By Lance Jenkinson
The two staples of Sunshine Eagles’ success in the Baseball Victoria summer league division 1 this season have been pitching and defence.
The Eagles moved through to the grand final at the weekend on the back of pitching and defence.
“There’s a saying that baseball is a game of failure, if you bat a .300 average, you’re failing seven times out of 10,” Eagles coach Stuart Clayton said.
“So, if you can play good defence and have solid pitching, you’re a chance, and that’s the way we play the game.
“We hope that if we score two or three runs, that’s enough to get us the win.”
Sunshine was at its miserly best in a semi-final series sweep over Geelong Baycats.
The Eagles were desperate for payback after the Baycats thrashed them on this stage 12 months earlier.
Over 18 innings this time around, the Eagles coughed up one run to the Baycats batters.
The Eagles pitchers were sensational and the fielders backed them up throughout the series.
Sunshine took game one at the Melbourne Ballpark 2-0.
Riley Barr was instrumental, throwing eight innings without a blemish on the scoreboard.
The Eagles were playing from behind for most of game two before a late flurry gave them a come-from-behind 2-1 win.
Entering the ninth inning, Sunshine trailed by a run, but found a way to take the game and advance to the grand final.
“We got to the ninth inning and we were still 1-0 down and Jordan Young was our lead off and he hit a double,” Clayton said.
“Nikau [Pouaka-Grego] bunted him over to third base and they tried to get him out but couldn’t, so Nikau was safe at first.
“After an out, Rory Meddick came in and hit a ball to the first baseman that just bounced in front of him, he bobbled it and Jordan scored on that and Nikau moved to second.
“Then Alister Lovelock came up and hit a double to the outfield to score Nikau for the winning run.”
Lovelock, a home grown player, deserved the match-winning moment for Sunshine.
He had two hits for the day, but his defence at first base deserved a five-star rating.
Sunshine will square off with defending champions Blackburn Orioles in a three-game grand final series at Melbourne Ballpark with game one at 7pm tonight.
The Eagles were the minor premiers after the regular season and are ready to break through for their first top-flight premiership since 1987-88.