March 1, 1997
Springvale 7 defeated Newport 2
In the first final of the 1996-7 season, Springvale were at the Ballpark to meet Newport. Springvale had outclassed Newport 12-2 in their first encounter of the season, but Newport had struck back only weeks before the final, with Newport’s Travis Brooker keeping Springvale to only eight hits, while Robert Hogan had given up twelve, Michael Crooks’ strong effort in relief not enough to turn the game.
But this was the final. It was Hogan and Brooker again. In the top of the first, Hogan’s performance was mixed. Newport’s 1st baseman David Land hit a triple to right-field, but Hogan struck out Mark Jowett and Land was stranded on 3rd . Springvale could not match Land’s power, but the number of hits in the first piled up the runs. Catcher Mark Cater had opened with a walk, and he was one of Springvale’s strongest runners, so stealing 2nd put him in a scoring position. Darren Otter could not advance Cater, with a pop-up to the infield. Michael Firth also hit to the infield, but it was a safe hit to shortstop, mirrored by Robert Hogan, batting in the four slot, the two infield hits scoring Springvale’s first run. 1st baseman Bernard Dockery was walked, loading the bases, before Paul Kilner became the first Lion to hit out of the infield, scoring two. From four hits and two walks, Springvale had taken a 3-0 lead.
In the next inning, Newport scrambled a run. Hogan had struck out Andrew Harris but walked Jason Landthaler. Luke Simpson hit the ball the 3rd base, safely, and Landthaler, rounding 2nd, ran to 3rd on the throw over. When Dockery returned the ball from 1st to 3rd, his throw went wild and Landthaler was able to score, a run Springvale could not match in the bottom of the inning.
Springvale fielded more neatly in the third, and then piled on further runs. Firth and Hogan were walked at the head of the fourth, and Bernard Dockery compensated for his run-costing error, bunting safely and loading the bases. When Paul Kilner was hit by a pitched ball, the Newport run was negated. Jarrod Hough’s single scored another two. Brad McLean’s ground ball sent a fourth run for the inning over the plate, and Springvale had a tidy lead.
From here, the game was controlled by the pitchers, rather than the batters. Hogan was recording plenty of strike-outs, and the infield was sweeping up anything the batters managed to stroke. But Springvale could not score, either. Its only real chance came in the fifth, when from one down, Paul Kilner was on by an error, and Jarrod Hough’s second hit for the day was a double to left, sending Kilner to 3rd base. Two tame ground balls snuffed out that chance.
In the eighth, Newport was able to hit away more cleanly, but still their three single base hits only converted to one run, not enough considering the scoreline. When Hogan opened the ninth with two strike-outs, the win seemed close, but Newport stretched out the game with another two hits, before succumbing with a fly ball to Michael Crooks at right-field.
Springvale had scored in only the two innings, but they had scored more heavily. Hogan gave up nine hits to Brooker’s eight, but Springvale’s were clustered more effectively, and Brooker’s four walks and one HPB proved more costly, Hogan’s control greater. Jarrod Hough had three hits for the day, Mark Cater, Michael Firth, Robert Hogan and Bernard Dockery one each, and Paul Kilner’s one hit and one HPB earned us three RBIs.
The win set up a showdown with Hogan and Springvale’s nemesis, eventual premiers Essendon.
Mark Cater – Catcher
Darren Otter – Centre-field
Michael Firth – Shortstop
Robert Hogan – Pitcher
Bernard Dockery – 1st Base
Paul Kilner – 3rd Base
Jarrod Hough – Left-field
Brad McLean – 2nd Base
Michael Crooks – Right-field