The gap has closed at the top of the ladder as Werribee beat Williamstown in a huge matchup, with the Giants oh-so-close to overtaking the Wolves but still just slightly behind. It will be a tight race to the finish in the 2019/20 VSBL Division 1 season, with just a few rounds to go before finals begin.
Division 2 Firsts - Round 22
St Kilda Saints 1 v Malvern Braves 6
The Saints scored their lone run towards the end of the game in the eighth inning as Malvern had all the glory early on, getting out to a 4-0 lead after three innings and adding two more in the fifth, all the while shutting out the Saints for most of the contest.
This result gave Malvern a boost as the race for the top four is tighter than ever, and the Braves had dropped a series with Mulgrave coming into this game. "For the future we are basing our success on tighter defense and good pitching," Malvern coach Phil Dale said. "The inclusion of Aces players back to our roster should help this."
The lineup was strong on Sunday, with Justin Burke, Tyler Dale, Lachlan Fuda and Henry Hayman getting the job done. St Kilda's pitchers gave up 11 hits on the day to Malvern, with Tom Snowden filling in with a scoreless appearance in relief of Franco Caramia. Three of Malvern's runs in the first five innings were unearned.
Roland Curiel had an RBI single for St Kilda while Daniel Hogg went 3-for-4 with a double and two singles.
The win to the Braves sees them still in third place with a 13-7 record which they hold with fourth-place Moorabbin. The Saints are ninth at 5-17 but still have time to get a few more wins to their record after a tough losing streak. The series will continue at Malvern this weekend.
Williamstown Wolves 7 v Werribee Giants 8
In a brilliant battle of the top two teams, Werribee pulled off a miraculous four-run effort at the bottom of the ninth to clinch a big victory over ladder-leaders Williamstown on the weekend.
The Wolves got on the board first when they scored two runs in the second but the Giants were ahead by one when the third inning was done and dusted.
The next three innings didn't produce any runs for either side until Williamstown pulled away with three in the seventh. The Wolves furthered their lead by one after their eighth dig which Werribee matched in the bottom.
A one-run inning to finish off the Wolves' game and see them control a handy 7-4 lead was brought undone at the bottom as Werribee knuckled down and worked their magic.
Jayde Thorne took the loss for the Wolves, going 1.2 innings for one hit and five earned runs while Dennis Neal lasted seven innings for two hits, zero earned runs and five base on balls.
Hiroshi Narasaki collected two hits for a season-high three runs and an RBI. Justin Gourlay had three hits for the Wolves that included a double, a run and an RBI as Aaron Green also had three hits with a run and an RBI. Robert Higginson had two hits for two RBIs while Kevin Desmedt also had two hits with one run.
These two sides proved why they're the top two teams in the division as the Giants look to steal top spot when the sides meet in Williamstown this weekend. The Wolves are 17-5 and the Giants are 16-5 with five games left.
Moorabbin Panthers 4 v Doncaster Dragons 1
Doncaster has had a decent run of late, winning three of the last four games, but the Dragons seemed to run out of steam in this game against fourth place Moorabbin.
Zach Kamerman got the win for the Panthers, going eight innings for three hits and one run with five strikeouts. This was a much-needed victory for Moorabbin as the Panthers have dropped two of their last four and fallen from top spot since a 9-0 start this season.
Mitch Barr, Nick Veale and Adam Harris each had two hits, Barr adding a run to his stat line. Kamerman had three hits from four at bats which he came home on one of them while Kieran Lewis had one run from one hit and drove in two RBIs.
The Panthers are tied on a 13-7 record with Malvern but are behind on runs for, something they'll look to get closer to as they travel to 8-13 Doncaster once more this weekend.
Zach Kamerman of Moorabbin Panthers. Photo: Baseball Victoria.
Bonbeach Bluejays 11 v Mulgrave Rebels 10
The Rebels couldn't get the job done as they gave up a 10-5 lead within the final two innings of a game that was very back-and-forth.
Bonbeach got on the board first, bringing three runners in at the top of the second but by the time the third inning was complete, Mulgrave had drawn even.
In the fifth, the Bluejays again gained the lead, collecting two runs but the Rebels continued to come at their opponents. Mulgrave scored three in the bottom of the fifth and one in the sixth before adding three more in the seventh to lead by five runs.
Bonbeach got the margin down to four runs in the eighth before unleashing in the ninth and scoring a go-ahead run, doing the job of shutting down the Rebels at the bottom.
