Diamond Valley won the 2019 U16 State Winter Championships in Latrobe Valley with a fantastic team performance on Sunday afternoon. They bounced back from an early deficit to overcome Geelong and take home the title of U16 State Winter Champions.
Congratulations to Diamond Valley and well done to all the players and teams who participated! Thanks to the support of Latrobe City Council, Viva and Ausport, as well as the efforts of Latrobe Valley Baseball Association, Morwell Cougars and Traralgon Redsox Baseball Clubs, this tournament was a huge success for the Victorian baseball community.
Congrats, Diamond Valley!
Dandenong vs. Ringwood
This highly anticipated matchup saw Ringwood jump out to an early lead with three singles in the first from Jack Ratcliffe, Aden Higgins and Blake Mitchell.
Dandenong's Jack Conell had a base hit in the bottom of the first, but he didn't come around to score as Ringwood's Finley Ronalds-Greatbatch struck out two. Higgins had his second hit of the day with a double in the second, but pitcher Damien Bodey stranded the runner with a strikeout.
Ronalds-Greatbatch recorded three more strikeouts in the bottom of the second, needing just 13 pitches to retire Dandenong's batters. Blake Mitchell had another hit in the third, but the pitcher's duel continued as both teams were kept scoreless in the middle innings. It wasn't until the fourth that Ringwood scored their third and final run on a bases-loaded walk.
Dandenong's Mitchell Johnston doubled to start the bottom of the fifth, but with Higgins on the mound Ringwood shut down their last scoring chances. This marks Ringwood's second win of the tournament while Dandenong drops to 1-2-1. Noah Toplis covered two innings in relief of Damien Bodey, giving up just two hits and two walks with no runs allowed. Ringwood relied on Ronalds-Greatbatch, who had six strikeouts and just one hit across four innings.
Diamond Valley vs. Sunraysia
Sunraysia put together a late scoring effort to come within one, but Diamond Valley held on to go 4-0 in their first four games of the tournament.
The game opened with Angelina Kichakov on the mound for Diamond Valley, and she needed just 13 pitches to get three outs. When Diamond Valley came up to bat in the bottom of the first, they had scoring on their mind, and it showed as they took back-to-back walks and scored their first run on Liam Robertson's single. Another run came in on a groundout, and Kichakov added a 2-RBI single before stealing two bases and coming around to score on an error.
Sunraysia couldn't get any scoring started in the top of the second either, getting out on just 11 pitches from Kichakov as she continued her impressive game. Sunraysia's Zach Stainer kept Diamond Valley under control in the bottom frame, and the top of the third saw them stage a promising comeback. Ronan Scott had a 1-out single, Rahmen Martinez walked and Bailey Edgar reached on an error that put runners in scoring position. A bases-loaded walk brought in Sunraysia's first run, and it wasn't long before Jackson Malycha hit a 2-RBI single.
Colby Lawton followed up with an RBI base hit as Sunraysia narrowed the deficit to just one, but it wasn't enough as Diamond Valley got the job done in the end. They loaded the bases in the bottom of the third to try and extend their lead, but to no avail. Sunraysia had one more shot to take the lead in the top of the fourth, but they left two runners stranded.
Pitching was a strong point for both sides as Zach Stainer threw two innings of no-hit baseball for Sunraysia and Kichakov had no earned runs (four unearned) and two strikeouts in 2.2 innings, followed up with Mace Poole's scoreless relief appearance.
Geelong vs. Latrobe Valley
Cooper Tipping, Jet Quach and Harry Fitzgerald had two hits each to carry Geelong over Latrobe Valley, improving their record to 3-1.
After a heartbreaking loss late in the game against Diamond Valley to finish off Day 1, Geelong came back this morning determined to make a statement, and that they did, dominating Latrobe Valley both offensively and defensively. The Geelong lineup manufactured five runs in the bottom of the first on three singles, two errors and a walk. Latrobe Valley got one back in the top of the second, but they were kept scoreless the rest of the day with just one hit from Anthony Smith in the top of the third.
