Tigers winners at home in front of past legends

Tigers first baseman Josh Hendricks. Picture: ADAM BATTYE

By Sean Talbot

In front of a large crowd gathered at Kings Park to celebrate the Life Members and Past Players Day, the Upwey Ferntree Gully Tigers picked up an important win on the weekend against Sandringham that brought them one step closer to locking down a top four finish and another finals berth as they shoot for a three-peat.

Taking the ball for his charges and looking to lead by example as staff ace Jarrod Turner was rested, Tigers head coach Donavon Hendricks turned back the clock and delivered a truly vintage performance, arguably his best of the season, as he spun 7 shutout innings, scattering 7 hits whilst walking none and striking out 5.

Finding himself in multiple situations that threatened to get out of hand, Hendricks showed the visiting Royals why his Houdini escape act is still among the leagues best as he forced groundballs and double plays where he needed them, continually tight roping out of danger whilst frustrating the visiting side, who were themselves anchored by veteran starter Grant Irving. With both teams threatening to score through the first two innings and both pitchers finding a way out of it, the Tigers struck found a way to break through on the scoreboard in the bottom of the 3rd inning.

Pete Schroeders led off with a bunt, advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Wade McConnon, advanced to third on a groundball to the right side by Jordan Elliott and scored on a booming double off the bat of Josh Hendricks before Jack Ratcliffe flew out to end the frame. The Tigers had the lead they were searching for.

A 1-2-3 inning for both pitchers in the 4th and 5th innings each kept the game quickly moving along, however Sandringham began to threaten a two-out rally in the top of the 6th inning as Irving laced a double off his counterpart and Jack Wills singled to right field to put runners at the corners and give the Royals hope of levelling the score.

D Hendricks was more than up to the task as he induced a weak ground ball off the bat of Declan Ferguson that third baseman Randy Senn made quick work of to end the inning.

Upwey promptly answered back in the bottom half of the inning, with Elliott lacing a double to left field before Hendricks singled to centerfield to score Elliott and push the lead to 2-0 Upwey within 4 pitches.

The Tigers were unable to utilize the momentum to advance their runner any further however, as Jack Ratcliffe popped out to the pitcher attempting to lay down a bunt,.

Staci Rogers flew out to Matt Blackmore in centerfield and D Hendricks popped out to shortstop, but the damage was done, and the Tigers had doubled their lead. Sandringham took their licks in the top of the 7th inning, but D Hendricks put the finishing touches on his outing, working another 1-2-3 inning to end his day.

Going to their bench for a pinch hitter for D Hendricks, Harvey Chinn was called for an at-bat as he continues his rehab and looks to be 100% come finals.

A deep fly ball to Ferguson in right field did not find grass and the first out of the inning was in the books. Nick Rice laced a single to left field to give the Tigers a baserunner before Schroeders lined a double to left field that may have been knocked down slightly at third base, it rolled far enough to allow Rice to fly home like he was racing downhill the whole way to score Upwey’s third run of the game.

McConnon singled to centerfield to advance Schroeders to third and another team at-bat from Elliott saw the catcher hit a chopper to the right side that scored Schroeders but unfortunately saw McConnon forced out at second. J Hendricks launched a booming double to left field that had a launch angle suggesting it was headed for the moon to score Elliott and push the score to 5-0 before Ratcliffe grounded out to shortstop to end the frame.

Jarrod Turner was handed the ball in the 8th inning for a single inning of work, however the right hander wasn’t quite as sharp as Tiger fans have become accustomed. Harrison Wills lined a one-out single to left field before Sam Trend-Beacom was drilled with a pitch and Irving singled to left field to load the bases with one out, with Sandringham threatening to claw back into the game. Turner however had much different ideas as he showed why he and D Hendricks are 1A and 1B when it comes to the leagues best escape artists, striking out J Wills swinging before Ferguson popped out to McConnon at shortstop to end the threat and Turner’s day.

Wes de Jong took the ball and made quick work of the lower half of the Royals order in the ninth after a lead-off single to Matt Blackmore, getting Joshua Meyer to pop out to Elliott, striking out Ty Daniels before Lachlan Smith lifted a routine fly ball to centerfield where Wilson happily snatched it up.

The Hendricks brothers were both outstanding for Upwey on the day, with Donavon picking up the win with his 7 scoreless innings and Josh blasting two doubles and a single to compliment 3 RBI’s, with Schroeders (3 hits, 1 RBI) and Elliott (2 hits, 1 RBI) more than doing their bit as well.

The win improved Upwey’s record to 16-8-1 from 25 games to retain third place on the Premier League ladder as they are now 3.5 games clear of Sandringham in fifth place with four games remaining on the season.

The 2nds also took the field looking to add another win to their season record, however they had to fight for it well and truly, coming out eventual 10-6 winners against the visiting Royals.

