Tigers rout Cougars, sweep season series

Upwey catcher Jordan Elliott,. Picture By: Adam Battye

By Sean Talbot

After managing to stick with the defending champions for the majority of their clash on Sunday 4 February against Upwey ace Jarrod Turner, a hapless Berwick outfit was absolutely belted by the Tigers at Kings Park on Tuesday night, as the visitors lone run in the top of the first inning served only as motivation for the home squad who scored multiple runs in three of five innings played, including eight in the eventual final inning of a game that ended with a bloated scoreline of 18-1.

With club coach Donavon Hendricks taking the ball for Upwey, Lachlan Madden greeted the home squad with a leadoff single in an 8-pitch at bat before advancing on Kurt Trotter’s one-out double, before Jesse Hunter grounded out to Randy Senn at second base, scoring the games first run and giving Berwick an early lead they would hope to hold onto. Hendricks stranded Trotter and Hunter at the corners by getting Cain Hillier to pop out in foul territory to end the frame and Upwey facing a 1-0 deficit as they prepared for their first chances offensively.

Liam Madden made the start for Berwick, however from there it was all Upwey as Ryder Wilson led off with a single, Wade McConnon was drilled by a pitch and Wilson advanced on Jordan Elliott’s fly ball to centerfield, before Josh Hendricks roped a ground rule double to deep left field to score Wilson and put Upwey on the board. D. Hendricks then singled to right field to score McConnon and give Upwey the lead 2-1 before Senn also doubled to score the Hendricks brothers and push the lead to 4-1. Andy Kane worked a two-out walk after battling in a seven pitch plate appearance, however Nick Rice was unable to extend the inning, grounding out to second base to leave Senn and Kane stranded.

D Hendricks ensured the pressure went right back on Berwick as he made short work of them in the second inning, needing only 13 pitches to sit Rhys Bumpstead, Elliott Anderson and David Mulhall in order and quickly putting the Cougars right back in the field. Li. Madden found himself back in trouble in the second inning as McConnon grounded sharply to left field, Elliott doubled to left to score McConnon from and J Hendricks singled to center to score Elliott and push the score to 6-1 in favor of the home side. D Hendricks continued to help his own cause, working a walk after J Hendricks showed off his speed by stealing a rare base and swiped second.

Joel Anson was then called in from the bullpen after Li. Madden had thrown 50 pitches in his 1 1/3 inning appearance, taking over in a game that was already ugly and threatened to get worse. Staci Rogers grounded into a 6-4 fielders’ choice that saw J Hendricks advance to third before scoring on an errant throw from Berwick catcher Trotter that allowed Josh to score on Staci Rogers’ successful stolen base attempt. Senn then picked up his second hit of the day, a single to centerfield that scored Rogers, and Kane followed this with another base hit to score Senn and pick up the Tigers’ fifth run of the inning. Nick Rice was again unfortunately unable to keep the inning going after flying out to left field, but not before the Tigers’ efforts pushed the score to 9-1 after two complete innings.

La. Madden collected his second single of the night with one out in the top of the 3rd, however D Hendricks would ensure he did no advance past go, collect $200 or move into scoring position, getting ground outs from Aidan Willis and Trotter to keep Berwick off the scoreboard and ensuring Upwey maintained all the momentum they created in the previous half inning. Berwick skipper John King then took the ball for the visitors and was solid in his first inning, giving up only a two-out single to Elliott before getting J Hendricks to fly out to end the frame and keep the score at 9-1.

J Hendricks managed to keep the pressure firmly only the Berwick hitters, getting Hunter to ground out to lead off the inning but surrendering a hit to Hillier and walk to Bumpstead, however he induced a weak fly ball from Anderson and struck out Mulhall looking to strand two and maintain the 9-1 scoreline. King looked to settle into his work but the Tigers had other ideas, as D Hendricks and Rogers each added to their hit totals to put runners at first and second before Senn and Kane each grounded into a fielders’ choice, with Kane’s bringing home J Hendricks to push the score to 10-1 in Upwey’s favor before Rice unfortunately became the 3rd out of the inning for the third time in four innings to strand Senn at second base.

Berwick started the fourth inning aggressively, as Hunter roped a base hit to Manning Davison in right field (himself a defensive replacement for Rice), however La. Madden hit a weak pop-up to Senn at second base to record the first out. Willis then hit a seeing eye single up the middle to put runners at first and second with one out, however J Hendricks struck out the power threat Trotter to record the second out. Assistance coach Stuart Chinn then paid Hendricks a visit on the mound, and a call to the bullpen was subsequently made as Wes de Jong looked to end the inning and escape the threat, doing so as he forced Hunter to hit a weak ground ball to Rogers at third.

From here, it was all Upwey as the wheels on the Berwick bus well and truly well off in the bottom of the fifth. Using the ballooning scoreline as a chance to give some bench players game time, Upwey sent Harvey Chinn to the plate for his first at bat of the season after tearing his ACL during the winter and being forced to watch the Tigers season from an assistant coaching role. The 2022/23 Tigers MVP didn’t look like he had missed a single step, working a six pitch walk before being replaced by pinch runner Ash Geary-Smith and being greeted by a joyous group of teammates as he left the field, signs that Upwey are somehow going to get even stronger down the stretch.

McConnon then singled up the middle before Elliott picked up his third hit of the game, this one a line drive to right field to load the bases with none out and putting Upwey in position to truly put Berwick to the sword and run away with the game. J Hendricks singled to left, scoring Geary-Smith and McConnon and advancing Elliott to third. de Jong then stepped to the plate in a rare hitting appearance after Upwey elected not to utilize a DH singled to left to score Elliott and push the score to 13-1 before Rogers hit a deep sacrifice to centerfield, scoring J Hendricks and scoring Upwey’s 14th run. Senn singled to left to move de Jong to second, followed by Kane who doubled to centerfield to score de Jong and move Senn to third. Davison put a ball in play to Hunter which forced an error with Senn scampering home to move the score to 16-1 and see Kane move up to third, still with only one out.

Geary-Smith, now batting for Chinn who led off the inning, put a ball in play and grounded out to second base, scoring Kane and advancing Davison to second. McConnon then reached on an error by Hunter, an ugly play which scored Davison from second whilst allowing McConnon to himself move into scoring position on the play, seeing the score move to 18-1 in the process. Continuing his brilliant offensive game, Elliott picked up his fourth hit, singling to right field to move McConnon to third, however Matt Cameron, pinch hitting for J Hendricks could not continue the cause, seeing six pitches but eventually flying out to shallow left field to end the inning and mercifully the game.

Elliott, J Hendricks and Senn were the pick of the Tiger hitters on the night, as Elliott recorded four hits and one RBI with Hendricks tallying three hits and four RBI and Senn three hits and three RBI. Eight out of 12 Upwey hitters recorded at least one base hit, with nine also posting at least one RBI in an effort that was a true team performance and one the Upwey coaching staff can only be ecstatic to see.

The crushing win sees Upwey sweep their season series with Berwick 3-0 and improve to 14-7 on the season proper as they turn their attention to Blackburn on the weekend in a game that sees Upwey looking to avenge their early season loss to the Burners. With Jack Ratcliffe set to return from America next week, Chinn now looking to ramp up his game time and the Tigers newest addition, super-utility Cain Bumpstead waiting on his clearance paperwork to go through before pulling on a Tiger jersey, Upwey appear to be in the drivers seat and getting hot right when they need to as they chase a third successive premiership.