2010 NSW State Little League Championships Report – Illawarra Little League
The Illawarra Little League (LL) team competed in NSW State LL Championships from 8-11th April at Samuel Marsden Reserve at Orchard Hills (Sydney).
The highest placed Country team would get a chance to compete in the National LL Championship on the Gold Coast from 5-8th June. Fielding a relatively young side the team didn't have overly high expectations going into the tournament.
Game 1: Against Hornsby Eagles, the defending State champions from 2009, they were a little too good in the opening game. They won 13-2 in 4 innings & just had way to much batting depth against our pitchers (Rower/Osborne/Riley), although Jarryd Prince & Murray Lugg did pickup 2 hits from their turns at bat to show they weren't overawed.
Game 2: This was an interesting match-up against Greater Western which was quite close throughout. If we won the game it would keep us in the top section of the draw & also give us 2 valuable points in helping determine the highest placed country team. Although a win would have come at a 'cost' of another game against fairly strong opposition, before a potential match up with one of the other country teams. Alas we went down. The game was 4-3 through the first 5 innings thanks largely to our pitchers Murray Lugg & Peter Faulks. Although we leaked 4 runs in the top of the 6th & couldn't get them back leaving the score at 8-3 to Greater Western.
This left us waiting for results the following morning, with games involving the other country teams. Largely hoping they'd lose & it would come down to a couple of knockout games against our country counterparts. Fortune favoured us - both Central Coast & Newcastle lost their respective games although Newcastle had a 9-1 lead against Cronulla North before succumbing 16-9 (a similar situation would repeat in a game a little later, see below).
Game 3: Up against Central Coast in a do or die game for both teams. Murray Lugg was outstanding on the mound getting through 3.2 innings, striking out 10 & only giving up the one run. In the mean time we had edged in front 2-1 on the back of a timely double though the cones by Lugg to bring in both runs. Jarrod Prince continued the good pitching work keeping Coasties to only one further run & in the mean time we'd put on a further 3 ourselves, leaving the result 5-2 without any need for us to bat the bottom of the 6th.
So Central Coast were now eliminated, although Newcastle won their consolation pool game against Greater West, setting up an Illawarra v Newcastle showdown the following day to determine the 'country' winner & who would get the trip to the Gold Coast.
Game 4: The two youngsters (Mitchell Davis & Daniel Bridges) from the previous year's winning Country U12 team were given the pitching duties to get us through. After the first two innings, saw the game locked up at 1-1 (In the 1st innings Newcastle had loaded up the bases, already having scored the lead off hitter & a sharply hit shot up the middle was well picked up by Bridges to put out the forced runner at 2nd & get out of the innings without any further damage. The Newcastle pitcher had been fairly dominant, although in the bottom of the 2nd, Bridges lead off with a safe hit to right field & advanced to 2nd on an error, with Peter Faulks putting one through the cones to bring him home). The 3rd innings saw Newcastle put the ball in play although a comedy of errors across the board & the odd safe hit saw the team cough up 12 unearned runs (even a change in pitcher didn't bring any change from the fielders who continued to have the ball go under/over/ fall out of their glove). When they finally got off the diamond the score read 13-1 in Newcastle's favour. A nice double play in the bottom of the 3rd by Newcastle, to take out the top of the order, really had things looking a little grim. Fortunately the fielders got things together in the top of the 4th retiring the batters in order. This effectively meant the Illawarra batters needed at least 4 runs, just to keep the game alive & prevent the mercy rule being invoked. In addition Newcastle's lead-off pitcher still had a few pitches left. Fortunately the bats came to life, forcing a change to the pitching and with 6 safe hits across the order (+ 2 walks) in the innings they put on 6 runs to keep the game going (score now 7-13). Newcastle weren't finished though & with a couple of hits of their own to put on another run in the 5th. At least the mercy was now out of the equation and some momentum had built from the earlier innings. Despite losing the lead off batter, the bats again sprang into action (helped by a couple of Newcastle errors and 3 walks) to put on a further 8 runs to take the lead for the first time in the game. So Newcastle now found themselves in the position of needing to score to force Illawarra to bat again. With Bridges throwing plenty of strikes, forcing all the batters to swing. The fielders did the job on the first batter, although an error let the next batter on with the top of the order coming up. Although the infield then pulled off a 6-4-3 game ending double play, to book themselves a trip to the Gold Coast. Final score 15-14 to Illawarra. Who would've thought, half way through the game, that Illawarra wouldn't have needed to bat the bottom of 6th ?
