GAME ONE: Dunmark Crushers (2-0) 7 def Sweet Amber Clippers (0-2) 5
Led by the hot hitting and gorgeous glove work of Ben Andrews, the Crushers defeated the Clippers 7-5 in Wednesday’s opener.
Named Highway Player of the Match, Andrews smacked a home run in the bottom of the second, and in the fourth the Henley & Grange import had a diving catch at first base and a RBI single through to left.
Crushers GM Michael Dunn said postgame his side’s offense is their biggest strength.
“We hit really deep and that was the whole point when we drafted our players,” Dunn said.
“Pitchers for the opposing teams don’t get a break, they get good hitter after good hitter.”
Early on both sides exchanged blows as Evan LeBlanc, who had two hits, buried a deep homer over left field to give the Clippers an early lead.
Andrews leveled in response, but with Tim Day on the mound the Clippers struggled to get strikeouts and when Todd McDonald hit a lead-off single in the fourth, the runs flowed, and the Crushers moved out to a 6-2 lead.
Matt Hutchings had an RBI and Josh Cakebread a sac fly, while pitcher Josh worked through a scoreless fourth and fifth.
After the major momentum change in the fourth, the Clippers loaded the bases in the top of the sixth and a pinch-hit two-run single by Phil Acosta had everyone on their toes in a 6-5 ballgame.
Due to the rule of no new innings after the one-hour-50 mark, Terrell Joyce had just four minutes on the mound to pitch out the Crushers to give his side a chance in the seventh.
Chasing a desperate third out, a wild throw to third allowed Matt Hutchings to score with two out, and that 7-5 scoreline was how it finished.
Dunn said the 2-0 Crushers are in a strong place with plenty of young players working hard to match the level of experienced imports and veterans.
“I think a few guys are trying to make the adjustment to the league, it’s a better league than playing club ball so it’s going to take a few guys some time to adjust to that higher standard of baseball,” he said.
“But I think once they get into the groove of things the competition will get better and better.”
GAME TWO: JSR PLUMBING WASPS (2-0) 3 def CARP (0-2) 2
Just five innings were played in two hours and an early home run to Tyrone Hambly set the tone for the undefeated Wasps.
Pitcher Tom Fitzgerald had them off to a strong start with two strikeouts and just one hit in two innings, but it was Hambly’s moon shot over left field which had the Wasps on the march to success.
Despite his hot hit, Hambly praised his side’s pitching stocks.
“I thought our pitching staff did a really good job,” Hambly said.
“Tom Fitzgerald came out of the barrier very well, credit to the Carp for sticking with us, everybody else who came out did really well.”
They added a pair of runs in the second as a costly throwing error by Carp shortstop, Curtis Mead, helped them capitalise on being in a scoring position.
In the bottom of the third the Carp fought back to load the bases and pitcher Matt Watkins was in an uphill battle.
The Wasps snagged the first out with a forced out at home before both teams came out with something on a sac fly to Blake Farr.
When Watkins walked in a second run his night was done, Andrew Chesterton secured the third out in a hurry to keep his side in control.
Wasps bats were the dominant force throughout much of the game with seven players combining for seven hits, the likes of Mitch Lightbody and Taylor Travess continuing their good SLBA form.
Pitcher Ryan Duncan had a hot finish with three strikeouts in two relief innings for the Carp who launched a late comeback on the back of two walks and a single to the recently-returned Phillies’ prospect, Curtis Mead.
Unfortunately for them the one-run deficit was as close as they came, and the Wasps are headed for a match-up with fellow undefeated side, Crushers, while the winless Clippers and Carp face-off.
Next week the SLBA kicks it in to high gear with a battle for the top of the table. The 2-0 Dunmark Crushers and 2-0 JSR Plumbing Wasps tilt for the top.
Meanwhile, the Sweet Amber Clippers and the Carp will fight for a first win in the battle of 0-2 teams.