There were some BIG surprises today, not so much in the results but rather in the finals standings. Who could have been more surprised than KZN when rain prevented WP A and Gauteng U23 from playing and forcing a 9-9 tie. The tie only effects WP A standings on Day 1, but will not effect their tournament at all, in fact, it probably helped them by allowing for them to have a full house of pitchers for the single round of games before the playoffs.
The 9-9 tie would definitely have effected Gauteng U23 and certainly did effect KZN as it would have been a tall order for the U23 team to take a point off the power house WP A team. This more than likely meant the difference between then ending up around 6th spot to ending up in 4th spot. KZN lost in a close game to a strong WP B team 3-1 and then edged out Gauteng B team in another close game 4-2 and this would indicate that they are likely to be a tougher team than either of the teams ending in 4th and 5th spot. The same can be said about Gauteng B.
So, as it turns out, the Plate section is going to be a two horse race by the unlikely due of KZN and Gauteng, I would not know when last KZN were in the plate section, but I am sure Paul Whitfield will push hard to salvage some pride by taking home the gold.
The 2nd big surprise is that there are two U23 teams in the Championship division, the colts are ordinarily kept in the plate section for various and obvious reasons, but not this year. WP U23 showed some good form to deservedly be in the top section. Keeping Gauteng A down to a 4-0 victory (a no hitter by Zach Phillips) but they found their bats and their grove in their 2nd game to comprehensively blow Mandela Bay’s chances of making the championship division clean out the water. The young WP team were defensively very tough today turning no fewer than 5 double plays in only 12 innings. It was only two defensive blunders that let Gauteng score their 4. The other young team certainly sent notice to Zimbabwe that there is no respite from the SA team, after Zimbabwe were well trounced by WP A in the early game. The night game tomorrow night will be the big one for the two young teams to play their “peers” so to say and should be really exciting and festive game, watching SA best juniors on show.
The 3rd and final big surprize is this and it turns the tournament into a convoluted series to say. The Championship division has only two unions in it. Gauteng and Western Province. That is pretty unusual and has certainly got the chins wagging on what should have, could have, might have been.
Gauteng A have not yet had to flex their muscles yet, their clinical performance against WP U23 and their demolition of Mandela Bay indicates that they have plenty in the tank and will step up to the plate tomorrow in a really tough and much anticipated match against WP A in the late game. I fascinating situation comes into play though, WP A are more rested from an easy fixture today and a rain-out, BUT they face the strong WP B team in the early game tomorrow and anyone that knows sport will attend to the fact that there is very little love lost on the park between A and B teams. So though the WP A team is more rested, they have a rumble in the jungle in the early game and then face Gauteng A.
So our recomendation for tomorrow would be this – pitch a tent at Lansdowne to watch the epic battle between WP A and WP B at 9am, then support the vendors and enjoy a break before the next explosion of tense moments with WP A facing Gauteng A (on the field that Gauteng A have played 2 matches already). Then move onto VOB for the night game at 1800 between WP and Gauteng U23’s
It all happens at 14:00 in the plate section tomorrow as well, with Mandela Bay facing Zimbabwe who both, will more than likely be fighting with all they have for their first win. And then who would not want to watch the KZN and Gauteng B battle for top spot.
Today the weather certainly effected the positions and the morning games tomorrow will be a bit wet, but Baseball was certainly the winner with some sublime nuances on show to the trained eye.
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