In a game that featured a combined 10 (yes, 10) errors between both teams, the Tigers were able to capitalize more than their counterparts on the free baserunners they were given, scoring thrice in the first inning and six times in the third inning to do enough to take home the points.

Sean Meldrum took the start for Upwey and found that Sandringham came to play from the first pitch of the game, as Kynan Wilcox reached on an error by Jayden Christie-Dossetter before swiping second base, then advancing to third and eventually scoring on a throwing error by Ryder Wilson.

Upwey answered right back in the bottom half, as Ash Geary-Smith reached on an error by pitcher Cooper Drummond, Michael Oxworth singled and Flynn Morrison singled to load the bases with one out, however Manning Davison was struck out to give the Royals a chance at a double play to get out of the inning. It was not to be however, as an error by second baseman Wilcox advanced all runners one base to score Geary-Smith and Oxworth. Flynn Morrison was out at home attempting to score on a wild pitch before Will Richardson singled to score Christie-Dossetter and Upwey’s third run of the inning. Sandringham were turned away in turn in the 2nd and 3rd innings before Upwey blew the game wide open in the bottom half of the 3rd. Oxworth worked a leadoff walk, Morrison followed with a walk of his own before Davison belted a double to left field, scoring both Oxworth and Morrison before advancing to third base on an unnecessary throwing error on the relay that could be called questionable at best and boneheaded at worst. Christie-Dossetter singled to score Davison, Matt Cameron singled to put two runners on and Wilson doubled to left to score Christie-Dossetter to push the score to 7-1. Cameron and Wilson then both scored a circus error at home plate to push the score to 9-1 before the inning came to an end.

The Royals made things interesting in the fourth inning, combining four hits and an error to plate three runs and move the score to 9-4.

Upwey were held scoreless in the bottom half, unable to make anything of a leadoff single by Morrison before Josh Yung took the ball to start the fifth inning.

Sandringham again threatened, using two singles and a walk to load the bases, however Yung found his way out of danger to keep the score at 9-4.

Cameron led off the 5th inning with his second single of the day before Wilson bunted for a safe hit. Living fossil Mark Jones sacrificed both runners another base before Wilson scampered home to score Upwey’s 10th run after Cameron was called out at home on a play where was clearly safe. Yung found himself in trouble in the top of the 6th, however the two runs the Royals scored were not enough to bring them the win as time and game was called and Upwey’s 11th win was in the books.

Upwey (second, 11-5-1) now look to the last regular season game next weekend against storied rival Waverley (third, 9-6) as they look to end their season with a win streak and momentum coming into finals.

The 3rds travelled to Sandringham and unable to come home victors, on the wrong end of a 10-7 result after surrendering 6 runs to the hosts in the bottom half of the eventual last inning of the game. Dan Smith did his best with bat and ball to keep his side in the game, however the Tigers were unable to take advantage of nine Royals errors before committing three of their own in the last innings to see the hosts run away with the game.

Upwey scored runs in four of their five innings in positive signs for the Tigers, however eight walks and a hit better against to go with the three errors gave Sandringham more than enough free baserunners to take the points.

Upwey continue to sit in third place with a 9-5-2 record as they will take on fourth placed Waverley in a grudge match for the ages.

The 4ths were also on the road to Sandringham but fared much better, racking up 16 hits on the way to scoring 10 runs to run out eventual winners 10-3. Russell (not Richard) Ferguson and Dom McGrath shared pitching duties, with each throwing three innings to keep the hosts off balance and give their hitters plenty of chances to score runs. Eight of the 10 Upwey hitters recorded safe hits, with six of those picking up multiples.

Steve Williams (3 hits, 1 RBI) and Sean O’Halloran (3 hits, 2 RBI) were the pick of the Tiger hitters, with Paul Sadler, McGrath, Blake Halupecki and Riley Johnson each recording 2 hits. Upwey scored at least one run in every inning of the game, effectively running circles around their opposition on the way to their league leading 15th win of the season.

The first placed Tigers (15-1) will take on Waverley (third, 12-4-1) next weekend in a game both teams will be clamouring to win to secure bragging rights coming into finals.

Scores for the Regional Metro East 5ths and Regional Metro South 6ths were unavailable at time of writing.

The Lady Tigers hosted Sandringham/Berwick and proceeded to perform a hit job on the visitors, scoring the maximum seven runs in each of their three inning on their way to a massive 21-8 win. Jess “Dusty” McDonald took the start for Upwey and threw all three innings, only running into trouble in the last as she tired in the heat, surrendering seven runs on a combination of hits, errors and walks. Upwey took full advantage of 18 walks (with every hitter getting at least one) to go along with 10 hits to put the game well and truly beyond doubt.

The win improves the Lady Tigers to 15-1 on the season as they also take on Waverley (third, 10-5-1) next weekend.