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The 2020/21 VSBL Division 1 season is off to a flying start as teams aim to finish 2020 off on a strong note. There's just one round left before the break and some big matchups to come this weekend.

Division 1 Firsts - Midweeks (Tuesday, 15 December 2020)

Malvern Braves 2 v Sunshine Eagles 2

Round 3 saw the Braves and Eagles face off in a low-scoring affair as neither side could pull away in the end. Adam Irons and the Eagles held off the 2019/20 VSBL Division 2 Premiers at the Eagles nest as Malvern avoided a third straight loss.

Malvern's efforts were led by two singles and an RBI from Jack Hangar and an RBI base hit by Ryan Othen. Tyler Dale pitched three scoreless innings and gave up just one hit and a walk with two strikeouts. Mitchell Kennedy also pitched three innings, giving up two hits and a run with a pair of strikeouts.

Sunshine is in second place with two wins and a draw while Malvern has two losses and a draw. Sunshine hosts Fitzroy next while Malvern goes to Geelong.

Blackburn Orioles 4 v Waverley Wildcats 3

Waverley held a 2-0 lead from the first inning, but eventually Blackburn fought back, putting up a four-spot in the fourth. The Wildcats scored one more in the bottom of the fifth but it wasn't quite enough as the Orioles held on for the win.

Both sides made one error each while Blackburn had six hits and Waverley had four. Liam Hopkins had two of the Orioles hits and Luke Hughes took three walks. Steven Bookluck had two RBIs for Blackburn too with a hard-hit double.

Waverley's Jacob Sheldon-Collins had three quality at-bats and two hits. Liam Evans pitched three scoreless innings for Waverley with 10 first-pitch strikes and four strikeouts. Blackburn scored three runs during Finn Weichard's turn on the mound while Jamie Papanicolaou gave up two hits and a run during his one and two-thirds innings on the mound.

Rowan Johnstone covered five innings for Blackburn, giving up four hits, five walks and three runs - two earned - with nine first-pitch strikes and four strikeouts. Blake Hodgson handled a scoreless inning although Waverley got two hits.

Waverley is 1-2 ahead of a home game v Upwey Ferntree Gully, while Blackburn takes a 2-1 record into round four v Essendon.

Melbourne Demons 1 v Essendon Bombers 2

The Bombers narrowly got the edge over Melbourne in this midweek matchup. The Demons struck first with a run in the third before Essendon answered with two in the bottom of the fourth.

Two more scoreless innings followed as the Bombers came away with their second win of the season. Sam Street and Russell Spear handled pitching duties, with Street throwing four innings, during which he gave up no hits but walked five. One unearned run scored and Street struck out four. Spear gave up one hit and one walk in two scoreless innings with two strikeouts.

Essendon had five hits on the night, including a single and a double for Jared Cruz and Shoma Ikehata. Cody Rodwell had an RBI double too.

The Bombers play Blackburn on Sunday while Melbourne looks for a win at Cheltenham.

Cheltenham Rustlers 4 v Sandringham Royals 3

The Rustlers prevailed in a tight one-run result over Sandringham. Cheltenham forced the Royals to play catch up all night as the Rustlers scored one to open the game. One more in the third and two in the fourth gave the Rustlers enough of a lead, although Sandringham battled back with three in the sixth.

Cheltenham shut down the threat with a scoreless final frame to secure win number two on the season. The Rustlers had seven hits in the game, including a single and double from Sam Michael and an extra-base hit from Michael Leslie. Dante Caruso, Jack Dunn, Mack Turley and Dylan Trevorah singled as well.

Cheltenham's pitchers proved hard to hit as Sandringham had just four hits on the day, all singles going to Declan Croker, Declan Ferguson, Grant Irving and Harrison Wills. The Rustlers had Conor Myles on the mound for five innings, as he gave up one hit, six walks and two runs - one unearned - with four strikeouts. Andrew Campbell contributed two innings with three hits, two walks, one earned run and two strikeouts.

Sandringham's Brandon Stenhouse pitched three scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and five strikeouts, while Riley Trad handled four innings of work. Four runs - two unearned - scored against him while he gave up six hits and two walks with four strikeouts.

Both teams are now 2-1 as Sandringham plays Berwick next and Cheltenham hosts Melbourne for the fourth round.

Berwick City Cougars 1 v Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 2

The Tigers are enjoying a 3-0 start to the season after securing the win on Tuesday night.

