Tigers officially streaking, Lady Tigers continue dominance

Seconds coach Simon Ratcliffe and batboy Archie Hooper. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

By Sean Talbot

Channeling the sage wisdom of manager Lou Brown from Major League that “we won a game, if we win next time it’s called two in a row, and if we win again it’s called a winning streak”, then the Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers can officially be considered to be on a winning streak.

Coming off a great win on Tuesday against ladder leader and perennial rival Waverley (a 6-1 result in enemy territory), the Tigers carried the momentum of two consecutive wins to Cyril Molyneux Reserve to take on the Berwick Cougars who entered the game in third place on the Premier League Firsts ladder and walked out the victor, an 8-1 final score that reflected the dominance the Tigers showed on the day. Sending staff ace Jarrod Turner to the mound, the Tigers scored first in the 2nd inning after Staci Rogers got plunked, skipper Donavon Hendricks moved him to 2nd before Nick Rice laced a ball to left field to bring home Rogers.

The Tigers followed this up with a run in the 4th innings courtesy of a solo home run to Hendricks which would give Turner all the run support he would need as he continued his purple patch of form, continuing to show why he can be considered the leagues best pitcher as he repeatedly put up scoreless inning after scoreless inning and lowering what was already miserly ERA to miniscule 1.09.

The Tigers hitters exploded for six runs in the top of the 6th inning as they hit Berwick starter Craig Barnett out of the game and put the game well out of reach. Josh Hendricks led off with a hard hit single before Rogers launched a two-run bomb to left-centre, followed by doubles to Hendricks, Rice, Jack Ratcliffe and Peter Schroeders (the latter of which earned himself the nickname “Scarface” with a less than perfect slide into second base to beat the throw from Berwick’s centerfielder. Jordan Elliott followed the doubles barrage with a hard hit single to right field before getting caught diving back to first base to end the inning, but not before the scoreboard showed an 8-0 score to the Tigers who could sense a potential mercy-rule win on the cards. Turner returned to the mound, conceding the only run for the afternoon as Berwick’s hitters strung consecutive his together to get on the board, avoiding a shutout but still finding themselves down 8-1 and Turner well in control.

The score did not change the rest of the game as the Tigers kept putting runners on base but could not convert any further chances. Sean Meldrum took over pitching responsibilities in the 9th inning, needing just eight pitches to work a scoreless 9th and end the game.

Nick Rice was the pick of the hitters on the day for Upwey with three knocks and two RBI and was more than supported by multiple hits to Ratcliife and the Hendricks brothers, while Turner finished his day with 8 innings, 6 hits against and 10 K’s to his name. Now sporting a 5-5 record to sit back at .500, the Tigers find themselves sitting six-way tie for sixth place, sharing honors with Port Melbourne, Fitzroy, Sandringham, Moorabbin and Blackburn all of which excluding Moorabbin have recorded wins against the Tigers this season. Upwey return to Kings Park this weekend to host Sunshine who now find themselves in 3rd place after Berwick’s loss.

Upwey’s 2nds were not able to continue their winning ways, falling to Berwick 7-3 in a game they surely would prefer to learn from then forget and move on from as they found themselves playing catch up call day as the Cougars jumped them for multiples in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th innings and refused to let the Tigers work themselves back into the game. Starting strong for Upwey was teenager Ryder Wilson, who made quick work of the Berwick hitters before running into control issues and seeing a litany of Berwick hitters reach base in the 2nd innings as they took full advantage of the right handers inability to work ahead and bring his day to a quicker end than coach Simon Ratcliffe would’ve preferred.

It was not all doom and gloom for the Tigers however, as they put the pressure right back on Berwick in the 3rd inning and snatched a 3-2 lead after Joshua Christie-Dossiter walked, Ethan Jenkins singled and Michael Oxworth laid down a sacrifice bunt to put runners on 2nd and 3rd with none out. Manning Davison followed up with a booming 2-run triple before being scored by a Josh Yung groundball.

From here it was all uphill as Berwick jumped reliever Tristan Mealy who issued six free passes, allowing four runs to cross the plate and see the game run away from the Tigers. Josh Yung took the ball in the 4th and managed to keep it close, however it was a matter of time for the result before time and game was called and a loss hung on the Tigers. Davison was the pick of the Tigers who could only manage four total hits for the day. Not all is lost however, as the Tigers remain at the top of the Premier League Reserves ladder and look to bounce back against cellar-dwellers Sunshine next week on home turf.

Sporting a squad bolstered by the addition of some veterans from the 4ths due to their walkover, the Tigers 3rds scored early and often against the visiting Cougars, taking full advantage of their extra depth, running away with an easy 10-1 win against a Berwick team which has seen itself on the receiving end of some rather one-sided results so far this season. In a game featuring various stand-out individual efforts, the Tigers utilized their strong mix of youth enthusiasm and veteran instincts to keep Berwick in the field for long stretches and ensuring the result wasn’t in doubt from the 2nd inning onwards. To their credit, Berwick made sure that Upwey continued to earn their runs, however they were more than up to the task and put Berwick to the sword as they flexed their offensive muscle. The win sees the Tigers improve to 5-2-1 on the season just outside the top 4 as they look ahead to a road trip to Sunshine next week to take on an Eagles team that desperately needs a win as it looks to avoid falling into last place on the ladder.

As mentioned, the Tigers 4ths were handed a walkover by Berwick on Friday afternoon and did play, taking the automatic 9-0 score to post their 8th consecutive win of the season as they also travel to Sunshine, looking to improve to 9-0 against a team that can challenge any team on their day.

Travelling to Malcolm Blair Reserve in Greensborough to take on Doncaster Gold at their home away from home, the Metro League East 5ths took full advantage of the friendly confines of the ballpark as they proceeded to belt the Gold Dragons from pillar to post and leave with a dominant 21-2 win. The Gold Dragons were never really in the contest, as the Tigers put the game right out of contention right from the get-go as they inflicted maximum impact against a Doncaster team that surely would’ve been praying to forget this one as the Tigers continued to seemingly play with the difficulty set to Easiest. The win sees the Tigers improve to 4-4 and tied for 4th with Monash Uni as they look to continue their form this weekend against Melbourne.

Out at Pakenham on Sunday, the Metro League South 6ths made sure it was well worth the trip down the Princes Hwy as they took home a comfortable win against the Pumas, running out eventual winners 13-5. The win sees the team continue to develop and grow as they begin making a push towards the top of the ladder, improving to 4-4 to sit at .500 for the first time this season and sit clear in 4th place. The Tigers will have their work cut out for this this weekend as they take on 3rd placed Blackburn who will certainly provide some stiff competition and make the Tigers earn the points.

Down at Sandringham it was business as usual for the first-placed Lady Tigers as they continue the dream start to their season, scoring at will to take the points in a game that more closely reflected a volleyball game than a baseball game. While the combined Sandringham/Berwick team put up double digit runs during the game, the Lady Tigers were never truly challenged, jumping to a lead in the top of the 1st inning and putting pressure on their opponents all day as they continued scoring in all innings, avoiding falling into an autopilot lull that some teams can in a blowout. It truly has been a remarkable start for a team who snuck into the finals last season after a walk-off win in their final regular season game to now be the ladder leader and brushing aside every team in front of them. Chelsea Mosbey kept rolling with her dominant season, giving the Upwey hitters all the chances they would need while continuing to apply the brakes to the Sandringham/Berwick offense. The win, as mentioned, sees the Lady Tigers sit at a perfect 8-0 at the top of the Women’s Metro South ladders whilst looking ahead to next weekend as they host local rivals Waverley in what will surely be a game of the round matchup.