If the younger members of the Maraenui Pumas premier men's softball team were having nightmares at the weekend Saints catcher Jacob Zurcher must have been the cause.
Fifteen-year-old Zurcher smashed three home home runs, two automatics and an in-park one, as his Saints under-18 side beat Maraenui Pumas 12-10 at Akina Park, Hastings on Saturday. The Hastings Boys' High School year 11 student then helped GSB Building Saints premiers keep their hopes of reaching the March 16 post-Christmas competition final alive with a two hits from three turns in an 8-4 drubbing of Pumas in the feature premier clash at Akina Park.
"It was a memorable day. We just have to beat Fast Pitch in our early game on the 16th and we will meet Pumas in the final," Zurcher explained referring to the fact there will be no premier play this weekend because of the final two days of the North Harbour-hosted World Series.
A leftie, Zurcher, has set the 2016 Junior Black Sox side as a goal and his Saints premier side player-coach Brian Dellow rates Zurcher's chances as high.
"Jacob is a natural. I give him a few pointers but he does a hell of a lot of work in his own time."
Third baseman Hoani Crawford and outfielder Fred Jackson also collected two hits from three turns at bat for Saints. One of Crawford's was a three bagger.
Dellow was proud of the manner his troops switched from the short game to the long one when appropriate against Pumas.
"Our boys are in a good frame of mind and next weekend will play our club's B team so keep the momentum going in the buildup to the 16th," Dellow said.
The Pumas batters collected just five hits off Saints Argentinian junior world champion hurler Pablo Masmu. Veteran Kevin Wildermoth scored Pumas first run on a fielder's choice in the second inning.
Saturday's other premier men's game at Akina Park saw Fast Pitch beat Napier Vikings 11-1 in five innings. The Herbert brothers, Mario and Kane, shared the pitching for Fast Pitch in the absence of regular hurler Jordan Waterhouse who was among the weekend's spectators at the World Series.
Nationally ranked middle distance runner Dean Stafford scored Vikings only run after getting on base with an automatic double and coming home on a wild pitch.
Hawke's Bay's top women's side Dodgers finished second in their Wellington intercity competition which ended on Saturday. Dodgers lost 13-3 to Te Aroha in their final after beating Johnsonville 4-1 in their semifinal.