A CLASSY century from Strathdale-Maristians’ opening batsman Travis King on Saturday has propelled the Suns into their fifth-straight Bendigo District Cricket Association grand final.
King’s 140 was the standout performance in the Suns’ 65-run semi-final win over Golden Square.
In the other first XI semi-final, Eaglehawk defeated Bendigo United by 36 runs to set up a grand final showdown at the QEO this weekend against the Suns for the first time since 1983.
On Saturday at Bell Oval, King’s red-hot form for the Suns continued with his 140 the backbone of the Suns’ imposing total of 297.
Having gone into the game averaging 72.2 in his previous five matches, King produced the highest score in a BDCA final since Bendigo United’s Peter Sommerville’s 158 in a 1995 semi against North Bendigo.
King was in control from the outset, with his second scoring shot a six off James Pietromonaco soon after Golden Square had claimed its first wicket when the struggling Cameron Taylor (4) was trapped lbw by Darren Clutton.
With the score 1-6 in the fourth over, semi-final specialist Jono Davidson then joined King, with the pair putting the Suns in control with a 109-run partnership.
They scored freely, taking the score to 1-73 off 23 overs at the first drinks break, and bringing up the 100 in the 35th over.
The partnership ended in the 39th over when Davidson (63 off 117, 10 fours) was caught at mid-on by Square captain Grant Connelly off Scott Johnson (1-47).
Saturday was Davidson’s third-consecutive semi-final score over 60 and came on the back of a lean past two games.
Captain Linton Jacobs (24 off 74) then partnered King for an 80-run stand for the third wicket, taking the score to 195.
For most of the innings the Suns had looked like posting a score around 330 – particularly having been 2-133 off 46 overs at tea – but Square fought back well after the dismissal of Jacobs.
From what had been 2-195 in the 66th over, Square took the last eight Suns’ wickets for 102 runs to bowl them out in the 83rd over.
The string of wickets in the last hour included the last five falling for just 21 runs.
The last of the wickets was a brilliant diving catch by Clutton at point to dismiss Ryan Haythorpe (9) off Pietromonaco (3-68).
King batted through to the 80th over before he was run out with a direct hit from Scott Woodman at the bowler’s stumps after being sent back by Craig Howard (2) to be the eighth wicket to fall with the score on 280.
The left-hander’s 140 came off 232 balls and included 16 fours and one six during a brilliant 270-minute stay at the crease.
Clutton finished with a well-
deserved five-wicket haul for Square, taking 5-98 off 32 overs to be his side’s standout bowler.
Yesterday, Golden Square openers Alex Code and John Lalor got their side off to a strong start with an 87-run opening stand.
But just as the pair looked like safely getting Square through to tea without the loss of a wicket, disaster struck four overs before the break when Code was run out by Jono Davidson.
Code, back in the first XI for the first time since round eight, made 41 off 112 balls (three fours and one six).
Soon after on the second-last ball before tea, Lalor (39 off 132, four fours and one six) shouldered arms to veteran Craig Howard and was adjudged lbw, leaving Square 2-90 off 41 overs at the break.
More trouble was to follow soon after the resumption of play for Square when, in the in the first seven overs after tea, Jason Johnson (2), Grant Connelly (4) and Scott Trollope (0) were all dismissed.
From 0-87, Square had lost 5-12 to fall to 5-99 and from there it was game over.
Cameron Taylor (3-71) claimed three of the five quick wickets to fall for the Suns, while fellow spinner Howard (3-73) also ended the match with three wickets.
Square coach Scott Johnson, batting at No.3, finished unbeaten on 83 off 127 balls (seven fours, two sixes), with his innings including an 82-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Jake Higgins (30 off 98) in Square’s score of 8-232.
● At Harry Trott Oval, Eaglehawk yesterday successfully defended its score of 203, bowling Bendigo United out for 167.
The Redbacks’ batting again proved brittle as Cory Jacobs (4-24) and man-of-the-match Andrew Smith (4-44), bowling with an injured calf, combined for eight wickets for the Hawks.
The Redbacks, who resumed at 1-7 yesterday after losing opener Mark Di Fede (0) during a tricky three-over stint late Saturday, had been 3-74 during their chase.
But as has become all too common post-Christmas when chasing, they fell in a hole, losing 6-56 to crash to 9-130.
Matt Pinniger and No.11 Miggy Podosky put on the Redbacks’ best partnership of the innings with 37 for the last wicket, but too much was left up to Pinniger.
Starting his innings with the score 3-43 in the 27th over, Pinniger finished unbeaten on 67 off 102 (six fours and two sixes).
While Pinniger was at the crease the Redbacks’ had hope, but he didn’t receive enough support.
Opener Wayne Fidler (32 off 131) was the only other player to pass 20, batting until 20 minutes before tea, while night watchman Patrick Naughtin did his job in making 18 and batting for 75 minutes yesterday.
The Hawks landed a massive blow when Jacobs had dangerman Heath Behrens caught at slip by Matt White for one with the score on 43, while he also dismissed Fidler among his four wickets.
Smith’s four wickets included Di Fede on Saturday night and Redbacks’ captain Leigh McDermott (2), who was caught by Matt Fitt first ball after tea.
Richard Tibbett bowled with plenty of venom to take 2-59 off 17 overs, including the match-winning wicket of Podosky (13), out lbw.
On Saturday after winning the toss and batting, the Hawks had plenty of players make starts, but only Andrew Smith went on with it in Eaglehawk’s innings of 203.
After coming in with the score at 4-68 in the 38th over, Smith – who was almost caught at short leg by Matt Pinniger first ball – made his first half-century in a final for the Hawks with his 66 off 65 balls.
The aggressive Smith took the attack up to the Redbacks bowlers, hitting nine fours as well as one six – off Patrick Naughtin (1-7) on the last ball before tea.
As well as Smith’s 66, the Hawks also had Sam Walker (22), opener Luke Jones (21), Cory Jacobs (17), Cameron McGlashan (16), captain Jason Abbott (14) and Anthony West (10) make double figures.
Jones fought hard at the top of the order for the Hawks in facing 107 balls for his 21 and batting until 15 minutes before tea.
The only partnership above 30 for the Hawks was the 40 that Smith and McGlashan, in his first final, put on for the fifth wicket, with Smith scoring 36 of those during their stand.
Leigh McDermott finished with 4-37 off 17 overs for the Redbacks, which included the key wicket of Smith, who he bowled in the 62nd over to leave the Hawks 7-156.
Spinner Nick Crawford claimed 2-42 off 20 overs, at one stage having figures of 2-6 off 9.4 overs.
Miggy Podosky (2-61 off 19 overs) also took two wickets.