BALLARAT City Brewers have missed out on a Geelong Baseball Association A-grade grand final berth.
Lara Wildcats defeated Ballarat 3-2 in the knockout preliminary finals on Saturday.
The Brewers led 2-1 after six innings, but two runs in the seventh to Lara sealed their fate.
Despite Lara scoring one run in the opening innings, Ballarat starting pitcher Ross Hipke was on song against the more-favoured Wildcats.
Ballarat had its chances early, but stranded two runners on base in the first, and another couple in the second.
Hipke was relieved by Tom Harrington in the sixth innings.
Harrington held the line in style for the ‘Brew Crew’, which could have engineered an upset of considerable proportions had it cashed in on its earlier opportunities.
A throwing error however proved costly, and Lara regained the lead with two unearned in the seventh.
The Brewers issued a final challenge, only to come up empty as Lara’s Cameron McNish went scoreless in the set-up role and Jeremy Young delivered a timely strikeout to close out the game with bases loaded.
Hitting the ball cleanly all day, the Brewers had standouts in Ash Hughes (three hits), Anthony Clack (two hits and an RBI) and Alan Collins (two hits and run).
Wildcats now play Guild Lions in the grand final at Geelong Baseball Centre on Saturday.
While it was a disappointing end to the season, the Brewers were buoyed by the naming of pitcher Ross Hipke, catcher Leigh Ashmore and Designated Hitter Hamish Burrows to the GBA all-star side.
Hipke was also runner-up to Deakin’s Chris Webb as most valuable player.
HITS - Ballarat: A. Hughes 3, A. Collins 2, A. Clack 2, L. Ashmore, S. Kerr
RBI - Ballarat: C. Smith, A. Clack.
PITCHING - Ballarat: R. Hipke 5 inn, 2 H, 5 K, 4 BB, 1 ER; T. Harrington 3 inn, 3 H, 2 K, 0 BB, 0 ER
Lara 16 d Mounties 0
Guild Cubs 11 d Alfredton 5
Colac 14 d Lara Wildcats 2