There's less than two months to go in the VSBL Division 1 season as teams look to finish strong, with Upwey Ferntree Gully, Waverley, Sunshine, and Cheltenham leading the charge.
Division 1 Firsts
Blackburn Orioles 7 v Geelong Baycats 3
The Orioles had the upper hand over the Baycats after scoring some late runs to pull ahead.
The game was tied at two after the first, with no more scoring through the fifth as both teams held steady at defence. The Baycats broke the tie with one in the sixth, but the Orioles battled back with two in the seventh and three in the eighth.
Blackburn's Andrew Jones threw five innings, giving up just four hits and two runs with one walk, one HBP, and two strikeouts. Rowan Johnstone struck out two in two scoreless innings with one walk and one HBP, while Scott Mitchinson had three hits, two walks, two HBP, one run, and two K's in two innings.
Geelong's Rudy Jaramillo hurled 18 first-pitch strikes across seven innings with seven hits, one walk, and four runs as well as two strikeouts. Josh Davies had a perfect scoreless inning, quickly retiring the Blackburn side, while Jack Fielden contributed an inning of relief as the Orioles managed two hits and three walks for three runs.
Steven Bookluck had a pair of RBIs for Blackburn with a single and a double as Liam Hopkins, Luke Hughes, Thomas Kerr-Chapman, and Nick Rossell had one each. Ryan Berg, Hopkins, and Hughes doubled while David Dicker had two singles. The team's other hits were singles to Hopkins and Kerr-Chapman.
Tyler Luther-Wilson had a single, RBI, and HBP for Geelong as Kelli Zablan homered once and singled twice to bring in two runs. James Wood, Lewis Weldon, and Josh Davies all singled.
Geelong sits sixth at 4-3 with 62 runs for and 32 runs against, while Blackburn is a spot above at 5-2-1 on 48 runs for and 45 runs against.
Both teams face Upwey Ferntree Gully coming up while Geelong also takes on Sunshine and Blackburn plays Fitzroy.
Cheltenham Rustlers 13 v Malvern Braves 9
The Rustlers ran wild but also gave up some runs to the Braves in a big day offensively for both sides.
Malvern led 1-0 after the first but Cheltenham scored six in the second. Both the Rustlers and the Braves tacked on three in the fourth. At the end of the fifth it was a 9-7 ballgame Cheltenham's way, and the Rustlers continued to extend their lead. The Braves scored two in the eighth but the Rustlers got them right back in the ninth to secure their sixth win and move into the top spot.
Cheltenham's Andrew Campbell pitched five innings with six hits, one walk, one HBP, two runs - one unearned - and a strikeout. Russell Ferguson handled four innings with nine hits, three walks, one HBP, seven runs, and three strikeouts. Ryan Dale, Tyler Dale, and Ryan Othen shared pitching duties for the Braves, giving up 17 combined hits and 11 walks to Cheltenham.
Cheltenham's Sam Michael and Ben Fierenzi had three RBIs each as Dylan Trevorah, Conor Myles, Andrew Gribbin, Jack Dunn, and Dante Caruso plated on each. Michael doubled while the rest of the team's were singles, with four to Fierenzi, three to Gribbin, and two apiece for Caruso, Dunn, Leslie, and Michael.
Henry Hayman and Othen had two RBIs for Malvern as Geoff Holland, Lachlan Fuda, Scott Ashton, Justin Burke, and Dale had one each. Othen singled and doubled twice while Jack Hangar had the team's other extra-base hit. Hayman singled three times, with two base hits for Fuda Holland, and Gavin Woolger.
Malvern sits tenth with a 1-6-1 record on 34 runs for and 72 against. First-place Cheltenham has a 6-2 record with 66 runs for and 44 runs against. Malvern plays Essendon and Cheltenham plays Waverley and Berwick next.
Melbourne Demons 1 v Fitzroy Lions 4
It was a tight matchup to start but eventually the Lions got on the board to secure their first victory of the year. They scored once in the third and three times in the sixth, while Melbourne's lone run came in the ninth.
Brock Pawley got the win, throwing the whole game with seven hits, three walks, one HBP, and five strikeouts. Hayden Godbold threw five for Melbourne, with six hits, one walk, and four runs - three of them earned. He struck out six while teammate Mitch Bowen had one K and two walks in two scoreless innings. Nicholas Cleland walked one in his inning of work.
Ryan Mitchell plated two of Fitzroy's runs on a single while Danny King and Riley Hill had the others. Fitzroy's offence included singles from Mitchell, Gideon Van Twest Smith, Tyler Trevaskis, Warwick Purchase, and Gavin Juchnevicius.
