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Sunshine is still on top of the ladder as Geelong stays in second place in VSBL Division 1, with the 2019/20 season moving swiftly towards finals. Blackburn and Cheltenham both secured recent wins to keep them in the top two in the reserves as they head into the last round of the season, while Blackburn and Geelong are very close at the top of the ladder in the thirds. Melbourne sits comfortably atop the fourths while the rest of the top four positions up for grabs.

Division 1 Firsts - Round 24

Berwick City Cougars 2 v Sunshine Eagles 6

After a big Berwick win in the previous round, when the Cougars upset Sunshine 5-4, the Eagles got their revenge. 

Sunshine led 2-1 after the first, and the quick and quiet game carried on, with the score remaining the same until the bottom of the fourth when the Eagles scored an additional four runs. 

The Eagles were efficient defensively, keeping Berwick off the base paths for the most part although the Cougars did score one more in the ninth. 

Matthew West took the loss for the Cougars from 2.1 innings allowing two hits, two runs and five walks. Craig Barnett pitched three innings for one hit, zero runs and four strikeouts. 

On the batting side of things for the Cougars, they tallied seven hits for the day, Mark Surtees collecting two. Aiden Willis and Cain Bumpstead each scored from their single hits. 

For the home side, Scott Barr was credited with the win, going five innings for four hits, zero earned runs and two strikeouts. Griffin Weir and Jeremy Irons each chimed in for two innings each .

The return of Allan de San Miguel proved beneficial to Sunshine as he shot the ball over the fence for a three-run home run in the sixth, one of two runs he scored for the day. Nikau Pouaka-Greco also had two runs from one hit and two base on balls while Bryce Aldridge had two RBIs from his single.

Sunshine Coach Stuart Clayton says it was a good win and what he was looking for after the previous loss. "The boys responded just the way I wanted, we were aggressive on the bases and challenged the game," Clayton said. "We made some great defensive plays too."

The Eagles have kept themselves in first place with a 17-5-1 record ahead of a home game against Fitzroy while 11-11-1 Berwick heads to Cheltenham in search of a win. 

Griffin Weir pitched well for Sunshine in the Eagles' big win. Photo: Baseball Victoria

Cheltenham Rustlers 9 v Fitzroy Lions 4

Fitzroy scored first at the bottom frame but it was all Cheltenham from then on out as the Rustlers started getting runs on the board in the second, scoring four within that time.

The Lions brought the margin back by one run in their second dig but a further three runs through the third and fourth innings for the Rustlers allowed their lead to grow. Each team scored two more in the remaining innings.

Jack Enciondo picked up the win for Cheltenham, pitching five innings, giving up two hits and one earned run with five strikeouts. He was supported by Lars Ligouri who pitched four innings for four hits, two runs and six strikeouts for the save.

Mac Turley had four hits from five at bats for Cheltenham with two RBIs while Conor Myles had three hits including a home run and a double as he scored twice and had four RBIs. Ben Fierenzi and Michael Leslie each had two hit, one run games.

Brock Pawley recorded the loss for the Lions as he went through six innings, giving up eight hits, three earned runs and three strikeouts. Riley Hill pitched the remaining three innings for four hits, two runs and four walks.

Five of Fitzroy's six hits were doubles as Tom Wilson brought himself halfway around twice, coming round to home on one occasion and another runner in the process as well. Danny King was also a two-hit player as he scored twice while Tom Dicker scored two RBIs from his double shot. 

Cheltenham hasn't lost a game for eight weeks now as the Rustlers have made a miraculous climb up the ladder to sit fourth with a 14-9-1 record. They take on Berwick at home this weekend while Fitzroy plays the ladder leaders at Sunshine.

Melbourne Demons 3 v Sandringham Royals 9

Four runs at the bottom of the first to the Royals set the tone for the home side that was in need of a win as they went on to record a victory over Melbourne.

The two sides traded single-run innings throughout the middle innings as each team kept battling away offensively. From the seventh onward, the Royals scored three more runs as their eighth came to an end. Melbourne was able to secure just one more run jas the Demons dropped their 15th game of the season. 

Paul Rutgers had four RBIs from three hits for the day while Branden Stenhouse also collected three hits for the Royals. 