Meanwhile Geelong kept things moving with their bats, adding another five spot in the second on two singles, four walks and a handful of errors. In the bottom of the third, Geelong took five straight walks to work their way up to a 14-run lead.
This massive win gave Geelong a much-needed boost to remain in Grand Final contention. Jake Elderfield did a great job on the mound for Geelong, pitching the whole game and giving up just a lone hit along the way.
Ringwood vs. Diamond Valley
Ringwood made the most of their scoring opportunities and handed Diamond Valley their first loss of the tournament in a big matchup. Declan Spiers and Liam Robertson singled with two outs but Spiers was tagged out as he tried to come home.
The bottom frame saw Ringwood dominate with their bats, putting up four runs after three walks and an RBI single by James Squire. Another run was scored on a passed ball and a groundout helped Ringwood take a 4-0 lead. Diamond Valley cut their deficit in half their next turn up as Thomas Medland sent the ball sailing into right field for a lead-off triple. Max Corcoran scored him with a groundout, before Connor Pilatti doubled to keep Ringwood on their toes. Josh Jedretich and David Carroll walked and a fielder's choice scored another run.
Now ahead by just two, Ringwood made it 5-2 in the bottom of the second with an RBI base hit by Aden Higgins. Spiers, Medland and Corcoran all had hits in the top of the third as Diamond Valley scored their third and final run of the game.
Ryan Wu pitched well in the bottom of the third, keeping Ringwood off the board with 14 pitches, while Hudson Priamo did the same for Ringwood in the top of the fourth. Seven pitches was all it took to get Ringwood off the field and back up to bat, and they added two runs with two outs. Priamo and Higgins singled while Harry Elustondo reached on an error.
Diamond Valley had seven hits and one error on the day compared to four hits for Ringwood. Despite the loss Diamond Valley still finished atop the ladder and secured home team advantage for the Grand Final, while Ringwood went to battle for third place with Dandenong.
Sunraysia vs. Latrobe Valley
Latrobe Valley had some tough losses at the tournament, but they broke through and got a well-deserved win in their final game of the day. They opened the game with an amazing home run by Jacob Dickinson, who was cheered on by his teammates as he rounded the bases.
Sunraysia answered in the bottom of the first with a lead-off double by Rhamen Martinez and a walk to Zach Stainer. Martinez came around to score on a wild pitch, and although Colby Lawton singled, one run was all they got.
Martinez managed to retire all three Latrobe Valley batters in the top of the second in just 16 pitches, giving his team the chance to score two runs in the bottom frame. Jonty WIlson walked and Blake Peterson doubled as Sunraysia captured a 3-1 lead. It didn't last long as they committed two errors in the top of the third, giving Latrobe Valley the chance to even the score with RBI singles by Josh Burgar and Darcy Cummins. They didn't stop there, as Burgar stole home and Jackson Malycha knocked two runs in on a big single. With a 6-3 lead, Latrobe Valley was looking good, especially as Dickinson led the way on the mound in the bottom of the third with three key strikeouts to leave two runners stranded.
Sunraysia recorded two quick outs on four pitches in the top of the fourth, but Caleb Jackway reached on an error and Declan Gregor brought him in with a base hit. In Sunraysia's final time up to bat they came within two runs with a groundout from Hayden Chase and a hit by Dean Bone, but the game ended with Latrobe Valley in front.
Dickinson recorded six strikeouts across his three innings on the mound, while Martinez had four strikeouts for Sunraysia.
Geelong vs. Dandenong
Geelong cemented their place in the Grand Final with a hard-fought win over Dandenong, in which they scored four runs in the final inning to get ahead.
Dandenong started the game with Nick Bertucci's triple, followed by a walk to Angelo Reale Rontos. Xander Gunn singled in the first run.
