DESPITE leading 6-4 at the middle of the final innings, the mighty Shoalhaven Mariners u12s baseball team were swamped by a Cardinals Gold tidal wave 6-7 in the IJBL final on Sunday, March 9 at Fred Finch Park, thus ending their finals surge in their maiden IJBL season.
The Mariners began the final at a disadvantage.
As only eight players had satisfied the IJBL criteria of enough players qualifying regular round games, the Mariners had to take the field on the day with the ninth batter an automatic out.
It was a big ask of the Sub Mariners, but having beaten all odds to progress to the final they relished the chance.
The Mariners batted first.
The Cardinals showed they meant business, with Robert Coleman, who hit a double, the only one of our first four batters to not strike out.
Middle of the first, 0-0.
At the bottom of the first reliable opening pitcher Jayden Brain took to the mound.
He quickly struck out the first batter, showing Cardinals Gold the Mariners were here to play.
After a couple of walks and a base hit which scored a run, with an out at second on the same play, Jayden struck out the final batter.
End of the first, 0-1.
Andrew Pearson was the lead batter in the second innings and showed his experience at the plate, earning a walk for the team.
Jayden Brain was the next batter, and quickly swung a fantastic hit to centre field, bringing home base runner Andrew.
Score was 1-1.
Third baseman Ethan Scott-Branagan took a hit and was walked, then his brother Josh stepped up to the plate and was walked.
The pressure was relieved for the Cardinals Gold when the absent ninth Mariners batter was the first out of the innings.
Catcher Ethan Harpur took to the plate, and on a wild pitch Jayden was able to steal home.
2-1 to Mariners.
Stephen Pearson was next up to bat, and continued his good form to earn a walk for the team.
The Mariners second innings continued along full steam, with Robert Coleman bringing “Little E” home with a base hit.
3-1 to Mariners.
Lucas Scott-Branagan was walked, with twin Josh brought home on a force.
4-1 to Mariners.
Andrew then batted for the second time in the innings and was again walked, bringing brother Stephen home on the forced walk.
With five runs across the plate, the Mariners were leading 5-1.
Having walked the first Cardinals batter, some excellent fielding saw Jayden take a catch off the next batter, and with quick thinking throwing the ball to first Baseman Josh, putting the base runner out as well for a well executed double play.
With that, Jayden was finished pitching, and relief pitcher Robert Coleman closed out the innings with a strikeout.
Mariners 5-1 at end of the second.
The top of the third innings was not profitable for the Mariners and they were unable to improve on the scoreline.
Middle of the third Mariners were up 5-1.
Robert Coleman continued to pitch in the bottom of the third.
The Cardinals Gold were able to rally and were able to get three runs across the plate out of eight batters faced.
Score was Mariners up 5-4.
Stephen Pearson was the first batter in the top of the fourth, earning a walk after talking a hit but was unable to progress further around the bases.
Next batter Robert Coleman was caught, and in his efforts to avoid the tag, Stephen ran off the line and was called out technically.
Lucas Scott-Branagan was the next to the plate, and earned a walk, with a cheeky steal to third.
Andrew was next to bat, and before he earned a walk, Lucas was able to successfully steal home.
Mariners were up 6-4.
Jayden was then struck out by the Cardinals for the third out.
The mission now was for the Mariners to defend their 6-4 lead.
Between the Mariners and the grand final was one Cardinals at bat.
Robert took to the mound.
Batter one was struck out.
Batter two was base hit.
Having pitched his regulation 40 pitches, Robert was relieved by closer Lucas Scott-Branagan.
As much as the Mariners tried the Cardinals showed the form that saw them only lose three games during regular rounds, and they slowly and methodically gained on the Mariners.
The third batter brought a runner home with a base hit, another runner stole home, and the score was 6-6.
Lucas struck out the next batter, and only one out was required to force an extra innings.
Luck again swung the Cardinals’ way, and they scored a final run, overtaking the Mariners to reach the final score 6-7.
The Mariners, although defeated, were certainly not disgraced.
Jayden Brain was named MVP for the side by the opposition team.
All players are eager to return for the Mariners next season, with the majority of the team moving up to u14s.