Rookie Team in U18 Final
- Published on Saturday, 25 February 2012 19:22
- Written by Alastair Bull
First-Year Club, West City Metro, Qualify for Under 18 Final
Until this season, West City Metro didn't have a baseball team. But with a new under-18 team formed mainly from softball players, the rookie team has qualified for the under-18 Baseball New Zealand National Youth Club Championship final game this Sunday at Lloyd Elsmore Park in Pakuranga.
West City Metro, whose team includes new Baltimore Orioles recruit Pita Rona, earned their final spot on Saturday by beating the more experienced Howick-Pakuranga baseball team 6-2 and will play the heavily favoured Bayside-Westhaven in Sunday's 2 pm final.
Metro's effort in the under-18 grade will break up the dominance on championship day of Howick and Bayside, whose teams will contest the finals of the under-15 and under-13 age grades.
West City Metro were behind 2-1 after three innings but jumped out ahead in the sixth with four runs. They added an insurance run in the seventh, which Howick could not peg back. Isaiah Leota homered for West City, while Rakim Proctor added two RBIs.
They will face a tough task in the final against Bayside, who beat them 12-1 in a dress rehearsal for the final. Both sides had four hits each, but Bayside proved the more effective at bringing runs in, especially with West City Metro committing five errors.
Bayside was already four runs ahead when a seven-run fourth inning enabled them to take control, and they added another in the fifth to win the game by mercy rule. Sam Clerk homered for Bayside, while Hamish Witters pitched five innings to claim the win. Bayside earned their final spot in the under 18 grade earlier in the day after beating Howick 6-2 in their first game on Saturday.
The teams were close for most of the game, with Howick taking a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth. Bayside levelled in the bottom of the fifth and then won with a four-run spree in the bottom of the sixth inning. Bayside outhit Howick 7-2 and also benefitted from seven Howick errors. Scott Drinkwater homered for Bayside, while Jack Malcolm pitched a complete seven-inning game to take the win.
Bayside Westhaven and Howick-Pakuranga will clash in the under-15 final after both teams maintained their unbeaten records at the 2012 nationals. Bayside were comfortable in their semifinal, while Howick-Pakuranga beat Central City 5-2.
Bayside Westhaven were error-prone in the field, committing seven errors to two, but blew North Shore City away with a 14-hit performance, eight of their batters registering base hits. Seven runs in the first two innings put Bayside in control, and a further three runs in the fifth inning and two in the sixth was more than enough to back up pitchers Reede Fowler, Jimmy Boyce, Zac Goldschmidt and Matthew Thomas.
Howick-Pakuranga earned their final place despite being outhit 8-5 by Central City. Three runs in the second inning put Howick in front, and despite Central pulling back two runs in the third, single runs in the fifth and sixth inning got Howick home. Elliot Johnstone was a top performer for Howick, hitting safely twice while pitching effectively for his club.
Bayside Westhaven caused a minor upset to reach the under 13 final when beating the previously undefeated Orewa 6-5 in their semifinal. Orewa got out to a 2-0 lead at the bottom of the second inning but Bayside took control of the game with four runs in the top of the fourth inning and two runs in the top of the fifth. The offensive-minded Orewa club rallied with three runs in the sixth and final inning but couldn't get the run they needed to force the game into an extra inning.
It was Orewa’s first National Youth Club Championship at any age grade, and the club earned rave reviews for building a core group of talented youth players in its first season.
Bayside will play traditional rivals Howick-Pakuranga in the final after the southeast Auckland club beat Central City 16-6 in their semifinal despite being outhit 10-7.
Howick blew the game apart in the fourth and fifth inning. Down by a run after three innings, they scored 13 runs in the next two innings, while Central could only reply with two. Fred Boot starred for Howick with three hits, including one three-bagger.
Finals day at Lloyd Elsmore Park in Pakuranga opens with the under-13s final at 10am. The under 15s play at 11am, and the under 18s begin at 2pm.