Peter Faulks & Murray Lugg both had 3 hits from 4 bats, with the whole order getting a hit during the game. Both pitchers did an excellent job, only giving up 2 walks through the 6 innings.
Game 5: Consolation Pool Final v Ryde Falcons. After the euphoria around the previous days comeback win & an early start, the kids were pretty flat for this one. The coaching staff decided to give extra game time to the lower end of the team & share some of the pitching around. The Ryde team took this in the right spirit but had too much firepower with the bats launching 3 home runs (including one grand slam) to finish the game in 4 innings.
So after 4 days of games, we won the ones that counted (from a country perspective), learnt a lesson about not giving up & all involved in the team are looking forward to the opportunity to experience the National Little League tournament on the Gold Coast in June.
Team: Daniel Bridges, Justine Briggs, Jayden Clark, Mitchell Davis, Peter Faulks, Jackson George, Murray Lugg, Jayden Martin, Alex Osborne, Jarryd Prince, Ben Rada, Connor Riley, Dylan Rower.
2010 Australian Little League Report - Illawarra
From the 5-8th June our Illawarra team competed in the Australian Little League tournament played at Surfers Paradise Baseball Club on the Gold Coast. After our success in the NSW State Little League tournament we were now up against the best 12 Little League teams from around Australia.
Given it was our first opportunity at this level, we went in with realistic expectations given our 'young' outfit - our aim was a top 8 finish (anything higher a bonus).
After 6 games we came in 8th, although along the way proved to everyone that a top 6 placing wasn't too far away. The team conducted themselves very well & gained many favourable comments about our play, behaviour & appearance. So we certainly left the Gold Coast with our heads held high & many good memories. In addition, with 7 of the players eligible & eager for another opportunity next year + the coaching staff keen implement some plans to further improve our position in future years.
A summary of the games:-
Game 1: A 11-10 win against WA Country after being 2 runs down going into the final innings. With two out and bases loaded Peter Faulks put one into the left field corner to score 3 for us to snatch a win.
Game 2: A little outclassed against the eventual champions (Adelaide), although giving them 9 unearned runs in the 1st innings didn't help our cause. Peter Faulks put one over the centre field fence for a grand slam in the 3rd innings to give them a slight scare.
Game 3: With a top 8 spot on the line, we put a good game together to comfortably get up against Canberra 10-0 in 4 innings. Murray Lugg & Jarrod Prince pitching well.
Game 4: Up against last years champions (Waverley) for a spot in the semi finals, we made them work hard for the whole 6 innings before eventually going down 1-10
Game 5: Against the team we were sharing our accommodation with, so some extra bragging rights on the line. We lost this one 7-12 after leading early. We certainly had opportunities in this game with a number of runners left on base. Credit to Mt Gambier who made all their outs during the game & unfortunately we made a few errors that cost us dearly. A good learning exercise for all.
Game 6: Against some strong pitching we didn't really get going with the bat (15 strike outs in 6 innings). Jackson George with 2 hits for the game & some aggressive base running did his best to get us a run. We certainly did an excellent job in defence to hold Perth to 4 runs through 6 innings. Joel & Murray pitched well & they gained good support in the field. In the end lost this one 0-4.
Daniel Ristic was covering the tournament on behalf of BaseballNSW, see below for his daily reports.