Another round of intense midweek matchups gave teams the chance to improve their records as finals get closer for VSBL Division 1. Sunshine and Geelong continue to prove their dominance on top of the ladder while there was some movement in the top four courtesy of Blackburn's win over Waverley, with six rounds to go before it's finals time.
Division 1 Firsts
Sunshine Eagles 1 v Essendon Bombers 1
These teams scored either side of the game with the Eagles kicking off proceedings at the top of the first while Essendon scored one at the bottom of the seventh and final inning.
Gareth Formisano pitched the whole seven innings for the Bombers, as he gave up five hits and one run while striking out three batters.
Ross Bament had two hits from two at bats for Essendon that included a double as Lachlan Condie had one hit which he converted into a run from a Darby Sexton single.
Sunshine's formidable offense was kept quieter in this game, with the Eagles collecting five hits in the game. Jordan Young, Jeremy Young, Allan de San Miguel, Jason Tutt and Bryce Aldridge all singled.
Despite the draw, the Eagles are preparing to finish off the season on a high note and head into finals in strong fashion. "The boys are looking forward to playing finals, its great at the moment we have a couple of games break on the next team which means we can start to share the pitching around between our four pitchers so that everyone is ready to go come finals time," Sunshine Head Coach Stuart Clayton said. "To be successful we will need everyone up and about because if we play Geelong they have great pitching and a solid hitting lineup, so we need to be at our best to beat them. We always have tight games against them."
The draw puts leaves Sunshine clear on top with a 16-4-1 record but Geelong isn't too far behind at 14-7. The Eagles play Berwick next while Essendon takes on Blackburn in a late-season push for the top four.
Sandringham Royals 1 v Fitzroy Lions 5
Sandringham opened the scoring at the top of the first but the Royals were shut down by Fitzroy for the remainder of the game.
The Lions scored three at the bottom of the first to hold some leverage but single run accounts in the second and fourth helped along the way to record a win.
Declan Croker had two hits for Sandringham as the Royals have dropped four of their last five. Croker and Sam Street shared pitching duties, with Croker covering four and Street handling two innings.
Brock Pawley was on point for Fitzroy, throwing 16 first-pitch strikes in his seven innings of work. Tim Lane, Paul Rutgers, Branden Stenhouse, Jack Wills and Zac Skinner had singles for Sandringham. Out of Fitzroy's eight hits, two doubles came off the bat of Tom Dicker while Pawley, Danny King, Tom Wilson and Riley Hill had base hits. Ethan Epifanio and Tyler Trevaskis hit for extra bases.
The Lions are 8-13 for the season while the Royals have slipped to 9-13 for the season as the two sides are 10th and ninth respectively. Next time these sides take to the diamond, the Lions will travel to Cheltenham while the Royals face Melbourne.
Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 4 v Cheltenham Rustlers 17
A few massive innings from the Rustlers allowed them to overpower their opponents as they comfortably won by 13 runs.
While the Tigers were the first team to score, managing one in the second, their lead was short-lived as the Rustlers scored seven at the bottom. Cheltenham's third inning followed with another five runs, adding one in the fifth as well.
The sixth inning saw lots of offensive action from both teams, the Tigers claiming three but it was Cheltenham again at the bottom who scored four to end the game.
Sean Meldrum picked up the loss for the Tigers, going 1.2 innings for eight hits and seven runs while Harvey Chinn went 3.1 innings for nine hits and six runs.
Offensively for Upwey Ferntree Gully, Jordan Elliot and Donovan Hendricks each had two hits, a single and a double while Michael Oxworth also picked up and RBI double which he converted into a run. Elliot, Nicholas Rice and Riley Light were their other runscorers.
Cheltenham had a massive 21 hits in the game, with Lars Liguori going 4-for-5 including two home runs, a double and a single. Conor Myles went 3-for-3 with a double and two singles and a perfect on base percentage. Mac Turley had two doubles while Michael Leslie and Andrew Gribbin also had two hits. Many others in the lineup got on base as well, with Dylan Trevorah, Jack Enciondo, Sam Michael, Ben Fierenzi, Michael Rizzi, Andrew Campbell and Blake Holding all recording hits on the night as well.
Liguori threw five innings, giving up five hits, one walk and one earned run with five strikeouts. Cheltenham coach Bryan Kloppe says Liguori makes a big difference to the team. "The pitching of Lars Liguori and Jack Enciondo will be the keys for our success this season," Kloppe said. "We have our sights set on making finals and winning our first premiership in Division 1 summer baseball since our club's amalgamation with Prahran in 1972."
Cheltenham will keep working towards that goal with a series v Fitzroy, while Upwey Ferntree Gully plays Newport. The Rustlers are just shy of the top four with a 12-9-1 record while Upwey has slipped slightly to 8-9-2.
Melbourne Demons 1 v Berwick City Cougars 6
Melbourne held a 1-0 lead after one and a half innings but from there it was all Berwick, who got the runs while also preventing the Demons from getting any more runners home.
The Cougars scored four in the second and two in the sixth and final inning as they claimed their 10th win of the season, overtaking Essendon to now sit sixth.
Berwick's impressive pitching staff gave up just six hits on the day, including a Jarryd Rogers home run and two singles to Matthew Kent. Mitch Ellis, Harvey Mitchelhill and Bronson Neave also singled for Melbourne although they weren't brought around to score.
While this game was much quieter than Sunday's massive 16-3 Berwick victory, the Cougars will be confident going into the next matchup as they've won the past four.
Melbourne hosts Sandringham hoping to win in front of home fans next weekend while the Cougars will host Sunshine, keen to keep the win streak alive.
Blackburn Orioles 6 v Waverley Wildcats 1
Waverley led by a run after a runner crossed the plate in the second inning but Blackburn took control from then on.
Scoring three in the third, the Orioles were out to a three run lead after their fourth dig came to an end until finally scoring two more runs in the sixth and final inning.
The Wildcats were beaten defensively throughout the rest of the night as the Orioles ensured they and Waverley switched positions on the ladder, although each still remain in the top four.
Andrew Jones was on the mound for Blackburn, pitching six innings and giving up four hits, one run and two strikeouts as he took the win.
With the bats for the Orioles, Jacob Evans and Nick Rossell had two hits each including home runs, with Evans bringing in three runs. Liam Hopkins had a double which he came home on while Ben Leslie scored twice.
Andrew Russell took the loss for Waverley, going four innings and giving up six hits, four runs and five base on balls.
Jordan Ley made it to second on his one hit of the game. Russell was the lone scorer of the Wildcats as Damon Hill hit and single to get him safe at home.
Blackburn will host Essendon in the next round while Waverley hosts Geelong in huge series that could determine the finals picture.
Newport Rams 2 v Geelong Baycats 8
Newport continues to put up a fight but it was no match for the might of Geelong as the Baycats showed why they're in the top two of the competition.
The game was scoreless through the opening two innings before Geelong took a 4-0 lead in the third, thanks in large part to a three-run homer from Troy Snarey, his first of the season. The Baycats' lead just kept growing, with two more in the fourth and two additional runs in the later innings.
Newport had David Asp on the mound who took the loss across three innings as he gave up nine hits and four runs. Tyler Comben also pitched three innings, allowing five hits, four runs and three base on balls.
Keenan Spence had two RBIs for the Rams while it was David Land and Jarod Berman who were the runscorers.
Next time around, the Rams will travel to Upwey Ferntree Gully while Geelong heads to Waverley.