The Middle Rock Mariners took the field at Blackbutt Reserve on a wild and windy Sunday afternoon against the Port Macquarie Spartans on August 11.
The Mariners started well when Max Carpenter was scored by a deep hit to left field by Tim Harris. The Spartans replied like prospective Premiers, with their first three batters all recording safe hits into the outfield. When Andrew Taylor hit to centre field he brought in three runs.
Although trying very hard and consistently hitting the ball, the Mariners failed to score in the next three innings. This was due to an outstanding pitching display by the Spartans' Chris Whitfield, who consistently got the Mariners' batters to hit to the infield.
He was supported by an error free fielding display by the Spartans' infield.
Whitfield's ability to hold the runners close to the base and his excellent pick off of Matt Lenton was probably the difference between the two teams.
By the end of the fourth innings the Spartans held a match winning 10/1 lead. To their credit the Mariners fought back, scoring four runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
Matt Lenton scored two runs, Max Carpenter one and Brock Colley one.
The Spartans turned three safe hits and a walk into three more runs, leaving a final score of Spartans 13, Mariners 5.
Matt Lenton had an outstanding game as lead off batter, having two safe hits and picking out a walk as well as stealing two bases. His second steal was outstanding as he slid under an attempted tag at second base.
Warren Collins also had two safe hits as well as pitching two innings in relief.
The Mariners' B Grade team had possibly their best game of the season against the undefeated Spartans.
Although losing 14/9 the Mariners recorded six safe hits and picked out six walks in a greatly improved batting display.
The Mariners rotated their pitching well and only allowed one batter on base on an error.
The Mariners unfortunately gave away ten walks and with a little bit more accurate pitching could easily finish the season with a win in the final round.
Captain-Coaches Marty Dures and Tim Moore both commented on the significant improvement of the players, the sportsmanship shown by the teams and the wonderful comradery and friendship developed in the Club during the season.