The 2020/21 VSBL Division 1 season is coming to an end with semi-finals for the Seconds, Thirds, and Fourths this weekend. After washouts in the round 16, the Firsts took the field for the semi-finals on Tuesday night.
Division 1 Firsts
Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 1 v Waverley Wildcats 6
The Wildcats got the first win of the series with a solid performance over the Tigers, a team they beat 5-0 in round four and 8-5 in round six.
The two teams were pretty even in the regular season, with Waverley finishing on top on 11 wins and two losses. The Wildcats collected 90 runs or and 45 runs against while 10-3 Upwey came in second on a 10-3 record with 84 runs for and 50 against.
Waverley hosts the second game on Saturday with the first pitch at 2:00pm. If the Tigers get a win and even the series, they will host game three on Sunday.
Upwey Ferntree Gully last won the Division 1 flag in 2001/02, while Waverley won back in 2010/11.
Sunshine Eagles 1 v Essendon Bombers 3
The Eagles need to win the next two to get back in the grand final after missing out on the premiership in game three last year. Sunshine beat Essendon 10-0 all the way back in round one.
The Eagles finished with the fourth best record overall, with eight wins, four losses, and one draw. They scored 76 runs and gave up 51 in the regular season, while 7-6 Essendon scored 54 and allowed 45.
Sunshine hosts game two on Saturday at 2:00pm and the third game will be at Essendon if required on Sunday.
The Bombers last won the flag in 2016/17 while Sunshine is hoping to snap a decades-long Division 1 drought.
Division 1 Seconds
Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 5 v Cheltenham Rustlers 2
The Tigers scored one in the first, two in the second, and another two in the third before Cheltenham got one on the board. The rest of the game was scoreless apart from one Cheltenham run in the bottom of the eighth.
The Tigers lost their last three games of the season after a 7-0 undefeated run, and it was just two weeks ago that they were beat by Cheltenham in a 6-5 walk off. Their strong semi-final performance against the minor premiers included a good start from Keeley Ronalds-Greatbatch, who threw six and a third innings with just three hits, one run, and four strikeouts.
Michael Oxworth had a sacrifice fly to start the scoring against Cheltenham pitcher Josh Tribe, who gave up five runs on five hits in four innings with one strikeout. Andrew Campbell pitched five innings in relief.
Josh Ashen had Cheltenham two hits in five at-bats for Cheltenham as Oxworth, Randy Senn, Evan Phillips, Will Richardson, and Andrew Kane had one hit each for Upwey Ferntree Gully.
Essendon hosts Upwey Ferntree Gully for Sunday's grand final at 2:00pm
Essendon Bombers 6 v Waverley Wildcats 2
Essendon had the upper hand over the reigning premiers, getting a ticket to the grand final and a shot at their first Reserves premiership since 2011/12.
Essendon finished the regular season second on the ladder with seven wins and three losses on 64 runs for and 67 runs against. The Bombers face Upwey Ferntree Gully in the final, a team that finished third on the same record. Essendon won 4-3 in the round 11 matchup.
Division 1 Thirds
Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 2 v Geelong Baycats 9
The Baycats are headed back to the grand final after getting ahead of Upwey Ferntree Gully.
Although the Tigers scored two in the first, the Baycats battled back with three runs in the second and two in the third. Geelong scored two more in both the fifth and sixth.
The Baycats finished second on the ladder with an 8-2 record and 96 runs for v 50 runs against. Their grand final opponent Berwick finished fourth at 7-3 on 63 runs scored and 69 runs allowed.
Berwick City Cougars 5 v Sandringham Royals 3
The Cougars outlasted the Royals, upsetting the ladder leaders with a late comeback from a 3-0 deficit. The Royals put one on in the third, fourth, and fifth, before the Cougars followed suit with the same scoring across the next three innings. Two runs in the ninth put Berwick ahead.
Geelong hosts Sunday's grand final at 2:00pm. Geelong won 12-0 back in round four.
Division 1 Fourths
Berwick City Cougars 9 v Melbourne Demons 13
The Demons took an early 3-0 lead and kept going from there. By the end of the fourth it was a 9-2 ballgame. Melbourne scored two more in both the fifth and the sixth and held off Berwick's seven-run rally.
Melbourne will have a big test against the back-to-back champions in the grand final. Both teams had a 9-1 record with Melbourne just ahead with 117 runs for and 39 against, compared to 140 for and 54 against by Essendon. Melbourne won 9-8 in a close round four matchup.
Blackburn Orioles 6 v Essendon Bombers 7
The Bombers have the chance to go three in a row after besting Blackburn by one run. Essendon scored two in the first before the Orioles tied it up in the third. Both sides tacked on three in the fourth but Essendon pulled ahead with two in the fifth, although Blackburn gave them a fright coming within one in the final frame.
Essendon shut down the scoring threat to end the game and now turns their focus on the grand final at Melbourne at 2:00pm on Sunday.