THE Limestone Coast is again celebrating with another state success, after the region claimed back-to-back senior South Australian Country Championships baseball titles.
Under 15, Under 17 and senior sides from the region headed up to Adelaide, with the seniors victorious, after a strong 4-0 win over Sunraysia in the grand final.
The juniors played five-games series against Sunraysia, with the latter winning both grades.
For the seniors it was not all plain sailing, with a couple of losses throughout the round games, including a 6-5 loss to Sunraysia.
But they turned that around in the grand final with a flawless performance to clinch the title.
For coach Sean Horrigan it was a pleasing result, considering the tough Sunraysia side had just finished its winter season, with all players conditioned, while the Mount Gambier league kicks off this weekend.
Horrigan said it came down to a strong group of players, including Naracoorte’s Ben Keeping and Mount Gambier’s Dylan Ridding and Ryan Broome.
All three now play up in Adelaide and are on the Giants’ roster in the Australian Baseball League.
“I was stoked after this year to go back-to-back,” Horrigan said.
“Last year it was a 6-5 ball game and we won it in the last innings.
“This year the boys started from the get go and we won 4-0.
“It made it comfortable for us as coaches – we did not have to make many moves because the boys were doing all the work.”
Horrigan said the win was helped by a few match-defining moments.
“At one stage Dylan Ridding made a catch in short stop, which normally a lot of guys would let through,” Sean Horrigan said.
“He took an outstanding catch and made a play which stopped Sunraysia in that innings.
“That was probably the only innings I felt uncomfortable where Sunraysia might have scored runs, but with the catch it stopped the innings.
“Braiden Morton took five or six catches at right field in the final and you do not win baseball matches unless you have a quality pitcher on the mound.
“I had league medalist Dylan Chuck throwing in the final.
“He threw quality pitches which Sunraysia really struggled to hit.
“I think they only had two safe hits for the game and they are a really good hitting side.”
The personal performances were reflected in the awards at the end of the competition.
Tyler Horrigan was named MVP based on the minor rounds.
He was also named the best batter for the series with an average of .778.
Dylan Ridding claimed overall MVP, which included the final.
Sean Horrigan was named coach of the team of the year, along with assistant coach Brad Lynagh and team manager Andrew McClean.
Tyler Horrigan was named in the team as the designated hitter, Darcy Pink in the outfield and Karl Ransom as pitcher after and earned run average of 2.0.
Sean Horrigan said it was pleasing to see those individual performances, which he said was a reflection of the quality of the squad at his disposal.
“This year we had some good representation,” he said.
“It was the hardest thing I had to do because I had 14 quality players.
“It makes your job harder because you have to try to pick the best nine.
“But on the other hand, it really does not matter who you put out there because you know they are going to work hard for you.
“When you take such a good group of guys away like I had, they make it easier as a coach.”
He also noted it was more impressive considering the quality of players in the championships.
“There were a lot of quality players running around in that competition,” Horrigan said.
“There are kids who have been over to America, lived in college camp style and played minor baseball.
“They are top quality baseballers.
“Then you have country kids like we have here.
“It seems to reflect a bit on what we are doing in the country.”