The finals in night baseball started last week at the Senate Road sports complex in the Minors competition with the first semi-final last Thursday and then the elimination final on the Friday. In the first semi-final Tigers played the Cats Blue team. Tigers, the top team all season, were favourites for this game as Cats Blue had only beaten them once in the regular season. Cats batted first against Tigers pitcher in Peter Turvey and batted through their line-up to take the early lead. After keeping Tigers scoreless in the bottom of the innings, Cats extended their score in the top of the second innings. The game then appeared to change with Tigers now the dominant team as they scored freely to bridge the gap. Going into the bottom of the fourth innings, Cats were leading by 4 runs with Tigers chasing the win. Tigers scored 2 but fell short leaving Cats Blue with the win 11 runs to 9 and Cats earning a berth in the grand final.
In the elimination final it was third-placed Cats White against fourth-placed Panthers. Struggling all year with a shortage of playing personnel, Panthers had to blood some of their juniors in Senior Baseball, so with youth on their side this was their big chance for an upset win.
However, Cats had their own goal to achieve, beaten in last year’s grand final they wanted another shot at the title. Panthers batted first but Cats Pitcher Rohan Voumard only allowed one batter on base with Rob Parker hitting safely to Short Stop. Panthers did not score but Cats White batted through their line up in the bottom of the innings to score 7 runs and take a strong lead early in the game.
Panthers only allowed Cats to score one more run in the second and third innings as they took their lead to 9 runs. Panthers did have runners reach Third Base in both the second and third innings but they could not score. Then in the top of the fourth innings Panthers batted through their line up to score 4 runs with Greg Fidge, Corey Stephenson, Jack Steff and Daren Steff all hitting safely and Cats pitcher allowing 2 walks to put runners on base. Panthers had bases loaded with only 1 out in the top of the fourth innings and the chance to score more runs but their senior players let them down.
Panthers then held Cats scoreless in the bottom of the fourth and had one more chance to chase their goal. Greg Fidge again hit safely however Voumard for Cats then struck out two and had the third batter ground out to give Cats the win 9 runs to 4 and another chance for Cats White in the finals.
Cats White now play Tigers in the preliminary final with the loser having to wait until next season and the winner gaining the berth into the grand final. Tigers should start favourite for this game acknowledging Cats White is the only team in the competition to have beaten Tigers twice this season. Tigers have scored heavily in several games this season and after being unusually quiet last week I would expect the likes of Peter Turvey, Jeremy Matthews, Shannon Edwards, Nathan Lynch and Anthony White who form the core of their batting line up to step up this week. If they can perform and also get the support from their juniors in Austin Waters, Will Johns, Adam Street and Kye McBride then they will be difficult to beat.
The Majors also play their preliminary final this week with Tigers against Panthers and the winner gaining that berth to the coveted grand final. Tigers would also have to start favourites for this game against a depleted Panthers line up. Panthers have struggled all season and have had to use some of their juniors in the Majors competition. Although under manned against senior players Panthers have unearthed some talented juniors in Jack Steff and Jackson Lenartowicz.
For Panthers to have any chance of winning their number one pitcher Tate Bradley has to throw one of the best games of the season and he must also have the support of his field. Panthers lack batting power excluding Tate Bradley and cannot match the batting line up of Tigers. Panthers need a low scoring game to give them any chance of causing an upset. The preliminary final for the U15 junior competition is also this week with Cats V Panthers with the winner going into the grand final against Tigers. All games will be played at Senate Road sports complex, with the U15 junior competition on Wednesday night, the Minors on Thursday night and the Majors on Friday night. All games start at 6pm.