Waimea flying high as Stoke falters
Waimea Eagles remain at the top of the intercity softball championship table after beating club mates Stoke Eagles 8-3 on Saturday.
The two teams are both regulars at the top of competition tables, but Stoke has struggled so far this season, while Waimea has surged ahead and managed to hold on to the top spot week after week.
This was the first match-up this season between the two Eagles sides. In their last clashes, Waimea lost both the intercity and club finals to Stoke, so the team had something to prove on the weekend.
In Saturday's match at Saxton Ballpark, the first two innings were straight forward and scoreless, with Waimea's Brandon Peck taking four strikeouts.
In the top of the third, Waimea's Damien Dolejs came home after securing first with a drive through the infield, and Jack Rennie and Daniel Mallabar hitting him round.
Stoke replied in the fourth with a run to Luke Bowers who earned a walk and was then batted round.
The sixth innings was the next big innings with both teams bringing in two runs, including home plate being stolen by Stoke's Derryn French.
Waimea's Gareth Oliver said things turned for his team in the final innings.
"We were finally able to see what [French] was pitching," he said.
"We should have hit off him earlier than that, but it was only in the seventh that we finally started hitting. We stopped trying to position the ball and just starting hitting big."
Going into the top of the seventh with a 3-all scoreline, Waimea batters brought in five runs, including home runs to Sam Church and Oliver and a two-bagger to Nathan Delany. Stoke was unable to respond, with three up, three down.
"We didn't want to lose this one. We knew it was going to be close, and it was good to get a win over them for once," said Oliver. "With Kurt pitching for [Marlborough's] Saints, this will probably be the first season in a while that it won't be an all-Eagles final."
The United Pirates had a good bash at the Stoke team too, taking an early 5-0 lead. However, the Eagles batted themselves back into the game, winning in the seventh with a 10-8 scoreline.
United's other men's team, the Titans, were in Blenheim for a double-header and came home winless against the Central Bears and Saints.
Stoke Eagles women took two wins at Saxton, including a closely fought game against the United Warriors in the men's-women's grade, which they took out at 12-11 in the seventh innings.
In the women's grade, United's Black Hawks were rapt to take their first win of the season against the 2011-12 title holders Royals xtReme.
Senior results - men: Waimea Eagles 8 Stoke Eagles 3, Stoke Eagles 10 United Pirates 8, Central Bears (Marl) 16 United Titans 4, Saints (Marl) 7 Wairau (Marl) 0, Saints (Marl) 14 United Titans 3.
Men's-women's grade: Stoke Eagles women 12 United Warriors men 11, Waimea Sonix men 16 Royals xtReme women 0.
Women: Stoke Eagles 33 United R&B 10, United Black Hawks bt Royals xtReme.
Mens B: Waimea Sonix 15 United Vikings 0, Royals Maverix 13 Nelson College Gators 9.
The Nelson Mail