Former Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby winger Ray Karauria struggles to comprehend his Dodgers premier men's softball coach Tom Makea's signals.
But Makea was prepared to cut Karauria a bit of slack with that aspect of his game on Saturday. Centre outfielder Karauria collected two hits from three turns and bat and hit the winning run in as Dodgers upset defending champions Saints 6-5 in their pre-Christmas semifinal at Akina Park, Hastings on Saturday.
"I was losing count of how many times I had to repeat the signals for Ray but when Joe [O'Leary] scored the winning run off Ray's blooper all was forgiven," Makea explained.
He was proud of the manner in which his team kept fighting back. Saints scored four turns in the top of the second and Dodgers replied with two.
Saints catcher Jacob Zurcher hit an automatic home run over the right outfield fence on diamond two in the third inning to give his side a 5-2 lead. Dodgers replied with three runs to tie the score at 5-all before Karauria got back in his coach's good books with his winning blooper in the bottom of the sixth.
Slightly ahead of Karauria on Makea's list of heroes was pitcher Jovaan Hanley. A week after playing as a pick-up player for Saints in the North Island Classic, Hanley, struck out 13 batters while conceding two hits.
Hanley's Saints counterpart Tamihana Hokianga collected five strikeouts and gave up four hits.
Top qualifiers Fast Pitch walloped fourth qualifiers Maraenui Pumas 8-1 in the other semifinal. Pitcher Ahitana Kuru smashed an error-assisted in-park home run which was one of 10 hits his side collected off Pumas pitcher Alex Fehr.
Outfielder Rongo Rapaea collected two hits from four turns at bat as did his former Junior Black Sox teammate and first baseman Mario Herbert, third baseman Josh Tipoki and short stop Stirling Bartlett and one of Bartlett's was a double.
"They hit the ball and we didn't ... we made errors and they didn't," was Pumas manager Vicky Julian's accurate summation of the game.