It was always going to be a tough ask and for the Poneke-Kilbirnie men's softball team it was just that as they tried to defend their Classic crown at Hataitai Park yesterday.
Poneke-Kilbirnie lost to Auckland United 4-3 in the semifinal, but to even be in contention for the final was an achievement after they lost their opening two games.
Their run into that last game saw them beat Hutt Valley Dodgers 4-3 yesterday and then Porirua City United 6-0. They were also down 4-0 until the fourth inning when they scored through Daniel Tarapi and Jerome Raemaki. Raemaki, who ended the tournament with a share of the top batter award, along with Christchurch United's Gareth Cook, scored his second run of the game in the fifth. He was also left stranded on second base along with Tarapi on third and Jarrad Martin on first in the seventh inning.
"It was a long road for us," PK player Thomas Makea said. "We knew we just had to get back on the horse and play some good softball and we did."
Although disappointed with the final outcome, for Brad Rona there were positives.
One of a handful of Black Sox players added to the teams, Rona returned home to Auckland after not only performing well with the bat, but also showing, if needed, he is more than just a handy pitcher.
Yesterday, against Auckland United he came on with that side already having scored four runs. In the innings he pitched he gave up just one hit and took two strikeouts.
"The opportunity was there so I just grabbed it." And what about taking on that position at an international level? "I'm not sure, that is up to the coaches."
In the final it was Rona's national team-mate Tyron Bartorillo who showed the way with the bat. Bartorillo picked up two hits and scored as many runs to help Christchurch United to a 7-1 win over Auckland United.
Christchurch United showed the benefits of coming into the game fresh. They scored three runs in the first inning and while Auckland pulled one back in their first turn at bat they just couldn't put together the hits when they needed to.
Poneke-Kilbirnie was the top performing Wellington team at the tournament finishing third, Porirua City United wound up fourth, Hutt Valley Dodgers and Miramar fifth and Hutt Valley Marist ninth.
- © Fairfax NZ News