Pirates pitcher Brendan Lower in action against the Eagles on Saturday. Picture: GREG TOTMANKiama Braves edged out Dapto Chiefs to claim their first top-grade Illawarra baseball minor premiership in the tightest finish to a season on record.
Braves’ final round 15-3 win over wooden-spooners Shoalhaven Mariners plus Dapto’ s 8-7 away loss to Wests Cardinals left Braves and Chiefs tied at the top of the ladder.
Braves clinched the minor premiership on countback by just .007 on run percentage, with Kiama to face Chiefs in Saturday’s major semi-final at Hector Harvey Reserve.
In a pulsating finish to the season, Chiefs scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning against reigning premiers Cardinals last Saturday to tie the game 7-7.
But Cards scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to deny Chiefs top spot – the second straight season Chiefs have missed out on the minor premiership after leading late in the season.
Meanwhile, Berkeley Eagles finished in third spot, despite a surprise 5-3 loss to Northern Pirates at Eagles Field on Saturday.
Pirates have had a disappointing season but proved too good. Starting pitcher Brendan Lower threw a complete game and gave up just nine hits, with eight strikeouts.
Alistair Michaelis went 3/4 for Pirates, while Liam Crilly also had three hits for Eagles.
Berkeley face Cardinals in Saturday’s elimination semi-final at Cringila Park.
The preliminary final on Saturday September 8 will be at North Dalton Park, with the best-of-three grand final to begin on Saturday, September 15, at Fred Finch Park.
Game two of the grand final series is September 16 with game three, if required, on September 22.
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