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The 2020/21 VSBL season kicked off over the weekend with plenty of awesome action in Division 1 as teams are happy to be back on the field for the summer. There's two weeks of summer baseball left before the break with teams eager for strong starts to the season.

Division 1 Firsts

Essendon Bombers 0 v Sunshine Eagles 10

The Eagles came oh so close to a Division 1 premiership last season, falling to Blackburn in game three, and they show no signs of slowing down after a comprehensive win over Essendon on Saturday.

Sunshine started off strong and stayed composed throughout the whole game, taking a 4-0 lead into the sixth before scoring enough runs to end the game in seven digs. Bryce Aldridge homered in his first game too while the Eagles' offence was backed up by dominant pitching.

Sunshine heads to Melbourne on Sunday while Essendon hosts Cheltenham.

Melbourne Demons 0 v Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 11

Offence was no issue for the Tigers as they shutout Melbourne with the pitching efforts of Sean Meldrum and Donavon Hendricks.

Hendricks started the game, covering six scoreless innings with just three hits allowed, walking no one and striking out 12. Meldrum entered for an inning of relief and induced a groundout from Finn O'Connell to finish the game.

A seven-run second inning sealed the deal for the Tigers, with hits to Wade McConnon and Josh Hendricks as well as a costly Melbourne error.

"Jordan Elliott was outstanding with two hits and great behind the plate catching," Club Coach Hendricks said. "McConnon and Ash Winton were great on defence."

Bronson Neave singled on a quiet day offensively for Melbourne, as the team had just a handful of hits throughout the day.

Kurtis Smith took the loss for Melbourne, allowing two hits and six runs over one and two-thirds innings with four strikeouts. Jordan Elliott went 2-for-4 at the plate to lead the Tigers in hits.

Upwey Ferntree Gully heads to Fitzroy for round two and Melbourne hosts Sunshine for a big matchup this weekend.

Cheltenham Rustlers 16 v Blackburn Orioles 11

Although the Orioles stayed in it through the end, the Rustlers pulled away late for an exciting victory over the side that's won the premiership two years in a row.

It was an 11-inning thriller, as Blackburn led by three in the ninth inning before Cheltenham's Conor Myles hit a grand slam, keeping the game alive and allowing the Rustlers to score five more in the 11th inning to finish it off.

Mack Turley doubled on the first pitch of his 11th inning at-bat to score two runs, much to Cheltenham's excitement.

Blackburn's Liam Hopkins collected four hits in the loss. He doubled in the second, singled in the fourth, doubled in the fifth, and doubled in the eighth.

The scoring started in the second when Ryan Berg brought in a runner on a sacrifice fly. The score was 2-0 Blackburn going into the bottom of the fourth when the Rustlers tacked on five more runs. Berg, Nick Rossell, and Ben Leslie all moved runners across the plate with RBIs in the inning.

Cheltenham answered with three in the fifth and two in the eighth, but additional runs for Blackburn gave the Orioles a comfortable lead headed into the ninth.

Cheltenham's six runs in the ninth included RBIs from Dylan Trevorah, Andrew Gribben, and Myles.

Jack Enciondo was on the pitcher's mound for Cheltenham. He allowed two hits and two runs over three innings, striking out two and walking one.

Andrew Jones led things off on the pitcher's mound for Blackburn, keeping things scoreless through for with two hits and three strikeouts.

Blackburn totaled 14 hits, including a 4-for-6 day for Hopkins and multiple hits for Leslie, Rossell and Luke Hughes.

Cheltenham tallied 20 hits, including a home run by Ben Fierenzi and multiple hits for Gribben, Myles, Turley, Trevorah, Fierenzi, Michael Leslie and Jack Dunn.

Cheltenham hits the road to take on Essendon while Blackburn plays Berwick City on Sunday.

Geelong Baycats 26 v Fitzroy Lions 1

The Baycats were a force to be reckoned with in the first game of the season, wasting no time getting on the board with six runs in the first inning. Another six runs followed in the second and, while Fitzroy managed to get one back, the damage was already done.

Fitzroy's defence did a good job of keeping Geelong at bay in the third and fourth, giving up just one run in each of those frames before a late burst of offence saw three runs in the fifth, six in the sixth and three more in the seventh to finish things off.

All in all, Geelong had 22 hits on the day with no errors while Fitzroy had three hits and two errors. Lewis Weldon had four hits and five quality at-bats, tying Josh Davies for the most RBIs on the team with five. Tyler Luther-Wilson knocked in three runs while Rudy Jaramillo had four hits and Kelli Zablan had three.