A quiet first inning gave way to the second when Upwey Ferntree Gully scored one. Berwick quickly tied it up at the top of the third, but the Tigers broke the tie in the bottom of the fourth with their second and final run. Both defences held steady for a scoreless fifth and sixth as the Tigers handed the Cougars their second loss of the season.

Winning pitcher Donavon Hendricks allowed just six hits across the game with no walks and four strikeouts. Berwick batters who got on base include Craig Barnett, Cain Bumpstead, Andrew Gibbens, John King, Lucas Taylor and Aidan Willis, all with singles.

Barnett pitched for Berwick in the pitcher's duel, surrendering two runs on seven hits over six innings, striking out two. Staci Rogers had two hits, a single and a triple, in three at bats for the Tigers, while Wade McConnon doubled and Hendricks, Harvey Chinn, Riley Light and Ashley Winton singled.

The Tigers play Waverley on Saturday while Berwick hosts Sandringham on Sunday.

Division 1 Firsts - Sunday Games

Waverley Wildcats 6 v Geelong Baycats 2

The Wildcats got the better of the Baycats with a convincing performance on Saturday.

Geelong was the first to score with two coming around in the first, although the offence was quiet for the most part after that. The game seemed to be in Geelong's favour through four, until Waverley tied things up with two in the fifth before taking the lead on another run in the sixth.

The Wildcats weren't done yet, adding three more runs in the seventh to put some more space between them and Geelong. Waverley's first win on the board was made possible by strong pitching from Darcy Longstaff, Jamie Papanicolaou and Liam Evans.

Geelong had young gun Lachlan Hockey on the mound for four scoreless innings with just three hits allowed. The Baycats scored their early runs on hits from Ryan Darcy and James Wood. Rudy Jaramillo knocked a run in on a fielder's choice and Tyler Luther-Wilson doubled to bring home another runner.

Luther-Wilson and Samuel Thomas led Geelong with three quality at bats, while Jordan Ley had four for Waverley with three hits and a walk. All in all, Waverley had 13 hits total compared to six for Geelong. Longstaff and Evans both struck out three Geelong batters during their time on the mound as Longstaff hurled 10 first-pitch strikes.

Malvern Braves 1 v Sandringham Royals 4

The Royals took the lead in the fifth inning to even their record at 1-1.

It was a close contest, especially at the start, with two scoreless innings before each side put up one in the third. Three Royals runs in the fifth followed by scoreless innings to close out the game made it a Sandringham victory.

The defence on both sides was relatively strong with only five runs scoring total despite nine hits to Malvern and seven to Sandringham. Jack Wills had four quality at-bats and an RBI, while teammates Matthew Blackmore and Will Tucker also had four QABs.

Mitch Kennedy knocked in Malvern's only run of the day with a double, while Sandringham had RBIs from Wills and Sam Skinner. Grant Irving also had a pair of singles for Sandringham.

Chris Burke and Tyler Dale had two hits each for Malvern, with doubles to Dale and Jack Hangar.

Declan Croker pitched the whole game for Sandringham, giving up nine hits and one unearned run with four walks and six strikeouts. Malvern's pitching duties were shared amongst Dale, Jon Kennedy, Henry Jones, Mitch Kennedy and Ryan Othen, who struck out a combined seven Sandringham batters.

Cheltenham Rustlers 3 v Essendon Bombers 4

The Bombers barely edged the Rustlers in a close showdown, with the game running scoreless through the first five innings before Essendon broke through with two in the bottom of the sixth.

Cheltenham didn't go down without a fight, scoring one in the seventh, although Essendon added another in the eighth. The Rustlers tied the game up in the ninth but the Bombers prevailed in the bottom half, scoring the winning run to secure their first victory of the season.

Michael Formisano started for Essendon, throwing 7.66 innings with six hits, two walks and two runs allowed, one of which was unearned. He also struck out three. Sam Street and Luke Abels pitched in relief.

Jack Enciondo and Russell Ferguson shared pitching duties for Cheltenham, with Enciondo contributing four scoreless innings including two hits, one walk and five strikeouts.

Cheltenham's Conor Myles doubled and tripled, while Sam Michael doubled and Dylan Trevorah had two base hits. Kane Davidson and Mack Turley singled as well.

Essendon's Ross Bament doubled while Christian Caminiti, Shoma
Ikehata and Jared Cruz all singled. Ikehata had two of Essendon's RBIs while Jarryd Rogers and Darby Sexton knocked the other runs in.

Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 19 v Fitzroy Lions 9

The Tigers took a 2-0 record after a massive day at the plate, led by Peter Schroeders with five RBIs. He drove in runs on a fielder's choice in the second, a walk in the third, a base hit in the sixth and another single in the ninth.

The base paths were busy in this high-scoring affair as the Tigers recorded 20 hits and Fitzroy had 13.

Fitzroy scored one in the bottom of the first but the Tigers soon took a 2-1 lead. There was some more back and forth as the Lions added three in the bottom of the second before Upwey Ferntree Gully scored five in the third. The Tigers scored one more in the fourth and two runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh before a quiet eighth. Finally, Upwey Ferntree Gully tacked on five more in the ninth to finish things off. Fitzroy scored two in the sixth and three in the eighth but it wasn't quite enough against the Tigers.

The big third inning was highlighted by a string of bases-loaded walks for Riley Light, Staci Rogers, Harvey Chinn and Schroeders. Upwey Ferntree Gully's Jordan Elliot doubled to score a run in the sixth while Fitzroy's James Little singled on the first pitch of his at-bat in the bottom half, scoring a run.

The big ninth inning was made possible by singles from Chris Williams, Schroeders and Elliot.

Fitzroy's final three runs in the eighth came thanks to a walk by Ryan Mitchell, a base hit by Damian Preston, and an extra-base hit by Ethan Epifanio.

Jarrod Turner got the win for the Tigers, surrendering four runs on six hits over five innings, with one walk and two strikeouts. Sean Meldrum threw four innings in relief.

Hill took the loss for Fitzroy after allowing four hits and seven runs over two and a third innings with one strikeout.

The Tigers had one home run on the day when Rogers sent one over the fence in the seventh. Chinn went 4-for-4 at the plate while Donavon Hendricks, Ash Winton, Light, Rogers and Schroeders all had multiple hits to back up a strong defence that made no errors.

Fitzroy managed 13 hits in the game, with multiple to Little, Tom Wilson, Preston and Tyler Trevaskis.

Blackburn Orioles 6 v Berwick City Cougars 5

The reigning premiers got a win on the board after dropping the first game to Cheltenham 16-11. The game was tied at one apiece after the second when Blackburn scored two in the top of the third.

The middle innings were quiet before the scoring started back up again, with Blackburn bringing in one in the top of the seventh before Berwick fired back with three. The Cougars were forced to keep playing catch up as the Orioles added another two in the eighth. One more Berwick run scored in the bottom of the ninth as the win slipped away, thanks to a couple of strong outfield throws from the Blackburn defence.

Berwick outhit Blackburn 12 to nine, while both sides made three errors, including one that cost the Cougars three runs. Aidan Willis had four hits for Berwick while Cooper Goodman and Luke Hughes had two apiece for Blackburn. Hughes, Ryan Berg and David Dicker all had a pair of walks to keep the Orioles on the bases.

Cain Bumpstead had four quality at-bats for Berwick while Hughes and Goodman had three each for the other side. Blackburn's Andrew Jones was strong on the mound, giving up seven hits and just one run in six innings with three strikeouts and 23 first-pitch strikes. Matthew West and John King both pitched three innings for Berwick while Aaron Ouwehand, Cameron Gibbens and Bumpstead filled in with short, single-inning appearances too.

Sunshine Eagles 12 v Melbourne Demons 1

Billy Parsons shined in a five inning quality start for Sunshine, keeping things scoreless with just two hits and nine strikeouts as the Eagles took control at the plate for win number two of the season. Sunshine Club Coach Stuart Clayton was pleased with his team's performance.

"We were defensively very good, and made the Melbourne pitchers work deep into the counts," Clayton said.

Not only did shortstop Jordan Young make some great plays, but he also had an extra-base hit and four walks in addition to a good inning of relief pitching along with teammate Adam Irons.

The Eagles scored in five of seven innings, with two runs in the first, five in the second, one in the third, three in the fifth and a final run in the sixth. Melbourne's lone run came in the sixth off the bat of Harvey Mitchelhill with a base hit.

Josh Byrne also had an extra-base hit as the Eagles racked up eight total compared to six for Melbourne. Bryce Aldridge had an RBI single while Byrne and Allan de San Miguel knocked in two runs apiece. Cameron Deeble had two base hits and an RBI while Parsons brought home two runners with a pair of base hits.

