Premiers to be decided in best-of-three contest

GAME ON: Central's Dylan Chuck will be dangerous on the mound when the Magpies clash with Federal in the Division 1 baseball grand final series this weekend. Picture: JAMES MURPHY

THE 2023-24 Mount Gambier Baseball League season comes to a close this weekend.

Grand finals will be contested across the weekend, with the Division 1 premiership decided in the traditional best-of-three game series starting Friday night.

The other grades will be played either Friday or Saturday, with plenty of action in store as the best teams in the competition fight for the annual bragging rights.

DIVISION 1 – Central v Federal

Game 1 of the three-game Division 1 series will be played at 8pm under lights at Blue Lake Sports tonight.

Central has been the frontrunner in the division this season and will come up against Federal, who surprised some when defeating Tigers in last week’s preliminary final.

Expect eight-time League best and fairest Dylan Chuck to start on the hill for Central, while Alex Reppin will start for Federal.

This will be a close and tough first-up game if the preliminary final is anything to go by.

Both Chuck and Reppin will be throwing rockets and it will be a matter of whichever batting side gets on top.

Pitchers are only allowed 125 pitches over the three games, so another factor will be if they only throw half of those to allow for the possible three games, or do they go all out.

Both teams have solid relievers with Alex Ridding and Koby Chant for the Magpies and coach Clay Carpenter and Riley Rolph for the Demons.

The question will be how they juggle their pitchers over three possible games.

Central appears to have little more consistency in its batting lineup which includes Kyall McClean, Dave Harris, Nathan Meinck, Dylan Gull and Colby Muller.

For Federal the lineup includes Alex Pearson, brothers Matt and Craig Nicholls, Jordan Johnson and League best Under 20 player Nash Lobley.

A first-game win for Central would be expected, but beware the bite of the underdog.

The second game of the series will be played at 4pm on Saturday, following the Division 2 final.

This game will depend a lot on who starts on the mound for both teams.

Will they hold over their Game 1 starters or did they pitch them out?

Relievers are never quite as good as the main starters but can certainly hold their own.

Should the maximum pitches be reached by both teams, expect Ridding to start for Central in Game 2 and Carpenter to open for the Demons.

Batting from both sides will be at a premium and both teams bat long and deep and will be pushing their runners hard for extra bases.

If both games are won by the same team the premiership will have been claimed.

However, if they are split, a third game will be played starting at 7pm.

Fatigue will come into play and if this happens Central’s greater pitching depth will be a big advantage.

Central will be the heavy favourites to claim back-to-back premierships, but only time will tell how the series unfolds.