It's full speed ahead for the 2019/20 VSBL season as the race to finals in Division 2 is tighter than ever before. In the firsts, Williamstown and Werribee are the teams to beat, while the Wolves and the Panthers are battling for top spot in the Reserves with one game left. Malvern leads the thirds and Williamstown holds first place in the fourths as every team looks to finish the regular season on a high note.
Division 2 Firsts - Round 24
Malvern Braves 3 v St Kilda Saints 1
Malvern's offense came alive late in this contest as they didn't score their first run until the eighth inning when they tied things up at one-all. St Kilda had scored first in the fourth.
In a tense ninth inning, Malvern managed to score two runners at the top, and then completed the job by shutting St Kilda out for the rest of the game. Malvern coach Phil Dale says this was a great pitcher's duel, thanks in large part to the efforts of Sean Cruz. "Justin Burke had a two RBI hit to get the lead late in the game and Mitch Kennedy closed it on the mound," Dale said. "Now we've got a big final series starting this weekend against Williamstown."
Malvern seems prepared for the Wolves, with a healthy and hardworking lineup ready to go. In this game Mitchell Kennedy and Sean Cruz combined on the mound for Malvern through the nine innings, Cruz going for seven innings for two hits, zero earned runs and nine strikeouts.
Chris Burke had one hit and a walk, coming home for runs both times. Henry Hayman had a run from his hit while Lachlan Fuda had two hits and an RBI. Justin Burke got himself a two-RBI double.
Daniel Hogg took the loss for the Saints as he went through one inning in relief for Franco Caramia. Hogg gave up two hits, two unearned runs and a walk with two strikeouts across seven batters.
Eduardo Escalona had two hits for the day while it was Antonio Torres who scored for St Kilda, Hogg with the RBI single to score Torres.
The Braves are one of two teams on a 15-7 record, however they sit third with a series against fellow top-four side Williamstown to round of the season. St Kilda with a 5-19 record will want to end the season with a few wins from their series against Doncaster set to begin this weekend.
Doncaster Dragons 4 v Moorabbin Panthers 9
The Panthers prevailed over the Dragons in a game they really needed to win as they try and distance themselves from those teams chasing the fourth spot that is currently theirs.
John Britton took the loss on the hill for the Dragons. He went for five hits, five earned runs and two base on balls through facing eight batters in one inning. Ben Palensky pitched seven innings for eight hits, one earned run and two strikeouts.
Britton, Callum Lethborg and Dakota Gibson combined for six of Doncaster's eight hits on the day as Britton tallied two RBIs. Lethborg, Gibson, Brian Chen and Macel D'Avoine all scored for the Dragons.
Zach Kamerman got the win on the mound as he went through five innings to give up six hits, three earned runs with five strikeouts. Stewart Mathieson pitched four innings for the Panthers giving up two hits and zero runs.
Mathieson went two from two with the bat with a solo home run and a double, coming home on that occasion too. Neil Johnston and Travis Finney each had three hits, Finney claiming two runs while Ben Laux and Adam Harris each earned doubles that they scored on, Laux recording three RBIs.
The Panthers have won three in a row now to sit at a 15-7 record while the Dragons are now on a three-game losing streak. Doncaster will begin their final series of the season at home against St Kilda while Moorabbin hosts Preston.
Port Melbourne Mariners 1 v Preston Pirates 2
Eight of the nine innings produced no scores at all as each team added runs in their respective eighth digs.
Port Melbourne got ahead by one run at the top, however at the bottom, Preston bettered that by one to take the lead. The Pirates would keep this advatnage for the remainder of the game.
William Parsons pitched six innings for Port Melbourne, giving up two hits, zero runs and three walks along with four strikeouts. Tyson Cox-Davis recorded the loss for the Mariners as he pitched two innings for three hits and two runs.
Matt Morris and Cox-Davis each had two hits while Jock Allen had the RBI single that got Kevin Ung with the score for the Mariners.
Ben Donnell pitched a complete game for the third time in four weeks and only gave up six hits, one run and one walk in that time. He also had 11 strikeouts, his sixth 10+ strikeout count of the season.
Across just five hits for the game on the Preston side, Luke Williams had two while Cameron Deeble and Mitchell Legge each had one-hit, one-run games.
The two sides are both 13-10 for the season now. The Mariners will host Mulgrave this weekend while the Pirates are away to Moorabbin.
Werribee Giants 12 v Williamstown Wolves 13
All three games in this series between the top two sides have been decided by one run, a testament to their dominance this season. These tight tussles will undoubtedly be a precursor to the exciting postseason that lies ahead.
Williamstown needed a big effort to win this one, bringing in 10 runs at the bottom of the seventh after being down 7-2 at the end of six.
The Wolves got on the board first at the bottom of the first before three-run digs to Werribee in the third and fifth changed things up. Both teams split a run each in the sixth.
