Argentinian pitcher Pablo Masmu was the hero as Saints upset defending champions Maraenui Pumas in the semifinals of Hawke's Bay's pre-Christmas premier men's softball competition on Saturday.
"That was Pablo's best performance since arriving in the Bay five weeks ago," GSB Building Saints coach Graham Scarfe said after his team's 3-1 win at Akina Park, Hastings.
Masmu, a member of the Argentina side which won the Junior World Series last month, struck out seven of the Pumas' batters he faced while conceding one hit and four walks. The Saints batters collected six hits off Pumas hurler Regan Manley.
Two of those were manufactured by second baseman Paul Roberts, while first baseman Brian Dellow, catcher Jovaan Hanley, centre outfielder Jesse Little and short stop Taniera Miratana also produced hits for Saints, who scored all three of their runs in the first inning. Little took three crucial catches on defence.
"We didn't hit the ball... we got enough runners on base but couldn't move them," Pumas manager Vicky Julian said.
She pointed out her side missed three of their regular nine starting players. However, this meant three of their Hawke's Bay age group reps were able to get more game time than expected.
Scarfe and his team are hoping the final, against Fast Pitch, can be played under lights this week rather than on Saturday as scheduled because six of his players are heading away for Christmas holidays. Fast Pitch coach Corey Tamati said while at least two of his players wouldn't be available for a night game because of shift work, his team is prepared to play whenever instructed by Hawke's Bay officials, who are likely to make a decision by tomorrow.
Third baseman Puhi Rapaea smashed a three-run homer as Fast Pitch walloped Napier Vikings 9-0 over seven innings in the other semifinal. Rapaea's brother and former Junior Black Sox outfielder Rongo Rapaea, finished the game with two runners batted in, as did second baseman Te Rangi Chadwick, back from injury