IT was anything but perfect but Toronto completed an undefeated season with a 7-4 win over Belmont in the Newcastle first-grade baseball grand final on Saturday.
The Tigers, who won their maiden premiership last season, were never headed after scoring three in the first dig at Plattsburg Park but received a late scare from a determined Belmont outfit.
The Seagulls got within one run in the top of the eighth when James Eade drove in Greg Allen.
But the Tigers stars stood up in the bottom of the dig with a Boss Moanaroa single bringing home grand final MVP Michael Campbell and Pat Maat, who collected his second straight season MVP title after the game.
Relief pitcher Tom Holland then closed it out in the ninth to secure back-to-back titles, after Toronto waited 69 years for their first.
“It wasn’t our best effort … but we got it done today,” Toronto coach Justin Norman said after the match.
“In grand finals it doesn’t matter how you win them as long as you win them.”
Norman felt his team was always in control but said it wasn’t until Belmont closed the gap to one that the players got out of cruise control.
“I think at that stage our guys sort of realised we haven’t stepped our game up there,” he said.
“So we came out and put two runs on just to get a few insurance runs and that obviously, for the last dig, takes a bit of pressure off the pitcher.
“I think two innings there we left loaded bases which is upsetting. But to Belmont’s credit they kept us quiet and the result reflects the way the game went.”
Seagulls coach Duane Harrison was full of praise for his side’s fighting qualities and their defensive effort to restrict the Tigers strong batting line-up to just 10 hits.
“If you had said to me earlier in the week that we were going to get within one run with one inning to go I wouldn’t have believed you,” he said.
“We made a few errors early which could have changed the course of the game but I’m really proud of my blokes especially the pitchers.”
The Seagulls never seriously threatened Toronto in last year’s decider and Harrison said the players were determined to show that 14-run defeat was just an aberration.
“That’s the Belmont that we know - that we never give up no matter what the score is or what’s going on,” Harrison said of his side’s performance.
“I probably think we had a stronger team last year and look what happened so I’m really proud of the boys that we hung in there and kept it close and made a really good game of it in the end.”
After leading the Seagulls to seven titles in nine seasons, Harrison is stepping down as head coach but he believes the club’s future is in safe hands.
“I’ll still be a part of the club and I’m really looking forward to seeing these young blokes take the club forward now,” he said.
Toronto made a clean sweep of grand final day for the second straight year after beating Belmont 14-3 in the second grade finale.