The 10-run effort to the Wolves brought them into the lead and suddenly, the Giants were on the backfoot. Slowly looking to get back to a result they wanted, the Giants added one at the top of the eighth before scoring four in the ninth to even the scores up.
Williamstown found a way to secure one run across the plate at the bottom of the ninth for a walkoff win and reclaim top spot on the ladder.
Wesley de Jong got things started on the mound for the Giants, giving up 14 hits and eight earned runs with four strikeouts across 6.1 innings. Josh Lee gave up three hits and one run in 1.1 innings.
Oliver Box had four hits from six at-bats with two doubles and four RBIs while Justin Gil had three hits and three RBIs but scored four of his side's runs. Wade Balzer also scored four times from two hits and two walks while single runs went to Daine Gregory, Andrew Maki, Evan McPherson and Lee.
Jayde Thorne was on the mound for five innings for the Wolves as he gave up six hits and three earned runs with six strikeouts. It was Dennis Neal who picked up the win though, going the other four innings for six hits, five earned runs and seven strikeouts.
Every player in the Williamstown lineup recorded a hit as the team had 19 in total. Jason McDonald had four hits, Aaron Green and Justin Gourlay had three each. Green and Gourlay led the Wolves for runs scored with three each, the latter with three RBIs. Robert Higginson got two runs from one hit with three RBIs while Thorne had two hits that included a double and two RBIs.
Williamstown is 18-6 and up against Malvern in the final series of the season while Werribee sits at 17-6 with a few games against Bonbeach coming up next.
Mulgrave Rebels 13 v Bonbeach Bluejays 0
Mulgrave scored in seven of the eight innings in this game, building up to a big eighth dig and shutting out Bonbeach in the process.
The Rebels accrued nine runs over the first six innings before ending their game with four in the eighth.
Jayson Arthur got the win for Mulgrave, pitching the whole eight innings. He only gave up one hit and zero runs as he accumulated a whopping 18 strikeouts.
Mulgrave had 13 runs for the day to match their 13 runs that saw Nick Thompson and Riley O'Shea have three hits each, including a double. Thompson had two runs and an RBI while O'Shea also brought three runs in, and scored one himself. Donnie Poole had two runs off two hits that were a double and triple while Caleb Poole came around to score once off two hits with two RBIs. Anthony White though had two hits from three at bats and led runs for the Rebels with three.
Adam Major took the loss for Bonbeach after lasting five innings for six hits, five runs and two walks.
The Bluejays were only able to get three batters on base for the entire game with just one hit to Matthew Bucci while Jim Crowe and Adam Shoppe got on via walks.
Bonbeach has lost the past two but will look to get a win over Werribee this weekend, while Mulgrave heads to Port Melbourne.
Division 2 Reserves - Round 18
Malvern Braves 1 v St Kilda Saints 4
Malvern didn't score until the final fifth inning, down by four runs and unable to make a comeback.
St Kilda got the scoring stated in the second, bringing three across the plate and adding one more in the fourth.
The Saints are locked into the top four, currently sitting third with a 12-6 record but could still improve with a win over Doncaster this weekend. Malvern is 9-8-1 before playing Williamstown in this next round.
Werribee Giants 9 v Williamstown Wolves 6
Williamstown let a 5-0 lead slip in the last three innings of the game as Werribee had a flurry of three-run innings at the end of the game.
The Wolves scored five runs within the first two innings before the Giants got ahead by one during their fifth dig after scoring three there and the inning before.
The game became even again at the bottom of the sixth when Williamstown had a runner scoring before the Giants produced a three-run seventh inning. They then stopped the Wolves from entering the contest at the bottom and claiming a walkoff win.
Williamstown could've gone up to first place with a win however the draw from Moorabbin helps too. The Wolves sit second with a 13-5 record as they prepare to face Malvern this weekend. Werribee is 9-7-2 and playing Bonbeach next.
Mulgrave Rebels 28 v Bonbeach Bluejays 1
A few innings that produced huge run totals for Mulgrave allowed them to record a comprehensive win over Bonbeach in this round 18 clash.
The Rebels started their account with nine runs in the first and were up 11-1 after two innings when the Bluejays scored their first at the bottom of two.
The third inning for Mulgrave saw them bring in six runs, adding one more in the fourth before a mammoth 10 runs ended the game.
The big win to Mulgrave sees them improve to a 8-10 record ahead of a final game v Port Melbourne while for the Bluejays host Werribee at home.
Port Melbourne Mariners 14 v Preston Pirates 7
Each team looked set in their ways and were scoring consistently however there were more Port Melbourne runners coming across home plate.
Preston held a one-run lead after the first but the Mariners came back with four runs at the top of the second. It was the same for the next digs from either team; one to the Pirates, four to Port Melbourne.
The next runs came from the Mariners at the top of the fifth where they had their best game tally of six while at the bottom half, Preston was chasing and secured five runs to end the game.
It was the sixth win of the season for the Mariners which draws them to a 6-12 record, and they could move up a place with another win over Mulgrave this weekend. Preston is away at Moorabbin looking to close the season with a win.
