Cardinals, Eagles do battle for top honours

DECIDING FACTOR: Nathan Grogan from Wests Cardinals and Chad Blanch from Berkeley Eagles hold the trophy for the 2017 IBL First Grade Premiership.

DECIDING FACTOR: Nathan Grogan from Wests Cardinals and Chad Blanch from Berkeley Eagles hold the trophy for the 2017 IBL First Grade Premiership.

The competition’s two form teams, Wests Cardinals and Berkeley Eagles, will match up when the Illawarra Baseball League First Grade premiership goes on the line at Fred Finch Park this weekend.

Cardinals – the reigning premiers – have peaked just at the right time after defeating Dapto Chiefs and minor premiers Northern Pirates by ten runs or more.

It came on the back of excellent pitching from their young gun Alex Osborne as well as their offence, led by senior players Scott Sartori and Nathan Grogan. 

Grogan believes that both teams in the decider are evenly matched based on the results of previous weeks.

“Our strengths are our batting, that can score runs and [we] have a pretty solid defence,” he said. 

Chad Blanch, the shortstop from Eagles, felt his side's chances are also pretty good.

“We have the batting line up and pitching staff to win the game,” Blanch said.

“We have shown in the past seven or eight weeks what we are capable of and as good of a team that Cardinals are, us on our day will be very hard to beat."

Eagles have not featured in a grand final since 2011, which was coincidentally won by Cardinals.

They last won the title in 2010.

Cardinals are arguably the most successful team of the past 6 seasons winning three titles and featuring in every grand final apart from 2014. 

Both sides feature a number of young up-and-coming players combined with experience.

None are more credentialed than Eagles' ace Tim Atherton, who will most likely start on the mound.

Atherton pitched earlier in the year for Australia at the World Baseball Classic and his pitching for Berkeley has been a class above the rest. 

For Cardinals' Alex Osborne will be a key part of his side winning back to back titles.

Osborne was recently selected to attend the MLB Academy training program in the Gold Coast and his pitching form over the past two weeks has been exceptional striking out 16 for just 2 hits, 2 walks and no runs given up over 12 innings of work. 

Meanwhile, Shoalhaven Mariners will look to complete a title double in the lower grades.

Mariners face off against Northern Pirates in second grade and meet Wests Illawarra Cardinals in third grade.

All grand finals are on at Fred Finch Park Berkeley with First Grade starting from 1.30pm on Saturday.

  • 1ST GRADE GF

Berkeley Eagles v Wests Cardinals 

Fred Finch Park

Saturday, 1.30pm

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