Brock Pawley hurled 13 first pitch strikes for Fitzroy, while Warwick Purchase had 11. Sam Gibbons struck out four with six first pitch strikes in three innings while Lachlan Hockey threw three innings too with three strikeouts.

The next round has Fitzroy at home v Upwey Ferntree Gully while Geelong hosts Waverley on Saturday.

Berwick City Cougars 6 v Malvern Braves 1

The Cougars enjoyed a first round win thanks to timely hitting and strong pitching.

A quiet first inning led to a one-run second for Berwick, followed by a few more quick innings before Malvern evened things up in the bottom of the fourth. The level scores didn’t last long as the Cougars added one in the fifth and four in the sixth.

Berwick kept Malvern from scoring in the final frames as the Braves were held to just two hits total on the day while the Cougars had 10. Both sides made one error.

Malvern pitches combined for eight strikeouts, with Ryan Othen and Simon Pole covering two innings apiece. Jon Kennedy struck out two in his one inning of work, the same as Ryan Dale.

Berwick pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts, and their efforts at the plate did not go unnoticed either. "17-year-old Marcus Graham was the standout offensively, collecting the team’s first base hit and RBI for the season," Shaun Surtees, Berwick City Cougars Club Coach, said.

Graham went on to draw two walks and another base hit in the eighth. New recruit Matthew Homfray collected his first base hit and RBI for the team in his first trip to the plate as well.

After an excellent display of defence with nine innings of error-free baseball and just three hits allowed, the Cougars are looking ahead to a big game at home v Blackburn.

Going up against the reigning champs, pitching is going to be so important. Despite their loss in round one they put up 11 runs on 14 hits," Surtees added. "So its important for us to limit the walks, play great defence and stay away from the crooked numbers. If we can do this, we’ll give ourselves a great chance against the league’s best."

While Berwick and Blackburn face off, Malvern heads to Sandringham for the second round.

Sandringham Royals 8 v Waverley Wildcats 6

The Wildcats did their best to claw back but fell just short in the opening game v Sandringham.

Waverley made a valiant effort to come back from down eight runs in the third inning as Jacob Sheldon-Collins, Reece Longstaff and Mitchell Homfray all picked up RBIs in the rally.

Waverley couldn't keep up with Sandringham early in the game. The Royals scored in the first inning on a walk by Matthew Blackmore and a single from Jack Wills. Brandon Stenhouse and Zac Skinner singled in the second to score more runs, while Blackmore's base hit and a Waverley error allowed more runners to come home during the third.

Waverley finally got on the board with one run in the fifth, followed by three in the seventh with Longstaff's home run. Two more Waverley runs scored in the eighth but that was it for the Wildcats.

Declan Croker earned the win for Sandringham, covering five innings with one run allowed on six hits. He struck out three and walked one. Riley Trad and Grant Irving entered the game out of the bullpen and helped to close it out in relief.

Darcy Longstaff took the loss for Waverley. He surrendered five runs on three hits over two innings, striking out three.

Waverley totaled nine hits in the game, with two hits each from Longstaff, Sheldon-Collins and Mohi Kahui.

Sandringham tallied seven with Stenhouse and Skinner leading the way.

Waverley plays Geelong and Sandringham plays Malvern next.

Division 1 Seconds

Essendon Bombers 5 v Sunshine Eagles 8

The Bombers put in a good effort but Sunshine prevailed, thanks in part to a home run from Lachlan Ruyter. Sunshine has a game at Melbourne on Sunday while Essendon hosts Cheltenham as both teams search for a win.

Cheltenham Rustlers 0 v Blackburn Orioles 5

While Cheltenham's Firsts got the upper hand over Blackburn in the end, the Orioles Reserves had things under control in this matchup. Mitch Whiting had three hits to keep Blackburn in front. The Orioles head to Berwick next while Cheltenham takes on Essendon.

Berwick City Cougars 6 v Malvern Braves 8

The Cougars and the Braves battled hard but ultimately Malvern ended up just in front, a great way to start off the move to Division 1. Berwick will look to settle the score when Blackburn comes to play, while Malvern hits the road to take on Sandringham.

Melbourne Demons 1 v Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 9

The Tigers took control with six runs in the second inning, thanks to RBIs from Kaioh Sato, Ian Geduld, and Michael Oxworth.

"Young U18 Keeley Ronalds-Greatbatch was incredible on the mound, striking out nine in a scoreless start," Donavon Hendricks, Upwey Ferntree Gully Club Coach, said. "The team played great behind him with a 9-1 win."

