Three wins on the final day has seen Parklands Christchurch United Devils win back-to-back titles at the NBS Labour Weekend Men's Fastpitch Open at Saxton Ballpark yesterday.
A tie-breaker loss against Albion on Sunday meant the defending champions Devils could not afford to drop another game as three teams vied for a spot in the grand final.
The Devils bounced back from their only defeat of the tournament to account for previously unbeaten Poneke Kilbirnie 1 in the first round of play yesterday. The Devils beat Poneke Kilbirnie's top team 2-1 before accounting for their stablemates, Poneke Kilbirnie 2, 9-2.
Albion, Poneke Kilbirnie 1 and the Devils finished round-robin play with the same 7-1 win-loss record, and as the tied-team formula was used to separate the top three teams, missed out on a finals berth.
In the big show, PCU opened their account at the top of the first innings to lead as Darren Davies picked up a walk, the first of four for Davies in the game. Steve McFarlane singled and both were batted in by Gareth Cook's sacrifice fly to left field.
In the second frame, Ihaka Davies doubled and advanced to third on a sacrifice fly, scoring with a base on balls. Cook batted in Davies with another sacrifice, while Michael Sands' left-field hit scored McFarlane and Daniel Milne to bring the score to 6-0.
Poneke Kilbirnie remained scoreless until the fourth at bat when Campbell Makea hit a home run over right field. Former Stoke Eagles player Jack Fletcher struck the ball well to double and later crossed for a run to bring the score to 6-2.
Cook finally hoisted the ball over the fence with a well-timed hit to score Milne in the sixth innings before PCU added a further two runs in their final turn at bat on the back of two fielding errors to bring the final score to a convincing 10-2 triumph.
Nelson had two teams representing home hopes in the tournament, the Stoke Eagles and the United Titans. Both teams played one game on the final day.
Stoke Eagles found the going tough against the classy Albion side when they were defeated 10-1 and outbatted 10-3. Derryn French and Damien Dolejs picked up outfield singles and designated player Luke Bowers doubled in the fifth innings. Albion pitcher Aidan Cocker claimed 10 strikeouts in the game.
Stoke Eagles finished fifth with a four-win, four-loss record, with performances by both experienced players and young talent boding well for an enterprising domestic season ahead.
The United Titans struggled at time against teams that could boast a number of Black Sox on their roster, but the experience will serve in the local and inter-city league. Halswell defeated the United Titans 13-0 in their final match.
Tournament organisers said it was a well-attended and smoothly run weekend. They paid tribute to the people who made the nine-team tournament possible, local sponsors, the team of scorers who provided live scoring over the internet, and the contingent of umpires.
When the accolades were handed out, PCU Devils pitcher Regan Manley picked up the MVP, along with the Top Pitcher award. Albion's Paul Stead was Top Batter.
The NBS Labour Weekend Men's Fastpitch Open tournament team was: Pitchers: Regan Manley, (PCU) Thomas Cameron (PK); Catcher: Cory Timu (PK); Infield: Matt Holmes (Albion) Steve McFarlane, Daniel Milne (PCU) Dante Matakatea (PK); Outfield, Thomas Makea, Campbell Makea (PK) Paul Barker (Papanui) Gareth Cook (PCU) Designated Player: Joel Harris (PK 2).
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