Melbourne had multiple pitchers on the mound in a bid to control the Sunshine lineup, with Mitchell Bowen, Mitchell Ellis, Cooper Gerwing, Hayden Godbold, Charles Keyhoe and Kye Stehr putting in pitching work. They combined for nine strikeouts and half of Sunshine's runs were unearned.

Photo: Lee Dare/Sunshine Baseball Club

Division 1 Seconds

Waverley Wildcats 8 v Geelong Baycats 7

It was a close matchup but Waverley scored three late runs to secure back-to-back wins. The Wildcats were first on the board in the second with five runs, although Geelong followed up with a four-run spot. Three more runs in the third swung the game in Geelong's favour, but after a scoreless fourth the Wildcats came back to score the winning run in the fifth.

Geelong's Hayden Peoples and Blake Witham shared pitching duties against the reigning premiers. Harper Rickard made some great plays at centre field but a few balls that may have been caught helped Waverley advance. James Renouf had 2 hits, including a double, while Dan Anson doubled and Rickard, Peoples, Blake Witham, and Adam Jirik all had base hits.

Geelong takes a 1-1 record into a home game v Malvern, while undefeated Waverley hosts Upwey Ferntree Gully next.

Blackburn Orioles 11 v Berwick City Cougars 6

The Orioles scored two runs in the top of the first and kept tacking onto their lead from there. It was a 5-1 ballgame after three, before more scoring made it 9-2 to Blackburn at the end of the fourth. The Orioles scored twice more in the fifth and gave up four runs to the Cougars to end the game, but they still came away with their second win of the season.

Berwick will look for a win at home v Sandringham this weekend while Blackburn hosts Essendon.

Cheltenham Rustlers 11 v Essendon Bombers 4

The Rustlers prevailed in a big outing to make up for a 5-0 loss the week before at the hands of Blackburn. The first inning was quiet before Cheltenham scored two in the second. Three more followed in the third for a 5-2 Cheltenham lead. The Bombers fired back with two in the bottom of the fifth, but a further six runs to the Rustlers in the sixth secured the win.

Now 1-1, Cheltenham hosts Melbourne for round three as Essendon visits Blackburn in search of a win.

Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 5 v Fitzroy Lions 1

The Tigers scored one on an error to open the game and they kept rolling from there, putting two on the board from the second and adding one run in both the fourth and fifth.

Keeley Ronalds-Greatbatch threw well for the Tigers, covering four innings with two hits and nine strikeouts. Darcy Mills pitched for Fitzroy, giving up five runs on six hits across six innings with three strikeouts.

Chris Williams had two hits in three at-bats for the undefeated Tigers, who visit Waverley for round three while Fitzroy looks for a win at Sunshine.

Malvern Braves 16 v Sandringham Royals 0

The Braves had the upper hand in this matchup thanks to early scoring, with one run in the first and eight in the second. Malvern went on to score an additional four in the fourth and three in the sixth to assume first place with 24 runs scored and just six given up in two wins.

Malvern is on the road to Geelong while Sandringham looks to bounce back at Berwick.

Sunshine Eagles 5 v Melbourne Demons 5

Both sides battled hard with Sunshine leading most of the game until Melbourne came back to tie it in the final stages with three runs.

Sunshine scored one in the first, three in the second and one in the fifth while Melbourne's two early runs came in the second.

The Eagles now have one win and a draw ahead of a home game v Fitzroy, while Melbourne heads to Cheltenham.

Division 1 Thirds

Melbourne Demons 6 v Sunshine Eagles 7

The Eagles took the lead with five runs in the second, and although the Demons fought back with five runs in the last two innings, Sunshine held on for the win.

Sunshine is now 1-1 ahead of a game at Fitzroy while Melbourne is looking for its first win at home v Cheltenham.

Fitzroy Lions 6 v Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 11

The Tigers are 2-0 after a big game v Fitzroy. The score was 2-1 in favour of Upwey Ferntree Gully after the first before the Tigers tacked on three more in the second. Fitzroy battled back with five runs in the third, followed by six more in the later innings for the Tigers.

Upwey Ferntree Gully hosts Waverley on Saturday and Fitzroy hosts Sunshine.

Berwick City Cougars 9 v Blackburn Orioles 5

The Cougars have won two in a row after getting on the board early with a pair of runs in the first and three in the second. Blackburn scored one in the second and two in the fourth, with a final two runs in the sixth.

Berwick's four-spot in the fifth gave the Cougars the boost they needed. The team has scored 18 runs and given up 13 so far in two wins, with the next game at Sandringham. Blackburn is 1-1 ahead of a game at Essendon.