Cody Anderson pitched seven innings in front of home support and ended the day with six strikeouts, his ability to get the first pitch right being effective with 20 first-pitch strikes. 

Melbourne changed their pitchers around a bit as Kurtis Smith pitched 2.2 innings with help from Liam Devine and Mitchell Ellis.

Jarryd Rogers picked up the most hits for Melbourne with two, recording two RBIs along the way. 

A new series awaits these two sides as the season starts to wrap up. Melbourne is home v Blackburn while Sandringham welcomes Newport at home. 

Blackburn Orioles 5 v Essendon Bombers 3

This game had it all as the Bombers tied things up in the bottom of the ninth to take the battle to extra innings - 12 to be exact.

Essendon held a two-run lead after the third, but Blackburn came back in the fifth to score three. From there it was a tight tussle with the defense needing to be on their game, however the Orioles let one slip in the ninth that sent the game beyond the normal amount of innings. 

The Orioles got two runners home at the top of the 12th and managed to shut down the Bombers bats at the bottom to record a win to keep within the top four, while for Essendon, this result squashes finals chances. 

Andrew Jones pitched six innings for the Orioles, giving up five hits and two runs with five strikeouts. Blake Hodgson got the win though, going through six innings with four hits, zero earned runs and five strikeouts.

Tallying nine hits for the day, Jacob Evans and Cooper Goodman had two each. Nick Rossell led the way with two RBIs as he came home from his one hit, as did Ben Leslie, David Dicker and Luke Hughes with Charlie Collins the other Orioles player to score.

Gareth Formisano pitched eight innings for the Bombers. He gave up four hits and two earned runs along with five strikeouts. Russell Spear picked up the loss though as he pitched 0.2 innings, giving up four hits and two runs among five batters.

Cody Rodwell and Scott McIntyre each had .500 batting averages for the game, two from four and three from six respectively. McIntryre also led the way with two RBIs as he got to second on one of his hits. Michael Formisano had a double that he got home on while Darby Sexton had one run from one hit too. 

With a 10-13-1 record, the Bombers are now out of contention for the postseason unfortunately but they'll be looking to continue a fine season at home against Geelong this weekend. 14-8-1 Blackburn plays Melbourne next as the Orioles look to hold on to their attractive third-place position, with the chance to catch up to second-place Geelong in the final three games. 

Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 8 v Newport Rams 5

The 12th-placed Newport gave the sixth-placed Upwey Ferntree Gully an almighty scare in this contest, with the Rams up 5-0 after three innings, shutting out the Tigers for the first five innings of the game.

While the Tigers scored three in the sixth, they were still behind but sensing that they needed this win to keep their season alive, they fought hard and found a way to record five more runs to their score in the seventh. 

The score would stay 8-5 in neither team scored again, with the Tigers improving to a 10-9-2 record. 

Jarrod Turner pitched five innings for the Tigers and gave up six hits, five runs and four strikeouts but it was Donovan Hendricks got the win with two hits, zero runs and two strikeouts across four innings. 

Joshua Hendricks had three of the Tigers' 14 hits for the game, two of his allowing him to get to second base and getting to home once. Hendricks and Justin Swanton had two hits each, with two and one RBI respectively. Harvey Chinn also had two hits as he made his way home for a run, but also drove in three. Peter Schroders and Jordan Elliot each had one hit, two runs and an RBI. 

Jarod Berman got the loss for the Rams going for six hits, three runs and three strikeouts from three innings. David Asp pitched five innings for five hits, zero runs and one strikeout.

Of the eight Newport hits on the day, Keenan Spence and Connor Schibeci had two hits each, Spence also adding two RBIs as he hit a double. Berman had one hit for two runs as Scott Hillier had scored once on a hit with an RBI. After coming awfully close to their fifth win of the year, the Rams will be confident heading into a series against Sandringham while Upwey Ferntree Gully plays Waverley at home. 

Waverley Wildcats 6 v Geelong Baycats 3

The Wildcats scored a run in the first and another in the fifth as they prevented Geelong from scoring until the seventh inning.