Doncaster Dragons 2 v Moorabbin Panthers 2
Moorabbin was trying to get some breathing room atop the ladder but the victory eluded the Panthers as Doncaster fought hard in a pitcher's duel.
The 13-4-1 Panthers are at home to Preston this weekend as they look to end the season on a high going into the finals whereas 10-7-1 Doncaster's takes on fellow top-four side St Kilda.
Division 2 Thirds - Round 18
Preston Pirates 4 v Port Melbourne Mariners 1
Preston scored in the first dig but the scores was tied after the second.
The Pirates grew the lead by three when they entered the batters box in the third inning, the 4-1 scoreline staying that way for the remainder of the game.
The Mariners have now lost 10 in a row as they sit ninth with a 3-15 record with a final game against Mulgrave this weekend while the Pirates, at 7-9-1, will be at home to Moorabbin.
Moorabbin Panthers 7 v Doncaster Dragons 9
The Dragons won a close one over Moorabbin to keep their season alive, bouncing back from a 6-5 loss the week before.
The Dragons sit fourth with a 12-5-1 record but could easily give that spot up if they don't win against St Kilda this weekend. Moorabbin's third place position at 12-5 isn't quite safe either and the Panthers will want to beat Preston this weekend.
Mulgrave Rebels 16 v Bonbeach Bluejays 3
The Rebels scored the bulk of their runs in the final two innings of this game that was tied at three after three innings. Mulgrave scored three in the first and Bonbeach did the same in the second.
Mulgrave scored six in the fourth and bettered that by one run in the fifth to have the margin go beyond single digits.
The Rebels improved their record to 8-8-2 with a home game against Port Melbourne to close their season while Bonbeach will hope to find their second win for the season against Werribee.
St Kilda Saints 8 v Malvern Braves 1
Malvern went down as the Braves struggled to keep up with the Saints after the first inning.
The score was 2-1 the way of the Saints after the first innings but the Braves failed to score any further runs as St Kilda piled on five runs across the third and fourth before adding one more to ice the game in the sixth.
St Kilda needed the win to keep in touch with the top four, one win out from claiming that a third or fourth position which the Saints will hope to achieve against Doncaster this weekend. Malvern is still safe in first place despite their third loss of the season as the 13-2-1 Braves take on fellow top-two contender Williamstown.
Williamstown Wolves 20 v Werribee Giants 13
Following an 18-1 loss the week prior, Werribee was much more competitive this time around.
Even so, in this high-scoring game, Williamstown got the edge over Werribee as a crucial second inning defensive effort from the Wolves prevented the Giants from scoring and needing to catch up further.
After two innings, Williamstown led 9-1 but Werribee was right back in it after the third, scoring five to make it a 10-6 ballgame.
The fifth was another decisive inning for Williamstown, producing six runs as Werribee responded with three. Each team scored four in the final frame as Williamstown sealed the deal, safe in the top four and currently sitting in second place with a 13-5 record before playing Malvern. Werribee is 5-13 and will look to go out on a high note against Bonbeach.
Division 2 Fourths - Round 18
Moorabbin Panthers 9 v Doncaster Dragons 10
The Dragons were able to hang on to win over Moorabbin after a 6-5 loss in round 17.
Moorabbin remains in fourth place with a 8-6-2 record, with the Panthers focusing on beating Preston this weekend while Doncaster heads to St Kilda.
St Kilda Saints 12 v Malvern Braves 10
The Braves responded really well from the two runs St Kilda scored at the top of the first as they scored the next eight runs including six in the second inning.
St Kilda came back into the game in the fourth, scoring five. The Saints went ahead in the fifth when they brought another five runs in as the Braves scored two at the bottom, chasing, but left ruing what could've been.
After this classic top-four contest, the Braves stay in second with a 14-3 record, coming up against Williamstown this weekend while for St Kilda will carry a third place10-5-1 record into a home game v Doncaster this weekend.
Williamstown Wolves 21 v Werribee Giants 4
Another huge effort from the Wolves has cemented their place at the top of this competition, earning win number 14 against a Werribee team that has dropped the last 10 games.
Werribee has a bye this weekend while 14-1-1 Williamstown has a huge game coming up at Malvern.
Preston Pirates 5 v Geelong Baycats 12
Preston just couldn't match Geelong's intensity and scoring abilities in this match as the Baycats scored six from their first dig and three in the third as the score was a 9-2 margin to the home team.
The Pirates added to their score with three runs across the fourth and fifth innings before Geelong had another three-run dig at the bottom of the fifth to close out the game.
The win was important to the Baycats' finals chances as they sit fifth at a 9-8-1 record and will hope to sneak into the top four with a win over Mulgrave this weekend. Preston is 5-11 for the season and will have final game at home against Moorabbin.
Mulgrave Rebels v BYE
2-14 Mulgrave had the bye this past round, with the Rebels set to play Geelong this weekend in an attempt to snap a three-game losing streak.