Cougars pounced late to overrun Armidale Outlaws 5-4 in Saturday’s Tamworth Baseball competition preliminary final and set up a grand final showdown with Warriors.
In what was an enthralling contest, both sides struggled to connect the first couple of innings and heading into the top of the third scores were locked at 0-all.
The Outlaws broke the deadlock with Mick Alldis, Josh Shaw and Minoru Masui crossing the home plate. Cougars responded with a run of their own.
The score remained 3-1 until the top of the seventh when Brock Ridgwell hit Scott Hurn home. Two batters later Brian Hopton pierced second and third base for Ridgewell to make it home and level the scores.
Their next innings Ridgewell made another strong hit, this time for loaded bases. Bullock then stepped up to get Trent Ashen home, and on the missfield in the outfield, Hurn gave them a 5-3 lead.
Both sides were scoreless their next innings, leaving the Outlaws with one final chance. Liam Garty hit Cam Beat home but they couldn't muster the extra run they needed.
It was a timely first win for Cougars over the Outlaws.
“We were facing a very good side with very good pitching strength. Our guys struggled early to make good contact,” Cougars coach Pancho McDougall said.
“We had a plan and as we got through the game we started to bat well.”
He said their pitchers did a terrific job.
“Both of them (Ridgewell and Kris Bird) and defensively we were really good against a side that hits very well.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.