In that frame, the Baycats took the lead after scoring three runs, however it was quickly nulled the next dig when the Wildcats scored four, which was the score taken through he end of the game.

Andrew Russell picked up the win from the game, giving up eight hits and three runs with three strikeouts across seven innings. Jamie Papanicolau pitched the last two innings to earn the save, giving up just two hits for zero runs with two strikeouts. 

Jordan Ley and Damon Hill had two hits each, Ley collecting two RBIs in the process. Jacob Sheldon-Collins got two runs while Reece Longstaff and Mitchell Homfray each had one run from one hit. 

He had a solid performance on the night, but Sam Gibbons took the loss for Geelong, going for five innings and giving up two hits and one earned run with five strikeouts. 

Ryan Darcy had three hits from four at bats while Lewis Weldon hit a two-run homer to give the Baycats a boost. Josh Davies and Kelli Zablan each had two hits and one run, one of those hits allowing them to make second base.

Waverley coach Adam Bright says teamwork made this victory possible. "The win was a result of every player doing their part both defensively and offensively," Bright said. 

Knowing that anything is possible going forward, Bright will still need his team to be on their A-game as they look to extend their season beyond the regular rounds. "The win over at Geelong was one of our best games of the year especially at such a crucial time, keeping our finals hopes alive," Bright said. "We really need to sweep Upwey the last three game series for a chance to play finals and hope other results go our way during the Cheltenham and Berwick series."

Despite dropping this game, Geelong stays in second place with a 15-8 record, just a game off from Blackburn and Cheltenham. The Baycats travel to Essendon this weekend to try and stay in front while hopes of re-entering the top four. 

Division 1 Reserves - Round 18

Cheltenham Rustlers 6 v Fitzroy Lions 3

The Rustlers got half of their runs early, scoring in the first dig of the game as they eventually grew to a 6-0 lead after their fifth inning. 

At the bottom of the fifth the Lions would score their three runs but couldn't do the same in the sixth inning before the game was over.

The Rustlers have kept up with the top two places, sitting second with a 15-3 record ahead of a home game against Berwick. The Lions are 4-13-1 but can still move up the ladder and improve their standing as they travel to Sunshine this weekend.

Melbourne Demons 5 v Sandringham Royals 3

The Demons scored in every one of their digs in this five-inning game while Sandringham scored on either side, and in the middle, as neither team scored more than one run in any dig. 

Melbourne stays in fifth place, outside the top four with a 10-6-1 record before playing Blackburn this weekend as the Demons look to end the year on a positive note. 

Sandringham hasn't seen a win since round 11 and with a game against Newport to finish the season, the Royals will want that to change.

Blackburn Orioles 9 v Essendon Bombers 1

The Bombers scored their lone run of the game at the bottom of the sixth as Blackburn had alreadyachieved a 9-0 lead, largely due to a build up of runs early and then a three-run effort in the fifth.

Mitch Whiting led things off for Blackburn with a first pitch single and by the second pitch, Thomas Kerr-Chapman doubled to put them up 1-0. Blackburn kept chipping away, capitalising on socring chances, including Luke Cartwright's ground-rule double in the sixth that was oh-so-close to a home run. 

Blackburn pitcher Sam Bucello had a great outing, throwing three innings with six strikeouts while Rowan Johnstone and Pat White also pitched for the Orioles. 

Mitch Whiting led things off for Blackburn with a first pitch single and by the second pitch, Thomas Kerr-Chapman doubled to put them up 1-0. Blackburn kept chipping away, capitalising on socring chances, including Luke Cartwright's ground-rule double in the sixth that was oh-so-close to a home run. 

Blackburn pitcher Sam Bucello had a great outing, throwing three innings with six strikeouts while Rowan Johnstone and Pat White also pitched for the Orioles. 

The Orioles have kept their spot at the top with a 15-2 record, although Cheltenham isn't far behind at 15-3. Blackburn plays Melbourne next while Essendon sits sixth at 8-9-1 ahead of a meeting with Geelong at home.

Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 16 v Newport Rams 1

Upwey Ferntree Gully had a huge win over Newport on the weekend, highlighted by a 10-run dig in the second inning. 