Ronalds-Greatbatch covered four and a third scoreless innings with just one hit allowed.

Nick Cleland pitched for Melbourne, allowing five hits and six runs with three strikeouts over two innings. Cooper Gerwing and Charlie O’Connell threw in relief.

Geduld, Oxworth, Randy Senn, Will Richardson, Chris Williams and Patrick Gawith had one hit each for Upwey Ferntree Gully, while Daniel Schrodt went 2-for-3 at the plate to lead Melbourne in hits.

Next for Upwey Ferntree Gully is a game at Fitzroy while Melbourne hosts Sunshine.

Sandringham Royals 0 v Waverley Wildcats 9

The Wildcats shut out the Royals with an impressive outing showcasing pitching and hitting depth. The reigning premiers will go for a 2-0 start when they visit Geelong on Saturday, while Sandringham hosts Malvern for a big game.

Geelong Baycats 9 v Fitzroy Lions 4

The Baycats finished in front of the Lions with a good day at the plate and on the mound. Geelong looks to earn a 2-0 start with a matchup v Waverley this weekend while Fitzroy hosts Upwey Ferntree Gully.

Division 1 Thirds

Malvern Braves 8 v Berwick City Cougars 9

Malvern and Berwick City both came close to victory, but in the end it was the Cougars who recorded their first win of the season. They have a shot to go 2-0 with a game at Blackburn this weekend, while Malvern hosts Sandringham.

Sunshine Eagles 3 v Essendon Bombers 8

Essendon got the upper hand on Sunshine with a five-run victory to open the season. The Bombers will look to keep rolling on the road against Cheltenham as Sunshine welcomes Melbourne to the Eagles nest.

Fitzroy Lions 4 v Geelong Baycats 10

The Baycats' bats were busy as they took on the Lions, earning a big first round victory as they look to make another finals run this summer. Fitzroy plays at Upwey Ferntree Gully this weekend and Geelong hits the field at Waverley.

Blackburn Orioles 19 v Cheltenham Rustlers 2

The Orioles were nearly untouchable in this game, cruising to victory over the Rustlers. Next up for Blackburn is a home game v Berwick as Cheltenham aims for a win against Essendon.

Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 11 v Melbourne Demons 0

The father son combination of Simon and Jack Ratcliffe made a difference with several dynamic double plays to keep the Tigers defence in line against the Demons. "It was a great team win where everyone contributed," Club Coach Hendricks said.

Upwey Ferntree Gully hosts Fitzroy and Melbourne plays Sunshine in the next round.

Waverley Wildcats 8 v Sandringham Royals 8

The Royals and Wildcats fought hard but ultimately neither side could pull in front for good in this back and forth battle. Both teams head into round two in search of a win, with Waverley hosting Geelong and Sandringham headed to Malvern.

Division 1 Fourths

Malvern Braves 1 v Berwick City Cougars 15

The runs just kept on coming as the Cougars fired on all cylinders in the opening round. Berwick will look to continue the strong hitting at Blackburn this weekend while Malvern plays Sandringham.

Sunshine Eagles 3 v Essendon Bombers 14

Sunshine's bats picked up in the first and the fifth, but it wasn't quite enough to counter the hard-hitting Essendon side that's won back-to-back premierships. The promising Eagles team looks to build on that potential with a home game v Melbourne, while Essendon pays a visit to Cheltenham.

Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 0 v Melbourne Demons 14

The Demons worked hard to get the shutout victory. Tom Hurley went 2-for-2 for Upwey Ferntree Gully while Noah Toplis and Peter Yakimov contributed on the mound.

Next up for Upwey Ferntree Gully is a home game v Fitzroy while Melbourne plays Sunshine.

Blackburn Orioles 10 v Cheltenham Rustlers 5

Blackburn's Evan Maury hit a double in his first senior game as the Orioles got the best of the Rustlers. Blackburn hosts Berwick and Cheltenham hosts Essendon next.

Fitzroy Lions 14 v Geelong Baycats 10

Fitzroy put eight runs on the board in the first inning, although the Baycats bounced back with some great at-bats. Jake Warren and Kyle Robinson had two base hits each while Duane Davenport singled and tripled.

Juniors Noah Brennan and Maxton Sherry doubled and singled respectively in their senior debuts. Geelong plays Waverley and Fitzroy plays Upwey Ferntree Gully in the next round.

Waverley Wildcats 12 v Sandringham Royals 5

Waverley's bats outlasted Sandringham in a big first round win. Now the Wildcats turn their attention to a home game v Geelong while the Royals pay a visit to Malvern.

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