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Season One is Done!

Mordialloc 6 defeated by Watsonia 7

MOR 0-0-0-0-0-6-0-0 10H
WAT 1-1-2-0-0-2-0-1 9H

On Saturday we took on last year's premiers Watsonia Saints in a knockout final. After losing to Watsonia twice throughout the season we were keen to chalk up a win, and we knew that if we played our best we could get over the line.

After a short rain delay to start the game we got the first opportunity to bat, and while Shaun got on base from a walk, we weren't able to move him around. Luke started on the mound for us and wasn't able to get into rhythm right away, with three walks in the first four at-bats loading the bases at 1-out. A fielder's choice on the next at-bat meant they scored first, and we got the third out on the next batter to minimise the damage.

The second inning started well with a line drive by Matt Verberne to left, however on the next at-bat JC lined straight to the third baseman, who was able to get the double play with the throw beating Matt back to first. The two sweetly-struck hits gave us some confidence that we'd be able to score a bit more freely than previous outings against their pitcher. A pop out to short ended our second inning.

Watsonia put another run on the board in the bottom of the second off the back of a couple of singles, a walk and stealing home on a passed ball.

Unfortunately our third inning was a 1-2-3 affair, which was then compounded by Watsonia putting up two more from a single and a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch.

The fourth inning went almost the same as the third for our boys, but this time with 3 strikeouts, and it was starting to look like we were falling away. This time though we managed to keep them off the scoreboard and the guys started to find their rhythm.

We threatened to score in the fifth with batters on second and third and with 2-out, but a strikeout snuffed out the flame. Watsonia responded by threatening to score with batters on second and third with 2-out, but a strikeout from Luke's pitching which had really started to baffle the Watsonia hitters meant that we were down 4-0 heading into the sixth inning.

With three outs remaining in the game, it was now or never for our boys, who hadn't ever lost hope or got down. Up stepped Paul Dunham, whose line drive out to right went through the fielders legs and through the cones, which meant he was now in scoring position. We lost an out from a strikeout and we now needed 4 runs from 2 outs. Lachie Mollica then came up and belted a fly ball to right, once again bouncing through the cones and with our first run on the board, blood was in the water.

The boys truly had a sniff and after Tahl Samuel popped a ball over the second baseman's head, Adam Ballinger smacked a ground ball to left field scoring Lachie. With a new pitcher on the mound we were filled with confidence. A walk loaded the bases, however with a foul-tip strikeout we were down to 1 out, but we still needed 2 more runs to tie the game.

Then there was Luke Thompson. On the first pitch of his at-bat he smashed a ball into the large centre field, clearing the bases and putting himself on second. Suddenly we were one run up and the boys were frothing.

Matt Verberne scored Luke by hitting a double to the right fielder and we were now up by two at the top of the sixth inning. A strikeout put an end to our brilliant six-run sixth inning.

It was all up to us from there, but Watsonia responded quickly - a hit by pitch, a double, a single (scoring 1) and another added from an error meant that scores were tied, and with another walk the bases were loaded and the Saints only needed to get their man on third to home - and with three outs on their side.

The pressure was on, but two strikeouts helped, and after an injured JC stretched to grab a pop fly we were all tied at the bottom of the sixth. From 4-0 down we'd managed to push the game into extras in the seventh.

Tensions had started to rise, however we tried to stay focused on us to put another run on the board. With a 1-out, towering pop fly that somehow managed to land safely, Paul Dunham found himself on first base and was able to steal second. Unfortunately with a strikeout and a groundout (and with a heavy collision between Lachie and the Saints' starting pitcher at first) we went to the bottom of the seventh needing to keep Watsonia off the board again.

Things were looking good for us (along with the weather which was finally feeling pleasant) as Watsonia went 1-2-3 with two strikeouts and a line-out to JC at second.

We weren't able to take the opportunity though, with two strikeouts putting all the pressure on. While Shaun was able to single to left, we hit a pop out and it meant that once again we needed to keep Watsonia off the board.

It all went awry for us in the bottom of the 8th, with their first batter reaching first on a dropped third strike, a walk, and an error loading the bases. This time we weren't able to keep them at bay, as they hit a ground ball to centre to walk it off.

We were really proud of how we played today - to come back in the way we did and to keep things going was really impressive. While we left 6 on base, Watsonia left a massive 14 on base which showed how well we played in those clutch situations.

It's hard to go past giving 3 votes to Luke Thompson, who threw 184 pitches for 5 earned runs and 12 strikeouts, and then hit the 3RBI double to put us in front for the first time. An incredible effort from a very humble bloke.

Matt Verberne and Paul both had multi-hit games, and the other runs were scored by Balls, Matt and Lachie. Hits came from Balls, Shaun, Eddie, Luke, MVB, Paul, Lachie and Tahl.

A special mention goes to Tony and Bailey Firman, Matt's parents and Riley for driving over an hour to support the team. Also to JC for continuing to play with quite sore ribs after being slid under at second and landing with his elbow into his chest while jumping to grab a throw.

It's been a fantastic first season, full of ups and downs and the players have done themselves proud by making it to finals and pushing the previous year's premiers to eight innings. Well done guys! Lets come back next year and go one (or two) better!