THE BATTLE BEGINS
Tomorrow South Australia and Victoria begin the battle for the 2009/2010 Dominos Claxton Shield title, with a nine-inning game at Latrobe University from 7.35pm.
The likely starters on the mound will be Paul Mildren for SA and Victoria’s Adam Blackley.
Starting pitching, defence and timely hitting will be key components of winning the three-game grand final series, with both SA and Victoria evenly balanced.
South Australia has plenty of depth in pitching, while Victoria’s quality throwers are second to none in the league.
Both teams are blessed with power hitters and consistent on base percentages, while on defense SA has an edge.
This season South Australian and Victoria have been almost inseparable, with the rain-affected two-game series in Geelong tied, and the four-game series at Norwood Oval also split.
Coming off an opening three game sweep of Queensland at home in November, SA travelled to Victoria and started on the right foot, winning game one 6-4, after trailing 2-0 in the first inning.
Highlights for South Australia were Matthew Smith’s two-run home run, and extra base hits from Jeremy Cresswell (triple) and Dan Wilson (double). Pitcher Paul Mildren collected the win.
Game two saw Victoria come back for a 3-2 victory, behind Casey Jones’ pitching and early runs, from RBI hits to Andrew Russell and Matthew Lawman. The third game was washed out with SA leading 2-0.
For the return series in Adelaide from January 14, a make-up game was scheduled, which SA won 13-6 behind the sensational batting of catcher Michael Collins, who collected six hits from six plate appearance, including three home runs, and batted in eight runs.
Paul Mildren pitched a complete game victory in the second game, with SA winning 5-2. Collins continued his hot streak with another three hits and three RBIs.
But it was then Victoria’s time to shine in Saturday’s double-header, with two convincing wins.
In the seven-inning contest, Victoria won 13-5, with five first inning runs doing the damage, Justin Huber smashing a two-run home run the highlight. Later in the game Brett Tamburrino and Grant Karlsen also belted balls over the fence.
To even the season ledger at 3-3, Victoria won the final game 8-3. Andrew Russell hit a home run in the first inning, while Paul Weichard belted a three-run double in the second.
Reliever Matthew Blackmore came on to pitch in the third inning and threw six frames for three hits and six K2s for one run to claim the win.