By Lance Jenkinson
Werribee Giants hardly put a foot wrong in the first half of the Baseball Victoria summer league division 2 season, going into the mid-season break flying high in second place.
But the Giants might have got complacent over the festive period, because they returned on Sunday and looked nothing like the team that had dominated its first 15 games.
Entering the run in to the finals, perhaps it was a good time for the Giants to get their wake-up call, which came in the form of a 3-1 defeat to Williamstown Wolves at President’s Park.
Giants coach John Curnow was not happy with his side’s preparation in the lead-up to the match.
“They enjoyed their break off a bit too much maybe and they weren’t ready to go,” he said.
“I gave them the extended break, so they weren’t due back until the Tuesday before the game, but a lot of them didn’t get back until Thursday, if at all.
“I asked them to put in a bit of work on their own. They’ve done a little bit, but it obviously wasn’t enough.”
Werribee simply had no answer to Williamstown import pitcher Dennis Neal.
The Giants could manage only four hits on a tough day in the batters box.
Neal produced a wonderful display on the mound, pitching all nine innings and conceding just one run.
“He threw the complete game,” Curnow said. “He mixed up his pitches OK and kept a few of our hitters off balance.”
Werribee’s defence was not up to its usual standard. The Giants allowed eight hits, but at times the pitchers were left on an island to themselves.
“Even out in the field we were pretty ordinary,” Curnow said. “We made some mistakes that we don’t normally make.”
Werribee starting pitcher Josh Lee will be better for the outing.
Lee was solid across six innings, conceding one run, but taking the loss.
“He wasn’t as sharp as he usually is,” Curnow admitted.
“He’s had three or four weeks off, so we’ve got to build him back up.
“We’ll build him up again and, come finals, he should be sharp and won’t need too much rest.”
Import Guillermo Salazer was slated to pitch in relief for Werribee, but those plans were thrown into chaos after he was thrown out of the game for disputing an umpire’s decision.
“He disagreed with the umpire a couple of times and the umpire had enough of it and let him go,” Curnow said.
“It was a very soft ejection – no abusive language, no nothing. He just told him it was a bad call twice and it was enough for the umpire to say, ‘Have a seat’.”
Trent Pantalleresco threw the final three innings for Werribee, giving up two runs.
Werribee will look to hit back in the second game of the three-game series on Thursday night, with Wes De Jong picking up the start at President’s Park, before the series moves to Williamstown on Sunday for the third game.
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