Leading 9-5 and just two outs away from an A grade win, the wheels came off for the Bellingen Brewers on Saturday as the Woolgoolga Bluesox came back to steal a 10-5 win.
The Brewers opened the scoring in the top of the first inning with Nik Doves doubling in Rob Kozik with two out. But the Bluesox answered with four runs in their turn at bat to grab an early 4-1 lead.
The teams traded runs in the second inning. Joel Northcott doubled home Mick Nelson for the Brewers, then Bellingen held the Bluesox to a single run as Cooper Bake-Smith, who had a stellar defensive game at shortstop, started an inning-ending double play.
Bellingen followed with four runs in the top of the third inning to forge ahead, 6-5. Kozik got things started with his second hit, Bake-Smith followed with a run-scoring triple and Northcott capped things off with a two-run single.
Kozik came on to pitch in relief in the bottom half of the inning with a runner on first and one out and turned a sharply-hit smash up the middle into another inning-ending double play. After the Brewers added a run in the top of the fourth inning, Kozik set the Bluesox down in order.
It looked like the game would end with the fifth inning, but the Brewers went down quickly in the top half of the inning, then David Edgecock, on in relief of Kozik, made quick work of the Bluesox, sending the game to a sixth inning with Bellingen leading, 7-5.
The Brewers looked about to blow the game open, as they scored twice more and had the bases loaded with just one out, when the Bluesox turned a hard-hit line drive into a fluke double play. Still, with a 9-5 lead Bellingen looked set to break a six-game A grade losing streak.
After a walk to the Bluesox leadoff batter and a strikeout, disaster struck. The Woolgoolga runner, who had reached third, attempted to score on a short passed ball. He initially was called out, but the umpire then reversed his call, making the score 9-6. The next batter followed with a catchable fly ball that dropped in safely, which was followed by a two-run home run, cutting the Brewers lead to a single run. The next batter singled, putting the tying run on base. He looked to be cut down attempting to steal second but evaded the tag. From there the Bluesox completed their winning comeback against a frustrated Bellingen side.
In B grade, the shorthanded Brewers fell to the Bluesox, 10-1. Pressed into duty as starting pitcher, J-P van Schie was outstanding for Bellingen, holding the Bluesox scoreless until a two-out error in the bottom of the third inning opened the door for Woolgoolga to score twice. From there the game slipped away, with the Bluesox benefitting from three triples hit into the vacant area in right field. Jezza Johnston had two hits for the Brewers.
The junior Brewers also were missing players on Saturday. Over four innings, Bellingen tallied nine walks and two hit batsman, but struggled to drive those runners in when the ball was thrown across the plate, falling to the Allstars, 13-3.