Essendon Bombers 15 v Cheltenham Rustlers 1

The Bombers followed up on a solid 8-3 win over Sunshine in round one with a comprehensive performance over Cheltenham. Essendon scored one in the first and one in the second before a two-spot in the third. The Bombers scored another four in the fourth and seven in the fifth while the Rustlers only got one in the fourth.

Essendon is undefeated going into a home game v Blackburn, while Cheltenham heads to Melbourne looking for a win.

Sandringham Royals 8 v Malvern Braves 1

The Royals had an 8-8 with Waverley in the first round, but they got a big win on the board over Malvern on Saturday. Sandringham took a 2-1 lead into the third, and the Royals scored four in the fourth and two in the fifth.

Malvern has yet to win a game and will look to do so at home v Geelong, while Sandringham hosts Berwick in pursuit of back-to-back wins.

Geelong Baycats 14 v Waverley Wildcats 11

The 2019/20 VSBL Division 1 Thirds Champions were bested by another top contender on Sunday as the Baycats brought their A-game at the plate.

Geelong scored five early runs while Waverley answered with two, followed by a scoreless second on both sides. The Baycats scored three more in the third but the Wildcats were right there, responding with eight runs.

The Baycats weren't fazed by the two-run deficit, scoring six runs in the top of the fourth to take the lead. Waverley got one more at the end of the game but it wasn't quite enough. The undefeated Baycats play Malvern in the third round, while Waverley has one loss and a draw going into a game at Upwey Ferntree Gully.

Division 1 Fourths

Geelong Baycats 4 v Waverley Wildcats 15

Geelong opened the game with two runs, but Waverley fired back with seven runs in the bottom half. The Wildcats scored one run in the second and the Baycats scored two runs in the fourth, but Waverley wrapped it up with a seven-run fourth.

Both teams only had two hits, which Lucas Ash and Duane Davenport singling for Geelong. Noah Brennan threw 2.1 innings for the Baycats with three strikeouts.

Waverley is 2-0 and plays Upwey Ferntree Gully next while Geelong is 0-2 going into a game at Malvern.

Fitzroy Lions 8 v Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 9

The Tigers evened up their record with a one-run win over Fitzroy. The Lions scored one in the first, but Upwey Ferntree Gully answered with two runs. The game was 6-1 in favour of the Tigers after the second, but Fitzroy fought back with five runs in the third.

The back and forth continued with two more runs to Upwey Ferntree Gully. Fitzroy scored two runs in the top of the fourth to tie it up, but the Tigers came away with the winning run in the bottom of the fourth.

With both sides at 1-1, Upwey Ferntree Gully hosts Waverley for the third round and Fitzroy hosts Sunshine.

Essendon Bombers 14 v Cheltenham Rustlers 2

Last year's premiers won big on Sunday, jumping out to a three-run lead before tacking on four runs in the third. The score was 7-0 going into the fifth when the Bombers scored an extra three runs. Cheltenham's two runs came in the bottom of the fifth but Essendon wasn't fazed, scoring a final four runs in the top of the sixth.

0-2 Cheltenham plays Melbourne next while 2-0 Essendon hosts Blackburn.

Sandringham Royals 8 v Malvern Braves 5

The Braves have dropped their first two games but still show plenty of potential after manufacturing some solid offence against a strong Sandringham side. The Royals scored three in the first frame followed by one run in both the second and third before a further four runs came around in the fourth. Malvern's runs came in the first and fourth, when four runs narrowed the deficit.

Sandringham is 1-1 and at home v Berwick this weekend while 0-2 Malvern hosts Geelong.

Melbourne Demons 17 v Sunshine Eagles 3

The Demons ran wild in this game in a similar fashion to their 14-0 win over Upwey Ferntree Gully the week before. Melbourne scored four in the first, three in the third and four in the fourth before Sunshine got three back. The fifth saw six more Demons cross the plate and the Eagles were left scoreless once again in the final frame.

After two losses the Eagles are preparing to take on Fitzroy, while Melbourne sits atop the ladder with a home game v Cheltenham up next.

Berwick City Cougars 0 v Blackburn Orioles 0

It was a great day defensively for these two sides, although neither offence did much to get ahead. The pitcher's duel saw six scoreless innings as both sides took their first draws of the season.

Blackburn and Berwick are 1-0-1 going into the next round v Essendon and Sandringham, respectively.

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