KEY MAN: Jason Britt, one of Norths’ pitchers in the FNC Major League baseball grand final series.
KEY MAN: Jason Britt, one of Norths’ pitchers in the FNC Major League baseball grand final series.

Norths may have edge in big one

FAR North Coast Baseball’s weather-affected season will come to an exciting climax in Lismore this afternoon when teams battle it out for major premierships in four senior and three junior divisions.

Norths are represented in all the senior grades, having won all the minor premierships, and by their Under-20s.

In the main game on Baxter Field starting at 2.30pm, Norths and Redbirds will meet in the second fixture of their best-of-three grand final series.

The opening game was last night and the winner of that goes into the clash today with a big advantage.

A win in the opening game has usually led to that team taking out the series, but with pitching restrictions introduced in 2007 a dominant pitcher can no longer be recycled.

The line-ups appear remarkably close in ability. The pitching and catching strength is similar and the batting virtual mirror images.

Norths have a slight edge in base running with some exceptionally mobile players – if they get on.

If the series goes to a decider, it will be played straight after the second game.

In Division 1, Norths will play Workers in a rematch of last year. Norths are the defending premiers and have dominated in recent years. Workers have been unpredictable this season, but have done well to move into the grand final for their chance at the title.

In Division 2, Ballina get their chance after a good win last Saturday. Ballina have solid pitching and some exceptional young players to go with their old heads. Norths, however, have been the dominant side this season and will not be content to walk away empty-handed.

In Division 3, Workers will take on Norths. Workers have plenty of depth in their club and will be a solid opponent for a Norths line-up with a number of players in their final games after long stints with the club.
In the juniors, Norths play Ballina in the Under-20s, while Marist Brothers face Redbirds in the Under-16s and in the Under-14s.

Coaches’ view

Dave McClelland (Workers): “I think Norths will have too much on Redbirds. I think they are too strong all through the line-up. If Paul Simes and Jason Britt do their job, Norths will win this in two.”
Key players: “Paul Simes, Clint McCarthy, Jason Britt and Danny O’Sullivan for Norths are the key here. Danny particularly brings an old head back into the game. He knows how to play in the finals and how to win. McCarthy too has that maturity. He has improved a hell of a lot since he was young. As for Paul Simes, it goes without saying he knows what he is doing.”

Geoff Baxter (Norths): “If Redbirds play like the way they can, the series will be tight. There will be some very good baseball out there. At times Redbirds have lost to us because they lose concentration – that’s the only reason we beat them, they go to sleep in a couple of digs. I predicted that we would be playing them in the grand final. I reckon this will go to three. The hitting power of the teams is the same, but it is who can concentrate and who can throw strikes. There is going to be nothing in them. If we give them a sniff like we did last year, anything can happen. I am not taking it easy, I can tell you.”

Key players: “For me it’s the pitchers – on both sides. The winner here will be the side that throws fewest walks and most strikes. For us the key will be Clint McCarthy and Paul Simes. We may have a bit more speed than Redbirds on the bases, but we need some of our guys to lift their batting. We need all nine hitting. Redbirds had all nine hitting last week and that was the difference.”

Peter Best (Redbirds): “Norths have been the team to beat all year and they deserve the right to be favourites, but if we play our best baseball we could cause an upset. Whoever fields the best, hits the best and pitches the best will win. Whoever makes errors will lose. If we hit like last weekend, they will be in trouble.”

Key players: “Pitching for both teams is the key here. Their big name players will be the ones to watch – Paul Simes, Danny O’Sullivan. They are just a good team. ”

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