Ezi Finance Wanganui Braves held on to win against a determined Bluesox 3-2 in the main Premier Men's Manawatu softball match on Saturday.
Bluesox are arguably one of the better sides in the Manawatu Premier men's competition.
Their pitcher Bryan Taiaroa most certainly one of Manawatu's top chuckers. He struck out nine Braves batters on Saturday.
Braves pitcher Brad Worsley had another top game striking out 15 Bluesox batters in the 7 innings game and also hit the team's first automatic home run of the season on the No 1 diamond.
Braves won the toss and elected to field first. Worsley struck out the first two batters and 3rd baseman Richie Smith took the third out with a nice play to 1st base.
Braves were also held out at their first turn at bat with Bluesox pitcher Taiaroa striking out Braves first three batters.
Bluesox scored their first run of the game at their next turn at bat when Worsley walked lead off batter Jason Taiaroa. Taiaroa made second and third bases on pass balls, then cleverly stole home when Braves catcher Paddy Steele failed to check the runner on 3rd before throwing back to Worsley. Worsley attempted to pick Taiaroa off at home but he was too quick.
Worsley struck out the next three batters to send Braves back into bat, where Worsley responded in dramatic fashion with an automatic home run to level the scores after two innings.
The match remained a tight affair until the bottom of the 5th when lead off batter Carl Priddle was walked. Veteran Peter Flood stepped up to the plate and placed a nice sacrificial bunt down first base line to advance speedster Priddle to 3rd base.
With two out and Braves batter Toby Rison with 2 strikes against him, and Bluesox only needing an out to keep the game level, pitcher Taiaroa threw a wild pitch that their catcher could not hold, scoring Priddle, and Rison sprinting to make first base safely on the error.
Rison stole to second base and was batted in by pinch hitter Kajah Hunapo, who hit to right field to make the score 3-1.
The wheels nearly fell off in the tense final inning when te Braves defense was put under pressure.
Bluesox Sam Selby-Law made second base when he hit hard to Braves pitcher Worsley who threw a wild throw past first base.
Selby-Law made home from a hit to center field by Jason Taiaroa, who made third base when Braves center fielder Priddle attempted a throw home to catch Selby-Law. The throw was intercepted by Worsley who attempted to pic off Taiaroa who was sliding into second base.
The throw went into the dirt and could not be held, advancing Taiaroa to third.
With one out and a tie runner on third, Worsley struck out the next batter and redeemed himself when the next batter hit hard to the pitcher, who made the critical out to first base to seal the victory 3-2.
Meanwhile, the Castlecliff Club Mustangs beat Feilding Top Guns by a solitary point on Saturday in the Manawatu Senior Men's Reserve grade.
Mustangs first turn at bat put a 6-nil break on the Top Guns with Duane Paranihi, Josh and Ben hollis, Jefferson Yacap, Ian Fisher and Matty Ranga all scoring.
The Top Guns slowly got back in the game with runs comming in the second, third and fourth innings to close the score to 6-5 before Yacap hit a big homerun to put Mustangs up by two in the fifth.
In the sixth innings the Hollis brothers put back-to-back hits together scoring two runs. Joshua Hollis hit safely to outfield to put him self on second base and then Ben hit a three base shot to score Josh. Jake then hit safely to score Ben and put Mustangs ahead 9-6.
Top Guns scored three runs at their turn at bat to level the score.
In their last turn at bat Ben Hollis hit safely to reach second base, while Yacap smashed the ball to right field to score Hollis and win the game.
"Sloppy fielding throughout the game helped Top Guns to score six runs on errors, something we have to work on," Mustangs coach Ron Hollis said.
The Castlecliff Club Mustangs Black had a nail bitter against Dodgers.
The score changed several times before Dodgers came away with a 6-5 win.
Tyrone Pirere hit an automatic home run for Mustangs, while Bailey Kawara pitched well for the young black side. Ariki Teki had a solid game catching, while Jefferson Yacap took some brilliant outs at second base.