Charlie O'Connell knocked in Melbourne's only run with a single and a walk, while Oliver McMahon and Sadi Nergiz singled and Bronson Neave doubled.
Fitzroy sits eleventh with a 1-6 record on 16 runs for and 84 runs against, while Melbourne is one spot behind with a 1-7 record on 22 runs for and 57 against. In addition to the Demons, the Lions have upcoming games at the Orioles while Melbourne plays Waverley.
Berwick City Cougars 4 v Sunshine Eagles 0
The Cougars enjoyed an exciting shutout victory over last season's runners-up, thanks to a strong seven-inning start from Craig Barnett. He gave up five hits and a walk with six strikeouts, while teammate Aaron Ouwehand gave up just one hit in two innings.
Sunshine's Adam Irons threw seven innings with five hits, two walks, four earned runs, and two strikeouts. Griffin Weir covered two scoreless innings with just one hit allowed.
Marcus Graham plated two of Berwick's runs with a big single with Barnett knocking in another. Berwick only had singles on the night, including three to Cain Bumpstead and one to Andrew Gibbens. Sunshine's offence included two singles from Jason Tutt as well as base hits by Nathan Gatt, Allister Lovelock, Irons, and Weir.
Berwick improves to 3-5 in ninth place while Sunshine drops from first to fourth place with five wins, two losses, and a draw. The Eagles have scored 55 runs and given up 27 so far while the Cougars have scored 45 and given up 46. Berwick's next games are at Sandringham and Cheltenham as the Eagles prepare for upcoming matchups at Geelong and Sandringham.
Sandringham Royals 0 v Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 1
It took them extra innings, but the Tigers earned their second shutout victory of the year in a close contest v the Royals, made possible by Jarrod Turner's nine-inning start with 25 first-pitch strikes. He had six hits, four walks, and four strikeouts.
Sean Meldrum pitched the other three innings, finishing the game with a groundout from Harrison Wills. Meldrum struck out one and gave up no hits or runs, just two walks, in his appearance.
Branden Stenhouse took the loss for Sandringham after throwing five innings. He allowed the deciding run, with seven hits, four walks, and six strikeouts. 13 of his first pitches were strikes. Teammate Declan Croker threw seven scoreless innings with six hits, two walks, 17 first-pitch strikes, and three strikeouts.
The Tigers scattered 13 hits in the game as Peter Schroeders went 3-for-5 with two singles and a double. Donavon Hendricks had three singles and one RBI, while Riley Light and Wade McConnon had two singles each. Harvey Chinn, Joshua Hendricks, and Jordan Elliot singled once.
Zak Skinner had two singles for Sandringham as Declan Ferguson, Timothy Lane, Harrison Wills, and Sam Skinner each collected one. Both teams took six walks on the day.
Sandringham sits eighth with a 3-4-1 on 44 runs for and 41 runs against. Upwey Ferntree Gully stays in second place, now with six wins and two losses on 59 runs for and 33 runs against. The Royals play Berwick and Sunshine next as the Tigers take on Blackburn and Geelong in upcoming games.
Essendon Bombers 2 v Waverley Wildcats 8
The Wildcats won their fifth straight game with a strong performance at home v the Bombers.
The game was 2-1 Waverley's way after the first, while the next three innings were quiet. The Wildcats got back on the board with two in the fifth and four in the seventh, while holding the Bombers to just one more in the eighth.
Jamie Papanicolaou got the win for Waverley, throwing six quality innings with just one run allowed. He gave up three hits and a walk with three strikeouts. Darcy Longstaff contributed three innings with one run on two hits with three K's.
Essendon's Sam Street gave up six earned runs and two unearned runs in six innings with seven hits, three walks, one HBP, and six strikeouts. Russell Spear and Kyle Douglass threw one inning each. Douglass struck out one in his scoreless inning while Spear recorded two K's with two hits and one walk.
Three Waverley players had two RBIs each - Mitchell Homfray, Mohi Kahui, and Jordan Ley. Reece Longstaff also plated a run. Homfray singled twice and doubled once while Finn Weichard and Ley also doubled. Weichard and Damon Hill singled once and Kahui had two base hits.
Jarryd Rogers and Mcleod Sell knocked in the two Essendon runs, both with homers, as Darby Sexton doubled and Michael Formisano and Christian Caminiti singled.
Waverley moves up a spot to third with a 6-2 record on 55 runs for and 27 runs against. Essendon stays in seventh place with four wins, four losses, 37 runs for, and 35 runs against. The Wildcats have upcoming games v Cheltenham and Melbourne, while the Bombers battle Malvern next.