Former internationals smash home runs in Bay softball
Former Black Sox utility Jovaan Hanley smashed an automatic home run as his Mets side won the feature Hawke's Bay premier men's softball match on Saturday.
Hanley made up for his two previous strikeouts with his automatic over the centre outfield fence on diamond one at Akina Park, Hastings during the sixth inning of Mets 4-1 win over Fast Pitch. Seven of the Mets team had previously played for Fast Pitch which indicates the success of the Fast Pitch club's development programme.
The Mets club was formed this summer following the return of players who had lived in Wellington or travelled to play in the capital's intercity competition. Promising players from Gisborne Boys' High School, Taradale High School, Hastings Boys' High School , Napier Boys' High School and St John's College have been added to these players.
Fast Pitch remained in the game until the sixth inning. Their pitcher Triple Campbell performed far better than in the previous encounter between these two teams which his side lost 14-0.
Campbell took 10 strikeouts, eight of them in the first four innings. Mets used two pitchers.
Jordan Waterhouse took seven strikeouts during the first three innings and Hanley collected 11 during his four innings on the mound.
Centre outfielder Dallas Brown capitalised on two Mets defensive errors in the top of the third inning to score Fast Pitch's only run. Last summer's Junior Black Sox outfielder Elijah Mataira was Fast Pitch's top batter after getting on base twice.
United States born baseballer Kyle Groner, a St John's College third baseman who is playing softball because there is no baseball in the Bay, scored Mets first run in the fifth inning when he was hit home by utility Mike Thompson. NBHS student Xavier Clarke-Lloyd also scored for Mets in the fifth when he came home on an outfield fly from catcher Curtis Huata.
After Hanley's homer Waterhouse also scored in the sixth courtesy of a fielder's choice. Thompson was Mets top batter and reached base with three of his four turns.
Saturday's other match saw defending champions and competition leaders Saints beat Maraenui Pumas 5-1. Saints lead off batter and centre outfielder Jacob Zurcher smashed an automatic home run off the first pitch he faced from last summer's Junior Black Sox hurler Kahurangi Beamsley-Allan.
Zurcher's 2016 Junior Black Sox teammate, pitcher Adam Woon, also hit an automatic home run for Saints.
Saints coach Luke Woon said the game ended in the fourth inning as veteran umpire Terry Whittaker had had enough of verbal abuse from a spectator.
"It's a shame because this was another good game in what is the best premier competition in the Bay for many seasons. But both us and Pumas agreed it was the right call," coach Woon explained.
"We're disappointed because we want as much game time as we can get before the New Zealand Classic here at the end of the month. The boys have been training hard and we will aim to win that tournament," Woon added.
This Saturday's seventh round matches at Akina Park from 4pm will see Mets take on Pumas and Saints play Fast Pitch.