Tigers draw first blood

MINORS: Cats White's James Ellis-Nunn, left, and Dale Haywood, with Panthers' Jordan Gale and Riley Twigden are pictured before their first game of the season.
MINORS: Cats White's James Ellis-Nunn, left, and Dale Haywood, with Panthers' Jordan Gale and Riley Twigden are pictured before their first game of the season.

Perfect weather greeted players and spectators alike for the opening round of Port Pirie Night Baseball.

Baseballers have enjoyed the move back to Memorial Oval and found that the facilities are fantastic, and the high standard of baseball games helped break in the new playing surface.

All games were decided by less than two runs, with two games decided with the last hit of the game.

The Majors game saw the grand final rematch between Tigers and Cats.

Cats would have loved to get one back on Tigers, as they were only able to draw with Tigers twice in the last season.

Tigers threw the ball to Jordan Fuller for the start of the defence for Tigers.

After Fuller plugged the first batter, Adam Bowering, and allowed Mark Stephens to hit safely, Cats were unable to score.

The veteran Scott Smith was on the bump to get the defence under way for Cats.

Tigers also threatened in the box, with Jake Brooks and Paul Galpin both reaching safely from safe hits. A swift double play through Codey Simms soon drummed out any scoring opportunity that Tigers had. The second inning saw the start of the pitcher duel between Fuller and Smith.

Both pitchers were on top with either side struggling to find baserunners.

The score was nil all going into the fourth inning.

Tigers were able to draw first blood in a tight game.

Cats started the inning well by turning another double play through Simms, but two walks issued from Smith proved costly with Nathan Lynch able to find a safe hit to score Fuller.

That threw Cats into action with them countering with two of their runs in the top of the fifth.

A double base hit to Smith, and subsequent hits too Ashley Brook, and a huge triple to catcher Adam Bowering saw Cats score two and take the lead.

Cats pulled the hook on Smith and replaced him with Ashley Brook to immediate success. Apart from a leadoff walk, Brook retired the side to keep Cats one run out in front.

The sixth inning saw Cats build on their lead, with Stephens picking a walk and using his base running skills, managed to score off of an attempted steal from Scott Wardle.

Tigers were able to peg one run back in the bottom of the sixth with a couple of uncharacteristic walks dealt by Brook seen runners sitting in scoring positions.

Subsequent hits to Nathan Lynch, and Jarrad White saw Tigers able to score one to tie up the game leading into the final inning.

 The seventh inning started well for Cats with young gun Dale Heywood double on a tower of a hit to left field, putting the go-ahead run on second.

An error saw Heywood score and put the Cat side up with one inning to play. Tigers were down to three outs to win, lose or draw.

Jaikob Mathews Lead the seventh off with a safe hit, and with a ground out, Tigers found themselves with the tying run at third base.

With two outs the game could have gone either way.

The heart of the batting order was up for Tigers, and Brook was pitching well for Cats

A ball in the dirt saw Mathews able to tie up the game, and in the same at-bat Fuller was able to pierce the infield and found himself at first.

Tigers coach, Shannon Edwards was able to use the speed of fuller and steal him on the first pitch to Thornton and had the go-ahead run sitting in scoring position.

Thornton then hit a double to score Fuller and allow Tigers to steal the game from Cats. A great first up game for both teams.

The defence for both sides was sharp early, with Tigers and Cats both having two errors, but the pitching from both sides was the story.

Tigers relied on Jordan fuller to go the distance, and he picked up the win.

With a stat line of six hits, six strikeouts for two walks, it was an impressive opener.

Smith was his usual miserly self, only giving up three hits and allowing one run. Brook was good in relief giving up five hits and issuing three walks

Eight hits to Tigers and six to Cats kept the game tight and could be attributed to getting used to playing at night again.

A good hit out for both side.

Cats will be happy with the form of their two pitchers, and the defence looks solid with Simms and Caspers on the left side.

