The best junior baseball players from around Victoria converged on Knox baseball club this weekend for the Little League State Championships. The competition was comprised of three separate divisions; Minor, Development and All Stars. This aimed to give a large range of players the opportunity to represent their charter and experience the unique and exciting nature of tournament baseball.
Day 1 of competition was a mixed bag for all four charters. Little League Major revealed some power house offensive units with the Eastern Athletics and the Twins both having large wins over the Geelong Baycats. The Southern Mariners however took care of the Twins with a 5 - 10 win off the strength of good pitching performances from Cooper Drummond, Lachlan Smith and Ryan Langworthy.
In the Development League, the Athletics and the Twins showed off the depth of their programs with another couple of substantial wins. When the two played off in the afternoon however, it was the A’s that came out on top.
In the Minors, The Mariner’s went hard at the Twins and were rewarded with a tight 4 - 3 win and then battled the Athletics in the afternoon for a 5 all draw.
Day 2 gave us some fantastic weather and thanks to a hard working grounds crew curtesy of the Knox Baseball Club, the grounds came up brilliant. The Athletic Majors eked out a 9 - 8 victory over the Mariners in extra innings thanks to a walk off home run from Aiden Patterson.
The Baycat Majors put a respectable 9 runs on the board but were ultimately bested by the Southern Mariners and the Twins handed their first loss of the tournament.
Little League Development saw two rounds of extremely tight games. The Southern Mariners B played a spirited head to head against their home town rivals, Mariners A. The match was tight all the way to the end but the B side managed to come out on top, winning 13 - 12. They then had to back it up against a strong Twins side but were bested in another tight game, losing to the Twins 14 - 13.
In the Minors, the Mariners took a hard fought win over the Twins, winning by a single run but the Twins were able to rally, winning their second game of the day convincingly over the Athletics. In the afternoon, the Mariners were able to find their feet and beat the A’s 14 - 10.
Day 3 saw even better weather than the day before, reaching a sunny 29 degrees and setting the stage for the pointy end of the competition.
Sunday morning is all about finding out who will playoff in the final that afternoon. Two semi finals in LL Major division with first placed Twins playing forth placed Baycats and the second game between Eatstern Athletics(2nd) and Southern Mariners(3rd). The scoreboard doesn’t reflect how close these games were with Twins and Mariners coming out on top and advancing to the final. Baycats and Athletics would play off for third with Athletics being the victors of that game.
The Development Division had been exciting all weekend with Athletics and Twins advancing to the final. Mariners entered two teams have blooded some players for next season and will be a force next season again.
In the Minor Division Athletics had a convincing win over Twins to advance to the final.
LL-Minor final between Mariners and Athletics was played in good spirit as it had been done all weekend. Athletics proved too strong taking the game 10-2
LL- Development final Athletics got of to a good start and never looked back. Final result Athletics 8 – Twins 1
And then, at 3:15pm the big one kicked off. The Twins gave Ben Howard the start on the hill, who’d had a solid tournament and had clearly earned the opportunity. However the Mariners came out firing and plated two in the first to put the Twins on the back foot. The Southern Mariners started Ryan Langworthy, who came into the game with an excellent tournament performance behind him. After a lead off HR from Twin, Jai Puaka-Greco in the first, both teams traded blows with further HR’s to Ted Clayton and Ryan Langworthy. However the balance slowly shifted favour and by the bottom of the 6th, the Twins lead by 1 and the Mariners were down to their final 3. Twins reliever, Spencer Wray got the first two batters of the inning before giving up a nerve wracking double to right field which had the whole park on the edge of their seats. However, the steely pitcher rallied to strike out the last hitter and earn the Twins the win.
Congratulations must be made to many people; the players, coaches, executive officers, umpires, scorers, canteen operators, grounds crew, parents, tournament organisers, volunteers, photographers, spectators and the entire Knox Baseball Club. As Baseball Victoria president, Myles Foreman says, “We’re really excited to send teams to Lismore, that’s great, but these things really are about the totality of the event, from the state league kids all the way down to the minors. It’s about everyone and that’s what makes it such a fantastic competition.”
Congratulations to the 2018 State Charter Championship team; the Northwest Twins!