It's still anyone's game for a few top four spots as Springvale continues to lead VSBL Division 3, followed by Pakenham and Ormond Glenhuntly Gold. Things aren't quite settled in the reserves either, although Springvale is on top with both Ormond Glenhuntly teams in playoff position. There's just two games to go before finals begin, with teams
Division 3 Firsts
North Western Titans 6 v Pakenham Pumas 10
The Pumas shot out of the blocks early in this game with three runs at the bottom of the first but the Titans put themselves back into the contest with two runs at the top of the third.
The next four runs belonged to the Pumas as they grew to a five-run lead before each team scored two in their respective seventh digs. The Titans outscored the Pumas two runs to one in the eighth inning but the away side couldn't get enough runs on the board in the ninth to keep the game going.
Pakenham has switched places with Ormond Glenhuntly Gold, taking second place with a 9-7-1 record that gives the reigning premiers some momentum moving forward. Pakenham plays Springvale next while the 3-13 Titans will have some positive takeaways from this game, hoping to replicate it and go better against Chelsea this weekend.
Ormond Glenhuntly Blue 12 v Chelsea Dolphins 9
This game was a flurry of offence, as Chelsea had a four-run first inning before the Hunters got back three in the top of the second.
Chelsea scored once more in the bottom of the second, but quickly fell behind after Ormond Glenhuntly Blue's third inning produced six runs.
The following three innings were tight from both teams before Ormond Blue added three more in the seventh to hold a 12-5 lead going into the bottom frame.
Back-to-back two-run innings were all the Dolphins could muster as they let the game slip and surrendered their fourth place position to Ormond Blue.
Adam Burton was the pick of the pitchers for Chelsea, going two innings and giving up one hit, one run with two strikeouts.
On the bats for the Dolphins, Kyle Burton and Cameron Hubbard each had two hits including a double as Hubbard converted his two into runs. Adam Burton went four from four, a feat that included three doubles, three runs scored and two RBIs. Scott Kerr had one run from one hit with two RBIs, Matthew Burton had two hits and one run as Trent Wilford had one hit and drove in two runs.
Ormond Glenhuntly Blue's offense was helped by an RBI from Jarrad Barrow, two singles and two RBIs from Lucas Bull and a pair of hits by Andrew Clark as well. Brad Dolan also had two hits while Lachlan Eddington contributed with three hits in his at-bats.
It'll be a race to the finish for these two teams as the season draws nearer to the end, with Ormond Glenhuntly Blue sitting in fourth at 6-9-1 ahead of a game at Ormond Glenhuntly Gold. Chelsea is now 6-11 in fifth place before taking on top side Springvale.
Springvale Lions 3 v Ormond Glenhuntly Gold 2
Despite a few scoring chances, fantastic defensive displays on both sides made this game a quiet one to start. There was no change to scoreboard throughout the first six innings but it was the Lions who broke through first, their one run in the seventh giving them the first sign of life in the game.
However, Springvale's flame was quickly extinguished as Ormond Glenhuntly Gold also got in on the action, going one better and scoring two at the bottom.
The eighth didn't produce anything from either side but at the top of the ninth, the Lions took the lead once more, collecting two runs, and then did the job of shutting out Ormond Glenhuntly Gold in the final dig of the game.
Springvale relied on three pitchers to keep them in the game against Ormond Glenhuntly Gold's Kyung Jeon. The Lions had four hits while the Hunters had five, but two of Springvale's were extra bases that changed the tone of the game.
Rydge Hogan started on the mound for Springvale, throwing three innings with one hit and three walks given up. Lucas Anderson came in for the fourth to relieve him, giving up a single on a full count to the first batter he faced, but he fought back hard to strike out six across the next four innings. There were two hits and two unearned runs when Anderson was on the mound.
Mark Richards ended the game on a high note with a game-winning home run for Springvale. Scott Baillie recorded the final outs for Springvale as the team enjoyed a hard-fought victory in which all three runs scored from homers. Hogan had a single and a home run while Anderson doubled and Chris Davies singled in the final inning.
After a great game, Springvale Head Coach Tim Hanson says the Lions are ready for finals. "We are approaching finals with the full expectation that our competition will be keen to see us fall over. We have had a good season and Ormond Gold are playing great baseball at the right time of the year," Hanson said. "I think should we meet them again, we will trust our hitting game and rely on our pitching rotations to minimise their run scoring ability."
Springvale is counting on the competitors bringing their A-game for the rest of the season. "They are a clever team and play a traditional style of baseball that we have to stay on top off if we are to win again," Hanson said. "The schedule suggests we would only play them again in a grand final if we are both lucky enough to reach it, so we are looking forward to it should that occur."
Springvale keeps a fantastic season intact with a 16-1 record ahead of a game against Chelsea while the Hunters proved they belong in the finals but will still need to reman competitive for the rest of the season, starting with a game against Ormond Blue.
Division 3 Reserves
North Western Titans 8 v Pakenham Pumas 24
The Titans would've been pleased to get the first run of the game at the top of the first but all that quickly waned as the Pumas put everything into their first-inning dig, tallying 18 runs.
The Titans didn't back down though and while they weren't able to recreate the heights of their opponents, still kept hitting away as they scored four and three in the second and third respectively. The Pumas scored a duo of three runs in that time too as the game ended after three innings were complete.
There were strong offensive contributions up and down the lineup, with Jarrad Bell, Matthew Clements and Scott Dale among the difference-makers for Pakenham.
Pakenham is a lot safer in the top four now after this win, sitting fourth with a 7-8-2 record ahead of a meeting with Springvale next week. For the Titans, they'll face Chelsea in a bottom-two fixture, looking to get their first win of the season.
Ormond Glenhuntly Blue 16 v Chelsea Dolphins 4
Ormond Glenhuntly Blue was leading 6-1 after back-to-back three-run digs to start the game.
It was the third inning that Ormond Blue unleashed, bringing in 10 runs in a dominant offensive display. Ben Bull, Dylan Cohen and Michael Sullivan gave Ormond Glenhuntly Blue a boost with strong contributions.
The Dolphins scored three more over the course of the last two innings but couldn't replicate their opponents' burst of scoring runs.
Ormond Glenhuntly Blue is safely in the finals with a 10-6-1 record but the Hunters still want to keep up the form against Ormond Glenhuntly Gold. Chelsea is in fifth place with a 6-11 record ahead of a game at North Western Titans this weekend.
Springvale Lions 11 v Ormond Glenhuntly Gold 2
The Lions have their place at the top of the ladder after downing Ormond Glenhuntly Gold in a battle that was between the top two teams.
Ormond Glenhuntly Gold didn't score until the very last dig at the bottom of the sixth as Springvale gradually worked out to an 11-0 lead that started in the third inning when the Lions scored three. The Lions finished their digs with three in the fifth and four in the sixth.
14-3 Springvale takes on Chelsea next whereas Ormond Glenhuntly Gold carries a 12-5 record into a game v Ormond Glenhuntly Blue, hoping to make up this gap they lost between them and top spot in round 18.