Melbourne has won its 3rd Summer Division Two pennant (Previously in 1987/88 and 2000/20001). It will return to Division One after the past three seasons in Division Two, having previously been a power in Division One.
With Andrew Mann throwing six innings in a superb outing, the Demons held Preston to six hits while the Kent brothers, Campbell Wiggins and Rich Unwin led a productive offence that cashed in on some defensive errors to hold a fourteen zip lead after four and wrap the contest up in seven innings.
Remarkably, the club – one of the three oldest in Victoria, with a catalogue of playing success at senior and junior levels – has not won a Division One pennant since Victorian baseball went to summer in the mid-seventies. It again will have its chance, having achieved the two principal goals that it set for this season.
“Our first goal was to finish on top and assure ourselves of a spot in Division One,” said triumphant Demons Manager Matt Kent.
“Our second season goal was to win the flag.”
“Our guys have not let up all season and have not changed their endeavour to get to where we wanted to be. The players and committee have just been great. We’ve had plenty of people wanting to help out however they can and the senior people around the club have been focused – like us – on the same goals.”
“Everyone around the club has grown this season,” Kent said. “There has been a lot of resolve after the disappointment last year and the focus has not wavered.”
While reluctant to single out individuals in what has been a genuine club effort engineered by all of those directly involved with the club, Kent recognises the quality work of his pitching work that shone through again today.
“Andrew Mann has been solid all season,” said Kent. “His application has been fantastic and he enjoys how we’ve been playing our baseball. It was no surprise that he stood up again today.”
“Johnson was our front-line guy, but it was important that we gave him the support that we did. He set the example of going after the hitters and not walking guys. We couldn’t have asked for any more of him. And he was just a great guy to have around the club.”
Committing to continuing with Melbourne next season, Kent is optimistic about the club’s future.
“We’re trying hard to build a strong Division One club,” he said. “The club has a strong base to work from and I’m confident we’ll be very competitive in the new season.”
It is an exciting time, too, for Preston, which is still celebrating its centennial year and can do so in the very best manner with a return to Division One, where it has won the Championship three times since the mid-eighties.
It was a disappointing effort on the day, although finishing runner-up to the powerful Melbourne squad was a particularly impressive effort given that Preston was struggling in Division Three just a couple of years ago and given that it looked no chance – before Christmas - of making the play-offs.
Congratulations to both clubs on earning reinstatement in Division One, with particular recognition for the Melbourne club, which was stiff in the finals last year and atoned in the best possible manner by taking the Division Two Championship.