Wellington's double triumph at Fastpitch champs

TONY SMITH
Last updated 06:32 14/02/2014

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Wellington's booming bats carried them to a doubleheader triumph on the first day of the National Fastpitch Championships in Christchurch yesterday.

Young shortstop Jerome Raemaki  clouted two automatic home runs and Joel Harris hit another in Wellington's 4-0 opening round win over champions Canterbury.

The victory was a confidence booster for player-coach Gene Lutton's team, who backed up with a 5-0 shutout victory over hometown rivals Hutt Valley.

Wily Wellington veteran Terrence Hibbert kept the Canterbury batters guessing with eight strikeouts for five safe hits.

Wellington grabbed a two-run lead in the bottom of the fourth inning when Raemaki led off with his first home run.  Dan Tarapi drew a walk, Campbell Makea singled and catcher Aaron Stroman-Neemia also got a free pass to first pass.  Tarapi scampered home on Lewis Temarama's sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Raemaki homered again in the fifth and Harris hit his in the seventh. 

Hutt Valley imploded with four fielding errors against Wellington, who scored all five runs in the third inning when Harris, Lutton, Wayne Laulu, Raemaki and Tarapi plated.  Leadoff man Laulu had two hits and Te Wera Bishop batted 1.000 with two from two.

Hibbert and young reliever Josh Pettet combined for seven strikeouts.  Hutt Valley's sole hit was an infield single by Scott Cartwright.

Lutton would be well pleased with two shutout wins as Wellington bids to win their first NFC title since the inaugural tournament in Christchurch in 2009.

Auckland produced a powerful finish to beat Hutt Valley 9-3 with five runs in the seventh inning.  

They led 4-3 on the back of Black Sox pitcher Heinie Shannon's bases-loaded open-diamond opposite-field home run. Pinch hitter Kallan Compain and catcher Kevin Stockford both slugged two-RBI doubles for Auckland in the seventh.  Designated player Cory Timu was Hutt's best  batter with two hits.

Marlborough's Kurt Schollum underlined his pitching promise by hurling Southern Pride to a 1-0 win over North Harbour.  Schollum, a Black Sox training squad member,  struck out 12 Harbour hitters and gave up just two safe hits, including a double to Canterbury pick-up player Paul Barker.

Travis Bartorillo batted in Southern's winning run, scoring Jamie Robinson in the eighth-inning tiebreaker. 

But Southern Pride dropped their second game, losing 4-3 to Japan Universities. Harbour also ended up empty-handed with their second 0-1 defeat, to Counties Waikato, who scored their second 1-0 victory against Southern Pride.

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Two-time champions Auckland were the only unbeaten team in the women's competition after a 2-0 win over Canterbury and a 3-1 tiebreaker victory against Hutt Valley, who had earlier beaten Southern Pride 5-2.

Auckland led 1-0 but Hutt struck back later when American catcher Stefanie Trutanic doubled to right-centrefield and former White Sox star Cindy Potae slugged a triple to the same spot. But Jennifer Feret and Kyla Bromhead wrapped it up for Auckland in the top of the eighth which featured a sacrifice hit to Beth Stavert.

Canterbury had 5-0 wins over Wellington and Southern Pride with American pitcher Sam Parkes throwing two shut-outs, including a no-hitter against Southern.  She also had three triples with the bat in that game, although she was given out once for failing to touch first base.

Day One results:

Men:  Wellington 4 Canterbury 0, Auckland 9 Hutt Valley 3, Canterbury 6 Auckland 3, Wellington 5 Hutt Valley 0, Southern Pride 1 North Harbour 0, Counties Waikato 1 North Harbour 0, Japan Universities 4 Southern Pride 3, Counties Waikato 1 Southern Pride 0, Japan  Universities 7 North Harbour 1.

Women:  Canterbury 5 Wellington 0, Hutt Valley 5 Southern Pride 2, Auckland 2 Canterbury 0,  Wellington 9 Southern Pride 4, Auckland 3 Hutt Valley 1 (8 innings).

- Fairfax Media

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