History repeats as grand final looms
THEY did it the hard way, but Ipswich are into their second consecutive Major A League competition grand final.
As the strongest attacking side in the competition, the Ipswich Musketeers won back-to-back games against the Carina Redsox to again book a final showdown with the Windsor Royals.
Rain had pushed the first game of preliminary final from Friday night to Saturday, which threatened to put Ipswich off their game.
"Everyone did say it felt weird coming out to play on a Saturday,” Ipswich player/coach Josh Roberts said.
"I think that's the good thing about having an older team is that it didn't bother them too much.
"A younger player might get rattled but being a bit older and more experienced you just move on.”
The Musketeers showcased why they have been the best attacking team in the competition, putting on 11 runs to three performance in the first game against Carina.
Returning to the field yesterday, Ipswich pitcher Dean Jones threw eight innings before Kris Richards stepped in to close out the Musketeers' second victory 2-1.
"Deano did his job once again,” Roberts said. "He only gave one run up in eight innings and then Kris came in and closed them down.
"He threw hard and that's what we expect of him when he goes out there.”
Ipswich will face their grand final rivals and reigning premiers Windsor this weekend.
Unlike last year when the Musketeers earned a week off leading into the grand final, Roberts said playing consistent games would give them an edge this time.
"I was happy to do it the hard way this year,” he said.
"Last year we had the week off and I think that hurt us a bit.
"It feels different this time around. It feels like we have gotten more of a roll on and we should be ready.”
It has been a common theme of the Ipswich season to come out firing in the first game of the weekend, only to find themselves in an arm-wrestle for the second.
Despite playing fewer games than any other top four team this season, Ipswich maintained the best scoring record of the competition.
That ability to score big or win tight games has Roberts confident the Musketeers can turn it around against the Royals this year.
"We've scored a lot of runs and had to battle hard on the Sunday so feel like we've got a roll on at the moment,” he said. "It does give you confidence knowing you can put runs on the board and win those tight games.
"We proved it on the Saturday that we have the right bats and can win. It's business as usual at training this week and hopefully we can get the win next week.”
The grand final will be played at the Windsor Royals home ground at Newmarket.
Major A League preliminary final - Ipswich Musketeers v Carina Redsox at Carina:
Game 1 (Saturday): Ipswich 11 def Carina 3.
Game 2 (Sunday): Ipswich 2 def Carina 1.