Matthew Bucci got the win for the Bluejays. He went for three innings and gave up five hits and three earned runs with two strikeouts. Tomoki Tokubo got the save as he gave up one hit to five batters across one inning.
Tokubo was also the pick of the batters for Bonbeach, He had five hits from six at bats with three runs and four RBIs. Bucci had two hits with an RBI, as did Jim Crowe who added a run to his stat line. Adam Major hit a double which he scored from while Dylan Eldridge had two runs from two hits with an RBI.
Donnie Poole took the loss for the Rebels after giving up two hits and one run when he faced three batters. Caleb Poole faced five batters and gave up one hit but four runs.
Jayson Arthur tallied three hits including two doubles on his way to one run and four RBIs. Anthony White tallied three hits, all of which he converted while recording an RBI in the process. Zeke Howie had two hits for two runs, Nick Thompson had two hits for a run and an RBI, and Riley O'Shea collected two hits including a double. Michael Morgan also got connected twice for base hits, coming home once as Nick Coy and Caleb Poole each had one hit and run.
It was a memorable win for the Bluejays, as it was just their second win of the season after the first in round 19, capping off a better back-half of the season. Bonbeach hosts the 7-13 Rebels this weekend.
Preston Pirates 6 v Port Melbourne Mariners 5
Port Melbourne led by one run after six innings but slipped in the following innings as Preston increased the score, evening things up in the seventh before going ahead in the ninth and eventually blocking out any chances the Mariners created,
The Mariners got on the board in the second when they scored one but Preston took a one-run lead themselves in the third before Port Melbourne took greater control and drove in three runs at the bottom.
Another two-run inning to the Pirates in the sixth brought the score even and set up what would be a tight finish to the game, even after the Mariners scored their fifth run at the bottom of the sixth.
Ben Donnell recorded the win for the Pirates as he lasted the whole nine innings and gave up nine hits with one earned run and 14 strikeouts.
Jaycob Pascuzzi and Oscar Hargreaves each had one run from one hit while Jean Alvarado had two hits for the game. Taisuke Sakaguchi got two hits including a double that included a hit and two RBIs.
Aaron Petri was credited with the loss for the Mariners, going for three innings and having two hits and zero earned runs against him.
Kevin Ung had two hits that included a run around to third base as he scored a run himself, and brought a fellow runner in. William Parsons had a double that he scored on too and Tyson Cox-Davis had two hits and one run.
The result sees Preston and Port Melbourne both with 12-9 records heading into the next round where they'll do battle again. Both teams are still in finals contention.
Division 2 Reserves - Round 17
Bonbeach Bluejays 4 v Mulgrave Rebels 14
The Rebels had more of an offensive response in this game as the lineup kept chipping away to get a big lead.
Bonbeach started the scoring at the top of the first with two runs, but Mulgrave doubled that score at the bottom.
Bonbeach scored one in the fourth to keep them in the game but Mulgrave had other ideas as they piled on seven runs at the bottom before adding three more to the score in the fifth. The Bluejays managed just one more in the sixth as the game finished up.
Mulgrave still sits seventh on the ladder with a 7-10 record ahead of this weekend's game at Bonbeach as the Bluejays will search for a second win to end their season on the right note at home.
Williamstown Wolves 1 v Werribee Giants 8
The Giants were out to an eight run lead after three innings as they kept the Wolves quiet throughout the game, until Williamstown managed to sneak a run in during the sixth inning.
This was a bit of a shock loss for the Wolves, as they still sit in first place but Moorabbin is hot on their heels. Both teams are 13-4 but Williamstown has scored 145 runs compared to 111 for Moorabbin. The Wolves last loss before this game was back in round 14, and they won't want to drop another one in round 18.
For the Giants, it was just one more crucial win on their quest for finals, but they will need to win their next two games, starting with this weekend at Williamstown while the Wolves won't want to give up top spot.
Moorabbin Panthers 8 v Doncaster Dragons 0
Moorabbin enjoyed a solid shutout victory, an important result for Moorabbin as the Panthers look to stay in hot pursuit of Williamstown.
With 111 runs scored on the season compared to just 55 given up, Moorabbin is in good shape heading towards finals. The Dragons are in the top four too, taking a 10-7 record into the second-to-last regular season game. Moorabbin hosts this weekend.
St Kilda Saints 7 v Malvern Braves 4
This game was tight through the first three innings before the Saints put a lone run on the board in the fourth. St Kilda really opened things up with five runs in the fifth, although Malvern responded with four to keep things interesting.
