted in walks and sacrifice hits. Blackburn hit the front after walks to Cam Vance, Pat White and Mitch Whiting.
It was another close game for the Rams who have just one win for the season, but will carry a great deal of confidence after taking it to the top team of the division.
Newport has a game against Geelong this weekend while Blackburn (13-2) is at home v Waverley.
Sandringham Royals 5 v Cheltenham Rustlers 7
Sandringham got out to a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of the second but Cheltenham quickly found footing, scoring four in that second innings before gaining the lead in the fourth with two more runs.
The Rustlers added one more in the fifth to record the two-run win to keep in third place before travelling to Upwey Ferntree Gully this weekend. The Royals will host Fitzroy.
Melbourne Demons 11 v Sunshine Eagles 7
In a see-sawing game that saw the lead change a few times, Melbourne was able to shut out the Eagles in the middle parts of the game to hold on to win.
Sunshine scored three in the first before a big inning from the Demons in the second provided a one-run lead with four runs. The Eagles got the lead back with another three in the second before Melbourne scored seven runs in the next three innings to somewhat take the game away from the home side.
The Eagles, in their attempt to regain the lead (and win) in the sixth, managed a solitary run as they couldn't capitalise on their one win for the season.
Melbourne though has a 6-7-1 record and will face Berwick this weekend while the 3-11 Eagles will play Essendon.
Essendon Bombers 7 v Waverley Wildcats 7
Both Essendon and Waverley played in an exciting game on the weekend which ended up in a draw.
The Bombers led 7-5 after the top of the fourth on the back of a three-run second inning but it was also Waverley's four-run second inning that did a lot of damage.
The Wildcats scored two in the fourth, with plenty of time left in the game. Unfortunately, neither side could get a runner home as the gametime wound down.
It's Waverley and Essendon's fourth draws of the season but it still sees them sitting third and fourth respectively. The Wildcats will take on Blackburn this weekend while Essendon face Sunshine.
Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 4 v Geelong Baycats 5
Each team batted in two runs in a tight first inning until the Baycats scored another two in the second to the Tigers' one.
The Tigers would even up the score though in the third before the Baycats came back to put themselves in front once more in the fourth, with no other scores coming in the following three innings that were played.
For Geelong, Travis Duxton started on the hill and threw three innings which included three strikeouts, fighting to find his way through the zone with the defence backing him up at every opportunity. Daniel Anson came onto the mound in the fourth and immediately made an impact, throwing plenty of strikes.
Alex Hockey and Anson each had two hits, the former also credited with an RBI. Matthew Sage had two RBIs from a single and Brody Stokoe had an RBI single also.
The win to Geelong sees them remain in second, not far behind Blackburn in first place while Upwey Ferntree Gully remains in the mix. Geelong faces Newport while the Tigers take on Cheltenham this week.
Berwick City Cougars 9 v Fitzroy Lions 6
The Cougars have won their fifth game of the season, coming against Fitzroy, both sides on four wins before this clash.
Fitzroy led 2-0 early before the Cougars put up six in the third. Fitzroy answered with four in the bottom frame to tie things up, but another burst of offense from Berwick in the final inning sealed the deal.
The Cougars will host Melbourne this weekend while the Lions play host to Sandringham.
Newport Rams 3 v Blackburn Orioles 30
Riley Hodgson got his first start of the year on the mound and was pretty good for a player who regularly catches. He threw the whole game and was well supported by his defence.
It was equally a dominant display with the bats, most of the lineup recording a hit as all 30 runs were scored through hits.
The huge win proved how strong Blackburn is in this competition with Waverley having to lookout this weekend when the Orioles host a big game. Newport will be feeling down, but hopefully can pick it up against Geelong.
Sandringham Royals 4 v Cheltenham Rustlers 5
A five-run fourth inning is what set these teams apart in the end, Sandringham holding a one-run lead until that point.
Credit to the Royals though they did respond but just didn't get enough runs onto their score, instead scoring three in the fifth.
The two evenly-matched teams are in a tight tussle around the middle of the table, Cheltenham playing Upwey Ferntree Gully this weekend while Sandringham will take on Fitzroy.
Division 1 Fourths - Round 15
Melbourne Demons 9 v Sunshine Eagles 8
The Eagles tried their hardest to come back from a 9-5 deficit in the last inning but fell short, giving the Demons a one-run victory, their 14th for the season.
The almost-upset was helped by the Eagles scoring three in the fifth and final inning, responding to Melbourne's four runs in the second and five runs between the third and fifth.
Sunshine did actually hold onto a slight lead after the first inning when they scored one but it was the only time through the game that they lead.
The first-placed Demons take on Berwick this weekend while Sunshine will want a win against Essendon.
Essendon Bombers 6 v Waverley Wildcats 9
In a top-four matchup, both teams are now 10-5 for the season after Waverley came away with a win over Essendon.
Waverley now turn their attention to Blackburn while the Bombers will play host to Sunshine.
Upwey Ferntree Tigers 9 v Geelong Baycats 19
A big win for the Baycats over the Tigers as they built slowly to a grand finale in the fourth.
Throughout the first to third innings, Geelong scored four in each of them before going the distance in the fourth with a total of seven.
The Tigers seeing Geelong scoring the maximum amount of runs, responded with seven of their own in the fifth, adding onto their two scored earlier in the game.
Doug Oaten did a great job in his first pitching appearance for the Tigers, keeping his team in the game and having fun on the hill.
The Baycats are 7-6-1 for the season now and play Newport next while the Tigers are 3-10-1 ahead of a fixture at Cheltenham.
Berwick City Cougars 9 v Fitzroy Lions 4
Berwick made easy work of Fitzroy in this contest and stay in fifth position, a few wins out from the top four.
The Cougars led 5-4 after the first before scoring one extra run in all but one of the last five innings. Fitzroy's offence quickly ran out of steam against a strong Berwick side.
The Cougars face Melbourne this weekend while the Lions will host Sandringham.
Newport Rams 8 v Blackburn Orioles 14
The scoreline was looking good for the Rams, a team that hadn't won a game all season.
Newport had a 8-6 lead going into the bottom of the fourth, but that's when the Blackburn bats fired more than they had all game, the Orioles batting in seven to take a big lead which they extended by one in the final dog of the game.
Earlier, Newport scored three in the first and four in the second while Blackburn's first big innings was a five-run effort in the second innings.
Blackburn has a 12-3 record on the season, sitting second before taking on Waverley this weekend. Newport will be feeling good ahead of having to travel to Geelong.
Sandringham Royals 5 v Cheltenham Rustlers 3
Sandringham came back in a big way against Cheltenham, recording four runs at the top of the sixth and final inning.
After scoring the first run of the game in the second, the Royals found themselves on the backfoot soon after as the Rustlers scored three at the bottom.
Sandringham and Chetlenham almost can't be split on the ladder, eighth and seventh respectively but will go their seperate ways this week as the Royals take on Fitzroy and the Rustlers host Upwey Ferntree Gully.