Tigers would have been impressed with the form of Fuller throwing nearly 100 pitches, in his first hit-out since the grand final last year.

As with Cats, Tigers defence was solid, and with a few notable outs, their defence will only get better.

The other game of the round was played between Panthers and Cats White. This game was also decided by the last hit of the game.

Cats White started with Rowan Voumard on the bump, and allowed Panthers to score in the first inning but only through a wild pitch.

Panthers started with Brad Joyce on the mound, and Cats White were able to counter with one run of their own, also on a wild pitch.

Panthers were unable to trouble the scorers in the second, but Cats White exploded and added four to their tally.

 Hits too Bignall, Bowering andHeywood saw Cats White build their lead to four.

The rejuvenated Panthers were not going to go down without a fight and managed to claw back two runs off the bats of Twigden, and Dobell.

Cats White improved on their lead through the next inning, scoring from a sacrifice fly from veteran Voumard. Leading into the fourth inning Cats White held a lead of three runs.

The bats then came alive for Panthers with hits to Grant, Dobell, Joyce and Highford seen Panthers take a one-run lead.

Panthers threw the ball to Highfold to close out the game, but it would be a big ask against the veterans in the Cats White line up.

Highfold started perfectly, getting a pop out and striking out another to have Panthers within one out of a victory.

Two subsequent walks had runners in scoring position, and when Jason Adams hit a single to centre field, both runners scored for Cats White to pick up a walk-off victory.

A great game of baseball with only a few errors made, with the youth of both clubs on show.

The other minors game seen Defending champions Tigers take on the dangerous Cats Blue side.

Another high-quality line up with a good showing of juniors on both sides.

Tigers started with rookie Adam Street on the bump.

He started well, getting out of the dig with no damage on the scoreboard.

Rob Anderson was given the task of containing the Tigers offence, and it didn’t all go to plan.

Four runs scored from the bats of Bullen, Alofa, Edwards, and Beyer had Tigers take a comfortable lead.

Cats Blue quickly counted with four of their own to tie the game up.

Four walks were enough to load the bases up and with a clutch hit from youngster Blair Paynter seen Cats right back in the game.

Tigers had seen enough of young pitcher Street and replaced him with a younger Cameron Brame. Brame Took care of the side and managed to keep the game level

Tigers could not grab the lead back form cats, but Cats Blue continued there scoring ways in the third. Walks again helped Cats Blue build their lead to three, but errors were not helping Tigers at all.

The bottom of the third did see Tigers tack on a run and reduce the lead to one through hits from Edwards, Beyer, and Alofa

The fourth saw Fasciano triple to right field and was subsequently scored on a bases-loaded walk. That seen Cats Blue extend their lead to two runs.

That would be the final score as Tigers were unable to score any runs in the final innings. It was another good game of baseball, where Cats played a patient game to take the win.

Rob Anderson was able to keep the Tigers batters off of base, and the defence of Cats blue helped as well. Tigers pitchers threw a total of ten walks which cost them the game in the end.

Both teams picked up eight hits which made for an entertaining game.

Next week’s games will see the major’s competition introduce the doubleheader.

In the early game, Panthers will have its first run for the year against Cats.

Panthers will be buoyed by an impressive offseason where they have to bolster their numbers, and hopefully that leads to impressive performances on the field.

Cats will be better for the run last week against, and they did look strong.

With more experience on the diamond for Panthers, I can see them being more competitive, but is it enough to beat Cats? I'm not too sure

The late game will see Tigers tackle Cats.

Tigers will have the luxury of picking a starting pitcher from the likes of Fuller, Brooks, Hackett, or Mathews

The shorter time game suit Cats as they jump out of the block well, so if Tigers can contain the early hitting, Tigers maybe within striking distance when the game is to be decided.

The minor fixtures will see Panthers take on Tigers and sister teams Cats white and Cats Blue fight it out.

The minors game will start at 6 pm Friday night, with the majors starting after the completion of the minors games, usually 8 pm.

- JEREMY MATHEWS