Blenheim battlefield for regional rivalry
The Waimea Eagles maintained their top ranking, but the spoils were shared between provincial neighbours as all the Nelson teams travelled to Blenheim on Saturday for a pitched battle in the Intercity senior men's softball league.
The Waimea Eagles were too good for the Central Bears, who were outbatted 10-5 by the Nelson-based visitors at A and P Park in Blenheim.
Central started by scoring two runs in the first innings but Waimea replied with four runs and dominated from then on.
In the fifth innings Waimea were able to prevent Central from scoring a single, even after the home side got all their runners on base.
The pitching of Brandon Peck left all three runners stranded on base.
Bears' player/coach Graham De Boo said the impressive pitching of Canadian import Peck proved the difference, with Central not able to get enough bat on ball to stay with their rivals.
In the other feature match Stoke Eagles were unable to knock the Marlborough-based Saints off their perch in second place, beaten 6-5 at A and P Park.
Eagles player/coach Derryn French said an inability to win the crucial moments of the game cost his young side in the fixture.
The Saints flew out of the blocks with three runs in their first turn at bat but the visitors stormed straight back at the bottom of the second to score four runs.
Tom Strawbridge started with an infield home run, before Vincent Whittington, Daniel Mallabar and French all contributed.
The Schollum brothers, Ryan and Kurt, were ultimately responsible for the key plays which got Saints in front near the end to get home.
The duo had inside knowledge of their opponents after playing with many of the Eagles in the Southern Pride representative team at the South Island Jefferies Cup and national fast-pitch championships.
Ryan whacked a brilliant in-the-park home run to right field then younger brother Kurt nailed it on the pitching mound, striking out six Eagles batters in a row to wrap up victory.
French said the young team, of which all bar two players were at an under-19 level, took some valuable lessons from the narrow defeat.
"We are always in the mix, but coming out on the wrong end of results," said French.
"We threw a couple of walks at crucial times and a couple of base running decisions cost us at vital times.
"Really it is those crucial moments where things are not being executed as we would expect."
In the other Intercity games, the United Titans of Nelson scored a 3-1 win over Wairau before the Blenheim side turned to beat their stablemates, the United Pirates, 8-0.
The Nelson Mail