Harper Rickard led off for Geelong, hitting a ground ball and reaching on an error, but three straight strikeouts saw Geelong remain scoreless through the first. Aspen McGovern retired the side on 12 pitches, while Noah Brennan singled to lead off the second for Geelong, but Nick Bertucci struck out three to bring Dandenong back up to bat. The top of the third was a god one for Dandenong, as they tacked on two more runs with two walks, Gunn's second single of the game and a ground ball error.
Geelong wasn't giving up yet, and Rickard walked in the bottom of the third before scoring on an error. Tanner Stott came in to pitch and kept Dandenong quiet in the top of the fourth. Bertucci recorded three more strikeouts in the bottom of the fourth. Dandenong scored their fourth and final run in the top of fifth as Reale Rontos singled and scored on a wild pitch. In their last chance to turn the score in their favour, Geelong did just that, plating four in the bottom of the fifth. Connor Tipping, Hayden Peoples, Rickard, Harry Fitzgerald and Jet Quach singled as the go-ahead run came home and Geelong earned a thrilling victory, giving them great momentum heading into the grand final.
Dandenong had five hits and two errors while Geelong had six hits and one error in the game. Bertucci had 11 strikeouts in the game as he continued his terrific tournament. This loss put Dandenong in fourth place for the third-place decider against Ringwood.
Third Place vs. Fourth Place
Ringwood vs. Dandenong
Ringwood was on a roll today, winning their third straight game to take third place in the tournament. All-star Finley Ronalds-Greatbatch led the way with two hits and two RBI's to help Ringwood pull away with the win.
One run in the bottom of the first put Ringwood ahead but not for long as Dandenong answered with a pair of runs in the top of the second. Mason Haimona knocked two in with a timely 2-out single. Ringwood had a response in the bottom of the second as Blake Mitchell singled, Zeke Doyle was hit by pitch and Hudson Priamo brought them both home with a blazing triple. Three walks, a sacrifice fly and singles by James Squire and Harry Elustondo propelled Ringwood to a 6-2 advantage.
Mitchell was able to retire the side in the top of the third with eight pitches only, and an error coupled with two-out hits by Ethan Jenkins, Jack Ratcliffe and Ronalds-Greatbatch put Ringwood ahead by seven.
Noah Toplis had a base hit for Dandenong in the top of the fourth but they weren't able to make up the deficit and Ringwood came away victorious for a sweet third place finish.
First Place vs. Second Place
Diamond Valley vs. Geelong
These two teams had met on Saturday afternoon for a big back-and-forth battle that saw Diamond Valley walk off with a 10-9 victory. It was a bittersweet loss for Geelong, and they looked to redeem themselves by opening the game confidently with great pitching by Hayden Peoples. Geelong struck first with two runs in the second on an error and a groundout. Diamond Valley's pitcher Angus Stals struck out the last two batters to get out of the inning, and his team tried to back him up with two runners reaching in the bottom of the second to no avail.
Geelong carried a two-run lead into the top of the third, when a leadoff double from Harper Rickard and a single by Peoples added another run. From there on out the game shifted in Diamond Valley's favour, when they stepped up their game and made the most of some scoring opportunities. Three consecutive singles by Max Corcoran, Ryan Wu and Campbell Every loaded the bases for Jake Elderfield, who tied the game with a triple. Liam Robertson scored the go-ahead run on a single, and an error saw Diamond Valley take a 5-3 lead.
Diamond Valley protected their lead in the top of the fourth, denying Geelong the chance to score in the top of the fourth despite taking two walks. Diamond Valley extended their lead to 10-3 in the bottom of the fourth. Mace Poole and Corcoran singled, Wu walked and Every singled. Connor Pilatti brought a run in on a fielder's choice and Robertson doubled to seal the deal for Diamond Valley. Declan Spiers was named Diamond Valley's All-Star player of the tournament, and the team celebrated their comeback grand final victory in excited and enthusiastic fashion.
Congratulations, Diamond Valley!