The score was 2-1 to the Tigers after the first but the second inning is where it unraveled for the Rams as they couldn't get another score.

The Tigers scored two more in each of the fifth and sixth innings to close the game and cement their spot in the top four. 

Upwey Ferntree Gully sits third with a 12-3-1 record before facing Waverley in the final regular game of the season. Newport plays Sandringham next and the Royals home ground. 

Waverley Wildcats 3 v Geelong Baycats 2

Waverley kicked things off in the first with a run but by the time the second inning came to a close, Geelong had evened the score. 

The Wildcats went ahead again in the third, scoring one before doubling that lead in their sixth inning.

The Baycats scored one more for themselves at the bottom of the sixth but couldn't get anymore runs as the game ended after eight innings. 

Waverley is locked into the top four, sitting fourth with an 11-4-2 record ahead of a small drive to Upwey Ferntree Gully this weekend. Geelong is 5-9-3 for the season and will be away to Essendon this weekend. 

Berwick City Cougars v Sunshine Eagles - WASHOUT

It was a washout to end Berwick and Sunshine's series but the action won't stop for these teams.

Berwick and Sunshine are out of the finals race but will want to end the season on a high as the 5-11 Eagles host Fitzroy and the 7-8-1 Cougars travel to Cheltenham.

Division 1 Thirds - Round 18

Blackburn Orioles 1 v Essendon Bombers 1

Blackburn and Essendon played a classic top-four game that ended at one-all as the Bombers had a chance to win it at the bottom of the seventh.

The Orioles hit the first run of the game in in the fifth inning as they kept Essendon accountable and scoreless going into the final dig of the game.

The Bombers fought hard, bringing in one run but falling just short to secure another for the win. 

Blackburn sits first at 12-2-3 but it all hangs in the balance against Melbourne this weekend, as 10-3-5 Essendon plays second place Geelong this weekend.

Fitzroy Lions 13 v Cheltenham Rustlers 5

The Rustlers held a lead for most of the afternoon as they first scored two runs at the bottom of the first, with Fitzroy bouncing back for one in the next inning. 

The Rustlers took another two runs in the fourth before the Lions evened the score with three runs in the fifth, but by the end of the inning, Cheltenham were back in the lead, albeit barely, by one run.

Fitzroy came out firing in the sixth inning, tallying a whopping nine runs in that dig, a feat that Cheltenham couldn't recover from.

It was Fitzroy's sixth win of the season and second in a row as the Lions look to end the season with a three-game win streak against Sunshine this weekend. Cheltenham is 7-9-2 for the season and travels to Berwick this weekend.

Sandringham Royals 9 v Melbourne Demons 6

Heading into this contest, both teams were on eight wins but Sandringham overpowered Melbourne this time around.

Coming out of the game, the Royals have improved their record to an even 9-9 ahead of a final home game against Newport while Melbourne is 8-8-1 and visiting Blackburn for the next round. 

Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 15 v Newport Rams 4

The Tigers scored the bulk of their runs through the fifth to sixth innings, collecting 12 in this time including a six-run fifth inning to complement the three runs they started with in the second.

Newport scored single runs in the third, fourth, sixth and seventh but could never match the power the Tigers had.

Upwey Ferntree Gully sits fifth before the final round of the season with a 9-6-1 record, with the Tigers playing Waverley this weekend. Newport has a 2-14 record and takes on Sandringham next. 

Sunshine Eagles 4 v Berwick City Cougars 8

The Cougars got the start they were after with two runs in the first but the Eagles went ahead in the third innings when they scored four.

Berwick matched this in the fourth with four of their own before ending the game with two more single-run innings.

Sunshine is now 2-13-1 for the season and comes up against Fitzroy this week while the Cougars are 6-11 before hosting Cheltenham.

Waverley Wildcats 1 v Geelong Baycats 11

The first runs for this game came in the bottom of the fourth, with Geelong putting together a huge nine-run inning. 

Waverley scored a lone run at the top of the fifth while the Baycats continued scoring in the sixth as the margin went into double-digits. 

Duane Davenport started for Geelong, throwing four scoreless innings with just one hit allowed and a strikeout too. He threw 36 strikes out of 50 pitches. Next up on the mound was Martin Bouma, who covered one inning with two hits, a run and a strikeout. Daniel Anson came on in the sixth for a quick inning, giving Geelong the chance to close out the game once and for all.

