Federal fights for grand final berth

IN THE MOTION: Federal's Nash Lobley lines up the ball during Saturday's preliminary final clash with Tigers. Picture: MELANIE RILEY

A CLASSIC Division 1 baseball contest played out for the Mount Gambier and District preliminary final on Saturday between second-placed Tigers and third-placed Federal.

With two gun pitchers – Tigers’ Karl Ransom and Federal’s Alex Reppin – going hard at it and both teams chasing the coveted grand final berth, it was always going to be a tight affair.

In the end Federal prevailed in an entertaining clash at Blue Lake Sports Park.

Neither team could push runners across the plate in the first two digs and it was Tigers that broke the drought in the bottom of the third.

Jake England picked a base-on-ball and eventually scored on a passed ball.

Federal replied in the fourth when Matt Nicholls also picked a walk and was batted in by Craig Nicholls.

Alex Pearson hit safely to second base in the top of the fifth inning and scored when Alex Reppin’s high fly ball to first base was put down.

Tigers fired back in the bottom of the dig when Jake England picked his second walk and crossed home plate on Karl Ransom’s long drive to centre-field to tie the game up again.

Both pitchers were at the top of their game and fielding was tight, with no further runs scored until an extra inning.

Both pitchers were replaced on the hill in the ninth inning when they had pitched their allowed number for the game.

Both relievers, Tigers’ Joe Sims and Federal’s Clay Carpenter continued the theme of the game to not give up any runs in the ninth and the 10th innings.

However, the tide turned in the top of the 11th when the Demons got some bat on the ball.

Jordan Johnson hit deeply to left-field, standing up at second base, Nash Lobley clipped a nice ball out to right-field to bat Johnson in, Roy Hutchesson was on base on a fielder’s choice and Pearson picked a gap in the outfield that scored Lobley.

The hits kept coming, with Riley Rolph on board after hitting safely to right-field, followed by Reppin, who hit to centre-field and pushed both Hutchesson and Pearson across the plate to give Federal a four-run lead.

Matt Thompson mounted the charge for Tigers to pick back the lead when he hit safely to centre-field, then Kane Harrison was thrown a walk.

Carpenter struck out the next batters before England singled to load the bases.

Sims picked a walk which forced Thompson across the dish, but Carpenter shut down the charge, striking out the next batter to leave Federal worthy 6-3 winners in what was an enthralling game of baseball.

Federal had 14 safe hits for five runs batted in, two base-on-ball, one hit batter, five strikeouts and made no errors.

Tigers had seven safe hits for two runs batted in, eight base-on-ball, 12 strikeouts and made two errors.