News Stories

Black Sox star Joel Evans in winner's circle again as Hutt Valley break 18-year softball duck

February 18, 2018

North Harbour, NZ - - Black Sox star Joel Evans in winner's circle again as Hutt Valley break 18-year softball duck



Supplied

Joel Evans has won a world championships for the Black Sox and captained Hutt Valley to their first national provincial title for 18 years.

ORIGINAL STORY by Tony Smith

Joel Evans' vintage softball year continued when the Black Sox slugger led Hutt Valley to their first New Zealand men's softball title for 18 years.

Evans - whose grand slam home run earned the Black Sox a seventh world championship gold medal last July - was the National Fastpitch Championship tournament MVP as Hutt Valley beat Auckland 6-1 in Sunday's grand final at Albany.

The stocky second baseman and veteran former Black Sox outfielder Gareth Cook were Hutt's hitting stars.

Hutt Valley's Jay Johnston scored a run in the 2018 NFC softball final (file photo).
ROBERT KITCHIN

Hutt Valley's Jay Johnston scored a run in the 2018 NFC softball final (file photo).

 

Cook - in his first season for Hutt Valley after 20 years with Canterbury - scooted around the diamond to complete the scoring and make it a golden afternoon for the Hutt Valley association after their women's team beat Auckland to win their first national title since 2009.

READ MORE: 
* Hutt Valley win women's softball title
* Rona stars at softball
* Czechs impress at NFC
Black Sox pitcher to debut for Auckland
Auckland chase fourth softball title

Softball prides itself on being a family sport and that was truly the case for Hutt Valley this season with three brother-and-sister sets- Ashley and Jay Johnston, Denva and Sage Shaw-Tait and Danica and Joseph Ferriso - earning winners' medals.

Nik Hayes hurled Hutt Valley to their first national softball title since 2000.
Phillip Rollo

Nik Hayes hurled Hutt Valley to their first national softball title since 2000.

 

Steve Deans' Hutt Valley men's team followed their women counterparts' title winning lead by putting continual pressure on their Auckland rivals.

A few timely batting rallies and some fine containing pitching by Black Sox world champion Nik Hayes shatter Auckland's dream of a fourth consecutive crown as Hutt Valley applied the pressure from start to finish.

Cook, 40, went three from four with the bat in the final and Evans hit two from four as Hutt clinched their first title since 2000 when current Black Sox coach Mark Sorenson was still leading their batting lineup.

Hayes, who missed the first two days of the tournament through work commitments, gave Hutt a definite defensive edge. He gave up six hits for five strikeouts and three walks.

 

Deans was anxious not to let Auckland get a jump on his charges and he got his wish with Hutt's hitters claiming an early lead.

Former Aucklander Ngawati Apanui did the damage in the top of the second inning, driving a double off Auckland pitcher Daniel Chapman to score Waylon Tuhoro-Robinson and Jay Johnston for a 2-0 lead.

But the "family firm" of Black Sox gold medallists combined to pinch a run back for Auckland in the bottom of the fourth.

Black Sox star Ben Enoka led off with a single and scooted around to third base on his brother Thomas' hit. Their cousin, catcher Kallan Compain, stepped up and smashed a hit beyond Cook's grasp at third base to score Ben Enoka.

But Hutt Valley hit back immediately with three runs in the top of the fifth after a hitting spree to lead 4-1.

Evans and Joseph Ferriso led off with singles and Tuhoro-Robinson, the designated runner, scored after Cook's deep hit was caught on the leftfield fence, but Bradley Bennett spilled the ball while setting up to throw.

Ferriso plated later on former Black Sox catcher Cory Timu's RBI single.

Auckland could not score in the bottom of the fifth despite back-to-back hits by Ben Enoka and player-coach Nathan Nukunuku.

Black Sox pitcher Campbell Gibson, who had been suffering from a chest infection, took the mound for Hutt Valley in the top of the sixth and put the brakes on any further Hutt Valley scoring.

Auckland gave their supporters a glimmer of hope when Rhys Evans, one of the tournament's top hitters, delivered a two-out double to the left-centrefield fence, bringing up former Black Sox outfielder Alfons Oveinikovas. But he flied out, leaving Evans stranded.

Hutt made them pay when Joel Evans led off the seventh with a double. He scored when Cook, who commutes from Christchurch to play,  was also credited with a two-bagger. But  the former Junior Kiwis rugby league international was able to race right around the diamond to score the final run after an Auckland error. 

AT A GLANCE

NFC men's softball final: Hutt Valley 6 Auckland 1.

Awards

Top batter: Pita Rona (North Harbour) .619 average.

Top pitcher: Campbell Gibson (Auckland).

Most Valuable Player: Joel Evans (Hutt Valley).

 

 - Stuff

OUR SPONSORS

TRENDING NOW
@alsfastball
FRIENDS OF AL'S FASTBALL