St Kilda put one more run on in the sixth for the three-run victory. The Saints are 11-6 and have won the past four, a streak they will look to continue at home this weekend against Malvern as the Braves sit in fifth place with a 9-7-1 record.
Preston Pirates 14 v Port Melbourne Mariners 8
The Pirates got a huge victory on the board despite the Mariners' best efforts to stay in the game. Preston wasted no time getting on the board with a massive first inning in which 11 runners came around to score.
Port Melbourne scored just one in the bottom of the first but the Mariners managed to keep the Pirates quiet in the second inning. Four Port Melbourne runners came home in the second as each team scored three times in the third.
Preston improved to 6-10-1 while Port Melbourne is 5-12 ahead of Sunday's game at Preston.
Division 2 Thirds - Round 17
Doncaster Dragons 5 v Moorabbin Panthers 6
Moorabbin is keeping pace with the competition, winning back-to-back games to take a 12-4 record into the last two weeks.
Doncaster is two spots behind Moorabbin in fourth place with a 11-5-1 record. The Dragons host this weekend.
Bonbeach Bluejays 6 v Mulgrave Rebels 12
Mulgrave has won the past six games as the Rebels keep up the momentum after a lacklustre start to the season.
Now the Rebels are 7-8-2 in sixth place while the Bluejays will search for their second victory at home on Sunday.
Port Melbourne Mariners 4 v Preston Pirates 9
The offensive action got started right away as Preston took a 2-1 lead after the first. Port Melbourne quickly tied it up and held a 3-2 lead momentarily heading into the bottom of the third.
Preston tacked on seven more runs across the middle innings while the Mariners got just one more. Preston has a 6-9-1 record and Port Melbourne sits at 3-14 ahead of this weekend's game at the Mariners home ground.
Werribee Giants 1 v Williamstown Wolves 18
Williamstown just didn't let up in this game, continuously scoring against a struggling Werribee side.
Caine Bergin, Shane Dunn and Craig Evans helped Williamstown keep up the momentum as the Wolves scored five runs in each of the first two innings. Werribee got one run in the third but Williamstown added seven in that frame and one more in the fourth to reach quite an impressive run tally.
Williamstown has scored 163 total runs this season while giving up only 64. Now the Wolves have a 12-5 record in fifth place while the numbers are reversed for Werribee with five losses. Werribee hosts the round 18 game.
Malvern Braves 2 v St Kilda Saints 2
This game ended in a draw after Malvern gave up an early lead and let St Kilda back in the game.
Both sides had great pitching, with Malvern scoring one in the top of the first and another in the fourth before St Kilda responded with runs in the fourth and the fifth.
Malvern couldn't manage to recapture the lead as the game finished in a draw. The Braves are still at the top of the ladder with a 13-2-1 record and St Kilda still has a finals chance, sitting in fifth place with a 10-5-1 record.
Division 2 Fourths - Round 17
Doncaster Dragons 5 v Moorabbin Panthers 6
This was a tight contest but ultimately Moorabbin hung on for a huge victory to stay in fourth place with just two games to go.
The Panthers are 8-5-2 and the Dragons are 7-9 in sixth place. Doncaster will look for a third win in four games as the Dragons try to bounce back from this narrow loss at home this weekend.
Malvern Braves 9 v St Kilda Saints 7
Malvern dominated this game from the get-go, and it wasn't until the later stages that St Kilda got back into it.
A four-spot in the first set the tone for Malvern as the Braves had a 6-0 lead going into the fifth. St Kilda took things up a notch, breaking onto the board with two runs in the fifth and five in the sixth. Three more runs for Malvern made the difference as the Braves stay in second place, now with a 14-2 record. St Kilda is in third place with a 9-5-1 record going into round 18.
Geelong Baycats 12 v Preston Pirates 4
The Baycats needed to win this game to have a shot at finals, and they went out and got the job done. Preston scored early but eventually the game turned in favour of Geelong.
Darren Turner made good contact and Callum Dewar hit an inside-the-park home run to boost the Baycats while Daniel Dobbie and Ethan Weakley pitched Geelong to victory.
Geelong is 8-8-1 in fifth place behind Moorabbin while Preston is 5-9 before this weekend's trip to Geelong.
Werribee Giants - FORFEIT v Williamstown Wolves
Williamstown has a 13-1-1 record atop the division with just two games left against Werribee and Malvern.
Mulgrave Rebels v BYE
Mulgrave is 2-14 and will play Geelong in the final game of the season in round 19.