Waimea Eagles were the big winners after the latest round of Intercity softball on Saturday.
The Nelson-based side travelled over the hill and won both matches of their double header comfortably, 15-2 over Central and 11-1 over Saints Aces.
Both the Blenheim sides rebounded with hefty victories over the other Nelson side at A and P Park, United Mariners. Central picked up a 15-0 win in their second game, while Aces followed suit with a comprehensive 11-1 victory in the final match of the day.
Also helping the Eagles' cause was the fact unbeaten competition leaders Saints Rams were forced to default their two matches scheduled to be played in Nelson on Saturday, due to lack of numbers. Unfortunately the other Blenheim side due to travel over the Whangamoas, Wairau, have dropped out of the senior competition for the season, so there was no intercity action in Nelson at the weekend.
The matches at A and P Park got under way early with Central meeting Waimea, and the home side were up against it from the first inning. Helped by a triple to Gareth Oliver and some sloppy infielding, Eagles put seven runs across home plate as their batters took a liking to pitcher Mike Godsall.
Central replied with one run, to Nick Kelly off a Barry Anderson hit, in the bottom of the first but the damage was done.
Eagles added another three in the second, a Damien Dolejs hit bringing Hamish Atkinson and Tyler Power home.
Graeme De Boo scored Central's second in the bottom of the fourth, reducing the deficit to 10-2 but five more runs from the strong Eagles batting lineup in the top of the fifth, including a double to Nathan Delaney, put the match well beyond Central's reach. Gareth Oliver pitched consistently well for the visitors, the game ending after the fifth inning on the mercy rule.
Central's next match was against Mariners, who lacked the firepower of their fellow Nelson side, allowing Central to get bat to ball more easily and benefit from fielding errors. Kelly, Graham De Boo, Nick De Boo, Anderson and Godsall scored in their first turn at bat. Graham De Boo added another in the second as his son Nick controlled United's offence from the mound, and Central wrapped it up early with nine runs in the third, the whole lineup crossing home plate. Justyn Collins impressed with an inside the park home run.
Aces also had a mixed day. They met Eagles first up and were left ruing a sloppy second inning, when they conceded six runs, after being tied at 1-1 after the first. Lincoln McBride was on the mound for Waimea and had the measure of the Aces batters, although the home side was able to get an early run on the board, Jason Bird coming home after a sacrifice fly from Nathan Gill.
But that was where the good news ended, a home run to Daniel Mallabar highlighting the Waimea batting blitz as they put half a dozen runs on the board. They added one more in the third as the match levelled out but three runs at the top of the fifth, on the back of another Mallabar home run, ensured the game ended early.
Jordan Tulloch and Colin Hayes were the best of the Aces batters, but the home side were unable to string together enough hits to pose problems for their rivals. On the mound Rawiri Bird battled hard to control a solid Eagles roster.
In the day's final encounter, Aces squared off against Mariners and came away with a morale-boosting 11-1 win. Hayes did the pitching and also starred with the bat, slamming two automatic home runs.
A run to Waimea's Jason Chase in the first was a wake-up call for Aces, who replied with three runs of their own in their first turn at the plate. Jason Bird was first to score before Hayes found the middle of the bat to bring Gill home. They added another in their next inning, Braden Healy benefiting from a Bird double for a 4-1 lead.
But the real damage was done during their next turn at bat. A Tyler Aldridge double provided the batting highlight as he, Hayes, Nathan Peipi, Tulloch, Brayden Jennison and Bird rounded the bases, pushing Aces advantage out to 10-1.
A second home run to Hayes ended the match in the bottom of the fourth, the mercy rule being applied.
There will be no more intercity softball until the new year.
- The Marlborough Express