By SALLY HEPPLESTON
HEATHMONT BASEBALL CLUB has made it three A Grade Premierships in a row after an impressive win over Research in the Melbourne Winter Baseball League A Grade grand final on Saturday.
Played at La Trobe University in perfect spring conditions in front of a large and vocal crowd, Heathmont were able to edge ahead of Research and win 7-2 in a high quality and entertaining game.
Star pitcher Leigh McKay started on the mound for Research and kept Heathmont scoreless in the first inning. Ryan Bean started the pitching duties for Heathmont and Tom Dicker hit a home run off him to put Research on the board early.
Heathmont levelled the scores in the second innings and they remained locked at 1-1 until the third innings.
John Edwards broke the game open with a two run home run in the fourth innings to put Heathmont up 3-1.
McKay came out of the game in the sixth inning and was replaced by Kyle Bedford.
Heathmont were then able to get a run on, scoring three runs in the sixth. Both pitchers were changed in the eighth inning with Adrian Berka coming on for Bedford and Josh Silvi replacing Bean for Heathmont.
Some errors in the field and some tough at bats for Research in the last few innings enabled Heathmont to secured the 7-2 win.
Heathmont coach Matt Gourlay was ecstatic after the match but praised Research, saying they made them fight hard for the win.
“They’re a fantastic team and probably our biggest rivals and they made us earn it,” he said.
“It was probably our two pitchers who were the difference today though.”
Disappointed Research coach Tom Dicker said while it was perfect weather with a big crowd, it was still disappointing to lose their third grand final out of the last four.
“When you drive in and see 500 cars in the car park, you know your sport is healthy,” he said.
“The fans certainly had a great day but it was disappointing. Heathmont deserved it though. Ryan and Josh threw well today and got the outs when they needed them. We’ve lost three out of the last four, but we’re getting closer,” he said.
Research pitcher Leigh McKay was deservedly named league MVP after the match.