BALLARAT City Brewers have catapulted into the Geelong Baseball Association A grade preliminary final.
Brewers opened their final campaign with an 11-1 thumping of Deakin in an elimination final at Waurn Ponds on Saturday.
Ballarat made the most of Deakin missing a couple of its key players, and from another fine game by starting pitcher Ross Hipke.
Ballarat sealed the game with six runs in the fifth innings to lead by 10 and set up a mercy-rule call.
Sparked by a two-out rally in the bottom of the first, the Brewers were never seriously threatened despite conceding an unearned run in the third.
Seven unearned runs proved terminal for the hapless Blues, which battled offensively.
Tom Harrington took over from Hipke to ice the game for Ballarat.
Hipke gave up just three hits.
Left-fielder Jason Tonkin went three from three, including a sacrifice bunt that somehow landed him at third base – while manager Hamish Burrows (two hits and an RBI), Alan Collins (one hit and two RBIs), Cameron Smith (one hit and two RBIs) and Harrington (two hits and one RBI) offered no respite for Deakin, which badly missed relief pitcher Wade Balzer.
The Brewers now meet Lara in the preliminary final at Geelong Baseball Centre on Saturday.
Lara defeated Ballarat twice this season, but lost to Guild in the second semi-final.
HITS - Ballarat: J. Tonkin 3, H. Burrows 2, T. Harrington 2, A. Hughes, R. Hipke, L. Ashmore, S. Kerr, A. Collins, C. Smith
RBI - Ballarat: A. Collins 2, C. Smith 2, A. Hughes, T. Harrington, J. Tonkin, H. Burrows, L. Ashmore, R. Hipke
PITCHING - Ballarat: R. Hipke 6 inn, 3 H, 6 K, 1 BB, 0 HPB, 0 ER; T.Harrington 1 inn, 1 H, 0 K, 0 BB, 0 HPB, 0 ER
Second semi-final: Guild Lions 11 d Mounties 8
First semi-final: Lara 14 d Colac 2
Second semi-final: Guild Lions 9 d Alfredton 3
First semi-final: Guild Cubs 9 d Saints 6
Second semi-final: Corio 8 d Lara Wildcats 4
First Semi-Final: Colac 18 d Alfredton 6