Wayback Whensday – Doncaster Edition

SEMI-FINAL, 1998-99
Springvale defeated Doncaster 3 – 1

In the days before BV had graduated to finals series, each finals game had significance, and for Springvale, a win in the semi-final against Doncaster meant the fight for the premiership could
The game was contested at the Ballpark on a Sunday afternoon, and Springvale took the field with Rob Hogan on the mound to Mark Cater behind the plate. Doncaster batted first, and had an early piece of luck when a long-hit ball from Doncaster’s Cameron Ross was dropped by centre-fielder Lucas Price. Armen Kouchakdjian, later to be a Lion, followed up with a hit to right-field, advancing Ross. But Ross rounded too hard, and was put out heading back to 3rd , negating Price’s error and taking the pressure of Hogan. Immediately, though, Hogan gave up another hit to Daniel Mack. A groundball saw Mack out at 2nd , but Kouch was at 3rd , with two  down, and Matthew Kent up for Doncaster. His groundball to Scott Wearne at 2nd was fielded truly, and Springvale had got out of a dangerous situation.
So it was Springvale who scored first, in the bottom of the first, matching Doncaster’s two hits, but with no base-running flaws. Mark Cater opened with an infield hit, and Scott Wearne advanced him, singling to right-field. From then, two simple groundballs led to outs but pushed Cater round the bases to score. Rob Hogan was the third out with a swinging strike-out, but Springvale had taken that early lead.
In the second, Doncaster struggled, and Hogan retired the batters in order to allow the Springvale batters a chance to further the lead. Michael Firth led off with a walk, before tall 1st baseman Brett Mast hit truly to centre-field. Scott Kerr bunted intelligently, leaving Doncaster with no chance to slice out the advancing runners. Then Jarrod Hough hit a powerful ball over right-field and both runs scored. Springvale were leading the semi-final three to nil.
From then on, the contest was tight, and players from both teams steeled themselves to compete. Over the middle innings, Hogan gave up only one hit, to lead-off Steve Balkin in the third, and two double plays through Hough at shortstop gave Doncaster little chance to pull back on Springvale’s narrow lead. Doncaster, too, worked double plays through their shortstop, so hits to Myles Barnden in the third, and Brett Mast in the fourth had little value.
In the sixth, Springvale recorded its second multiple base error, when Brett Mast threw wildly to his own base, allowing Balkin to reach 2nd . But Hogan induced three flyballs to follow, so, again, no price was extracted for a panicky error. In the bottom of the sixth, Springvale went two batters, two outs, before Darren Cassidy gave up his second walk. Michael Firth singled, and then a two-out error at 3rd loaded the bases for Springvale. Ben Page came in to hit for Scott Kerr, but, while he put the ball to the outfield, a fly saw the runners stranded and the chance to extend that early lead wasted.
The lead looked more fragile in the seventh when Matthew Kent doubled to right-field. Hogan wobbled, sending down his first walk of the day to Justin Woo, but again the field held firm, with Wearne and Hogan sweeping up the groundballs.
In the eighth, Springvale pushed hard, with opening batter Barnden walking. Lucas Price could not advance Barnden, but then Hogan had a safe hit to first base and Michael Firth loaded the bases with a hit to right. With only one down, Springvale had a strong opportunity to generate a safer margin, but first Brett Mast, who had hit strongly through the day, was out on a flyball, and then Page watched a third strike over; for the second time in the game, Springvale had loaded the bases then left the runners on.
Finally, it came down to the ninth. The lead looked much more vulnerable when Doncaster’s lead-off Chris Nicholas blasted the ball over left-field fence, a solo home run for Doncaster’s first score of the day. How would Hogan follow up from this blow? The next batter popped up the first pitch to Wearne, and then two more balls to second base were pounced on by the teenager and the semi-final was ours.
Michael Firth and Brett Mast both had two hits for the game. Jarrod Hough recorded two RBIs from Springvale’s only multiple base hit. Mark Cater, Scott Wearne, Myles Barnden and Robert Hogan contributed hits.
The next week, Springvale went on to defeat Melbourne in the next final, and achieved a knife-edge six-five win against the same opponent to win the Pennant.
Mark Cater – catcher
Scott Wearne – 2nd base
Myles Barnden – left-field
Lucas Price – centre-field
Robert Hogan – pitcher
Michael Firth – 3rd base
Brett Mast – 1st base
Scott Kerr – right-field
Jarrod Hough – shortstop
SUB – Ben Page