• Thrilling Bay premier men's softball tussles

Thrilling Bay premier men's softball tussles

All four Hawke's Bay premier men's softball teams are ready for the New Zealand Classic to be played at Akina Park, Hastings this weekend.

They proved this with some outstanding ball at the same venue last weekend. Fast Pitch scored in the bottom of the seventh inning to pip Maraenui Pumas 7-6 and gain revenge for two previous losses to Pumas.

Mets also scored in the bottom of the seventh to beat Saints 7-6 and reverse the results from the previous two encounters between the two teams. Saints surprisingly started Mace Price on the pitching mound while Mets again had former Black Sox utility Jovaan Hanley on the hill until the fifth inning when he was replaced by Jordan Waterhouse.

A huge home run over the centre outfield fence on diamond one from former Junior Black Sox utility Jacob Zurcher with two runners on base gave Saints a 4-3 lead in the third inning.  Saints led 6-4 after the top of the sixth which saw Hoani Crawford smash a spectacular three bagger.

With the score 6-all and Saints unable to score in the top of the seventh they put Black Sox training squad member Adam Woon on the hill.Mets leadoff batter Kane Herbert bounced the ball over centre field fence for an automatic two-base hit and advanced to third on another hit from Horowai Puketapu. 

Curtis Huata, Mets top batter to date this season, was intentionally walked. With loaded bases Hanley hit through centre field to secure the victory. Hanley was Mets top batter in the match  with three walks and two safe hits. 

Puketapu, Huata and Waterhouse all picked up two safe hits. The Mets pitchers took 10 strikeouts.

For Saints Price took nine strikeouts, in six innings pitched. Zurcher got two safe hits and Daniel Green got on base four times with three walks and a fielder's choice. The Saints batters picked up eight walks, the same number as Mets – but three of Mets walks were intentional.

Fast Pitch centre outfielder Dallas Brown hit his first home run of the season. Their relief pitcher Nopera Tangaroa, a son of Black Sox pitching legend Chubb Tangaroa, again shone with the bat and drove in the winning run.

Fast Pitch coach Quinten Chadwick heaped kudos on Pumas contribution to the spectacle with the minimum nine players.

Mets hold top spot on the points table, Saints are second, Fast Pitch third and Pumas fourth.

This weekend's Classic will begin on Friday night and continue until the 3pm final on Sunday. The four Bay teams will be joined by defending champions Poneke-Kilbirnie, Porirua and Miramar.