In a solid performance overall for Geelong, there was plenty of offense on display. Brody Stokoe had three hits - a double and two singles - while Adam Jirik knocked in two runs on a pair of base hits. William Fitzgerald had an RBI double and Daniel Stott contributed two RBIs as well. Lachlan Stott and Jake Warren had RBI singles and James Lappin brought in two runners on a big single. Matthew Sage got on base with a hit too. 

Geelong sits second at 11-2-3 and plays Essendon this weekend while for the fourth-placed Wildcats, their spot seems secure with a 9-3-5 record, but they will still want to win over Upwey Ferntree Gully this weekend.

Division 1 Fourths - Round 18

Blackburn Orioles 6 v Essendon Bombers 12

Blackburn tied the game at two-all in at the top of the fourth in reply to Essendon's first two innings producing a run each, but the Bombers powered ahead at the bottom to lead by five.

Staying in the game, the Orioles brought four runs across but from there, it was largely all Essendon as the Bombers nullified that earlier Blackburn tally with four of their own at the bottom, then ended the game with one in the sixth.

Essendon is safe and locked into the top four, but could finish second or third still with a 13-5 record currently and a final game at home against Geelong. Blackburn is also chasing a top-two spot as the Orioles hold a 12-5 record ahead of hosting Melbourne this weekend.

Fitzroy Lions 6 v Cheltenham Rustlers 7

A walkoff win in the seventh for Cheltenham gave the Rustlers' their fourth win in a row but they're just behind the crop of teams at the top, unable to make the postseason. 

The Rustlers pounced first with a run in the opening frame before back-to-back three-run innings to Fitzroy in the third and fourth saw the Lions shoot out to a big lead. 

Not backing away from the contest, Cheltenham clawed back with three in the fifth. Needing three runs for the win in the final dig of the game, Cheltenham got the job done before Fitzroy could get all three outs.

The win would've lifted the spirits of the 3-12-3 Lions but they'll hope to beat Sunshine at home this weekend while Cheltenham will travel to Berwick and look to end the season on a five-game win streak, improving on a 10-8 record. 

Sandringham Royals 0 v Melbourne Demons 15

The Demons are showing no signs of slowing down in this competition. Already well established at the top, they shut the Royals out in a dominant display. 

This marks back-to-back shutout losses and the Royals' third loss in a row, bringing the team to a 6-10-1 record in eighth place. 

With a sensational 17-1 record, Melbourne is firmly in first place and will end the regular season against Blackburn while Sandringham hosts Newport.

Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 21 v Newport Rams 3

Upwey Ferntree Gully got the ball rolling right from the outset, tallying five runs in a dominant first dig. 

Newport responded with two runs at the bottom but the Tigers would score two more over the next two innings, to the Rams one.

The decisive inning for the game was the fourth when the Tigers put up 11 runs before three more in the fifth.

The huge win sees the Tigers go up one place on the ladder to ninth with a 5-11-1 record before playing Waverley. Newport heads to Sandringham this weekend. 

Sunshine Eagles 4 v Berwick City Cougars 12

Sunshine got ahead in the second, leading 2-1 after Berwick's one run scored in the first.

At the bottom of the third, the Cougars added three to take a lead but the Eagles would tie the game once more in the next dig.

From there, Berwick added back-to-back innings that produced four runs each, ending the game as Sunshine wasn't able to add any more runs.

Berwick has won three of the past four games but will just miss out on finals, now sitting fifth with a 9-6-2 record before hosting Cheltenham this weekend. Sunshine is 4-12 with a game against Fitzroy to come.

Waverley Wildcats 5 v Geelong Baycats 9

Geelong added at least one run in every inning, leading 9-0 after five. 

Waverley made a late push, putting nine up in the top of the sixth but it wasn't enough to turn the game around. 

Despite the loss, Waverley is still safe in the top four with a 11-6 record before hosting Upwey Ferntree Gully to end the regular season. The Baycats are 9-7-1 and travel to Essendon to end their season on a high note. 

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