In the 2021/22 VSBL Division 1 Firsts Semi-Finals, Upwey Ferntree Gully overpowered Waverley while Essendon beat Geelong in a best-of-three series to book their spots in the grand final.
The final series between the Tigers and the Bombers begins at Melbourne Ballpark on Tuesday night with first pitch at 7:00pm. Saturday's game starts at 4:00pm and, if required, Sunday's game three will start at 4:00pm.
Click HERE to view fixtures/results and catch up on recaps from the semi-finals to see how Upwey Ferntree Gully and Essendon secured their chance at grand final glory.
Division 1 Firsts Semi-Finals
Game 1: Geelong Baycats 0 v Essendon Bombers 10
After finishing atop the ladder with a 17-3-2 record in the regular season, the Bombers extended their winning streak to seven with a convincing 10-0 shutout win over the Baycats at Melbourne Ballpark on Tuesday.
Starter Sam Street struck out seven and allowed just three hits in eight scoreless innings while Jarryd Rogers delivered at the plate with a game-high five RBIs.
The Bombers opened the scoring early with an error on a Jarryd Cruz groundball and Jack Giles' double. Rogers brought in a second run in the fourth before Ross Bament’s two-run single put Essendon in front 4-0.
Declan Speirs added an RBI single in the sixth as more two-out damage turned it into an eight-run game. Rogers drove in a pair of runs with a double and capped off a big night with a two-run single in the eighth.
Street faced just two over the minimum in a dominant start for Essendon, never facing more than one runner on base and twice working around lead-off hits for quick outs to secure the victory.
Game 2: Geelong Baycats 6 v Essendon Bombers 2
In need of a win to keep their finals hopes alive, Geelong delivered a late rally to overcome Essendon 6-2 and send their semi-final series to a third and deciding game.
Essendon's Ross Bament brought home a run on a second-inning double, but Geelong tied it up with starting pitcher Rudy Jaramillo's home run in the fourth.
Michael Formisano hit an RBI-single in the sixth, giving Essendon a 2-1 lead that was short-lived as Geelong tied it up with a single from James Wood and a two-out RBI double from Tyler Luther-Wilson.
Josh Davies hit a groundball to put the Baycats up by one in the eighth, followed by Lewis Weldon's single making it 4-2.
Geelong padded their lead with a pair of two-out runs in the top of the ninth, thanks to Keli’i Zablan's single and a bases-loaded walk.
Rudy Jaramillo tossed a scoreless ninth to complete the game, striking out seven in nine innings with two runs on eight hits and a walk.
Game 3: Essendon Bombers 6 v Geelong Baycats 4
Reigning premiers Essendon will return to the grand final in search of back-to-back premierships after an extra-inning win over Geelong in the deciding game.
Jack Giles singled to drive in the go-ahead run after Essendon started the 10th with runners on first and second. Jared Cruz walked to load the bases and Jarryd Rogers hit a sacrifice fly.
Michael Formisano retired the Baycats in the bottom of the 10th to seal the victory in a close game, which started with Essendon taking an early 4-0 lead.
Ross Bament doubled and Michael Formisano singled with one out in the second before scoring on Scott McIntyre's double.
Cody Rodwell’s two-run homer extended lead to four, but Geelong's Lewis Weldon hit a two-run single in the fourth to cut the deficit in half.
Weldon singled with bases loaded for a pair of RBIs as the Baycats tied it up in the eighth. Geelong starter Sam Gibbons kept the team's hopes alive with by stranding a pair of runners in the top of the ninth.
Ryan Darcy singled with one out in the bottom of the ninth but the Baycats couldn't quite walk it off, sending the game to extra innings where Essendon ultimately prevailed.
In another quality start for the Bombers, Sam Street struck out 11 and gave up four runs (three earned) in 8.33 innings. Gibbons tossed all 10 innings for the Baycats with 10 strikeouts.
Essendon will now play Upwey Ferntree Gully in the grand final series at Melbourne Ballpark.
Game 1: Waverley Wildcats 3 v Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 7
Upwey Ferntree Gully managed a ninth straight win to take the lead in the semi-finals series after finishing atop the Eastern Conference with a 14-7-2 record in the regular season.
Tigers starter Jarrod Turner went seven innings, allowing one run on six hits with nine strikeouts while Luke Papanicolaou threw five two-run innings for the Wildcats.
Waverley was first on the board with singles from Mitchell Wilhite and Damon Hill in the third, but Upwey Ferntree Gully soon responded with Peter Schroeders' double, Wade McConnon's single, and Harvey Chinn's sacrifice fly. Jack Ratcliffe singled to bring home Andy Kane in the fourth, putting Upwey in front.
Back-to-back singles from Ned Hargreaves and Mitchell Homfray in the eighth helped Waverley pull ahead, but the game wasn't over as the Tigers stage a five-run rally. McConnon reached on an error and Chinn tripled to tie it up at 3-3, followed by a huge RBI double from Jordan Elliot for the lead.
Ratcliffe drew a bases-loaded walk and Schroeders finished off the rally with a two-run single, setting the stage for Donavon Hendricks to shut the door on Waverley in the top of the ninth.
Hendricks gave up a lead-off single in the final frame but it was erased by a double play, giving the Tigers the advantage going into the second game.
Game 2: Waverley Wildcats 3 v Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers 6
The Tigers advanced to the grand final with another eighth-inning offensive burst to break the tie, featuring a lead-off triple from Harvey Chinn and the go-ahead base hit off the bat of Jordan Elliott. Two-out singles from Jarrod Turner and Jack Ratcliffe added to Upwey’s lead.
Turner closed out the win in the ninth, working around a pair of walks to finish a third scoreless relief inning and keep the Tigers' hopes of a premiership flag alive.
Upwey Ferntree Gully had the advantage from the start, taking a 3-0 lead in the first with the help of Elliott's two-RBI base hit and Josh Hendricks' sacrifice fly.
Waverley wasn't going down without a fight, slowly chipping away at the deficit with Damon Hill's triple and Finn Weichard's RBI in the second. Mitchell Homfray doubled before scoring on Jordan Ley's single, too.
By the middle of the sixth, scores were level after a big two-out single from Mitchell Wilhite scored Waverley's third run. But for a second time in as many games, Upwey piled on the runs late in the game for a successful eighth inning rally.
Tigers starter Donavon Hendricks went six innings, allowing three runs on six hits while Waverley's Darcy Longstaff steadied after the early runs and finished with five strikeouts in 6.67 innings.
Now the Tigers turn their attention to the grand final matchup against last year's champs, with the two sides facing off at Melbourne Ballpark on Tuesday night.