Fast Pitch player-coach Te Rangi Chadwick had a meltdown and Maraenui Pumas pounced to capture Hawke's Bay's premier men's softball competition's pre-Christmas title on Saturday.
During the second inning of his team's 4-1 loss to Pumas in the final at Akina Park, Hastings short stop Chadwick was upset a couple of calls from Manawau base umpire Rex Dyason went against his team. He told the plate umpire and of the country's most experienced officials, Dyason's brother Ray, he didn't want Rex on the diamond and during a conversation which included several expletives urged Ray to umpire the game himself.
Chadwick's youthful team trailed 1-0 at that stage. After that incident the Fast Pitch players heads dropped and by the time they recovered they were 3-0 down and it was too late.
At a time when Chadwick's team needed him to be composed he wasn't. Ray Dyason said afterwards he could have ejected Chadwick and would have had it not been a final.
"Yes that incident proved costly for Fast Pitch. But Te Rangi is still the season MVP to date in our eyes. He has done a top job with that young team," experienced Pumas third baseman Karaitiana Aranui said referring to the fact Fast Pitch qualified first for the semifinals and won the double life semifinal earlier in the day 2-1 against second qualifiers Flaxmere to secure their final berth.
"At the same time I'm rapt with our team. We qualified third and had to win three games today to win the title and we did that. This is the first time we have won this title since 2010," explained Aranui who along with short stop Kupa Isherwood collected two hits from three turns at bat in the final.
Pumas beat Saints 10-1 in their sudden death semifinal and recovered from a 7-2 deficit to beat Flaxmere 16-9 in their elimination semifinal.
"We were confident we could win all three games today. It was the first day we had our entire squad available this season. We were struggling for numbers earlier in the season and had to default one game," Aranui recalled.
He was thrilled with the contribution from the entire squad but in particular first baseman Raymond Ross who returned to the team after an eight-season absence and lost 50kg during the past 12 months while getting fit for his return. Ross hit centre outfielder Tridan McClutchie home in the second inning with a drive to the centre outfield to open the scoring.
Aranui's brother, second baseman Manaaki Aranui, hit Isherwood home in the bottom of the third to give Pumas a 2-0 lead.
Captain and catcher Jason Kelleher scampered home on a wild pitch from Fast Pitch hurler Ihaka Tangaroa to extend the lead to 3-0. Fast Pitch, who had six under-18 players on their roster, had a glimmer of hope when Chadwick was hit home by right outfielder Corban Kireka in the fifth inning.
That hope decreased in the bottom of the fifth when Isherwood got on base with a double and was hit home by Karaitiana Aranui. Kahurangi Beamsley-Allan pitched the first five innings for Pumas and conceded six safe hits and three walks while collecting two strikeouts.
McClutchie pitched the final two innings and took three strikeouts while conceding one hit. Tangaroa pitched all six innings for Fast Pitch and leaked 10 hits and a walk while collecting three strikeouts.
Chadwick smashed a home run during his team's 2-1 win against Flaxmere. Experienced Flaxmere second baseman Luke Herrick also hit a homer in this match.
Pumas adapted to the wet weather better during their win against Flaxmere. Flaxmere's White Sox pitcher Rita Hokianga found the going tough during the later stages of her second consecutive match on the mound.
Herrick played his third game of the day for Flaxmere's social grade team which beat Fast Pitch Sliders 1-0 in their final courtesy of an automatic home run from Darryl Tamati jnr. A combined Maraenui Pumas-Taradale side pipped Saints 3-2 in the social men's plate final.