WEST BEACH - West Torrens survived some shaky defense as they kicked off the SABL Championship Series in style, claiming a 3-2 walk-off win over Port Adelaide in 11 innings at Diamond Sports.
A hit down the middle to Ryan Muggleton just beat the glove of a surging Patrick Inglis and Tom Fiebig feasted on the space, chasing down the winning run from third for the win.
"We got off to a good start with the first run but obviously a couple of errors," Muggleton said.
"The pitchers on the hill threw extremely well and kept us in it. When we scored in the eighth that kept us in it and Nate [Nathan van der Linden] with the squeeze play... far out, happy to win."
Early momentum went the way of Port Adelaide as Yusuke Inoguchi collected the game's opening hit, but some flashy reflexes by West Torrens pitcher, Arik Sikula, ensured there would be no easy base hits.
West Torrens nearly had the lead in the second as Ryan Muggleton mashed a two-run home run - however he was called back rounding second as the umpire decided it was just left of the left-field foul post.
They made amends for the call, though, with James Henty smacking a lead-off single and working his way to third on some great team hitting. Jakub Vojak had the decisive blow, with an RBI groundout helping Henty cross the plate.
Highlights came thick and fast as Brodie Arriola slid into third for a fantastic double for Port, while Dylan Brammer's lead-off hit in the sixth sparked a Magpie assault.
On a hard hit to Yusuke Inoguchi, Port had their opening run as Nico van der Linden bobbled a catch before chasing the ball to the centrefield fence. Brammer scored on the error but a strong throw by the Eagle ensured Carter was tagged out by Jordan McArdle at home.
The hits kept coming for the Magpies and in the blink of an eye they had the lead through a RBI single to Luke Rackebrandt.
Down 2-1, Jordan McArdle tried to get the upperhand against Bite teammate Jack O'Loughlin, but the Magpie was having none of it, picking off McArdle at second.
With O'Loughlin notching nine strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings, Sikula looked second best despite his strong defense, but a crucial strikeout in the eighth ensured Port could not add to their 2-1 lead.
Capitalising on a wild throw and some speedy base running, Port had runners at the corners in the eighth through Carter and Inoguchi and West Torrens looked nervous. However, Sikula snagged a crucial strikeout and with a bit of luck they kept it at 2-1.
The Eagles jumped onto the Magpies soon after with Fiebig crushing a RBI double to right field to level it up at 2-2 with an inning to play - although extras were never out of the question.
Player/coach for Port, Chris Sims, threatened to grab a late lead for Port as West Torrens struggled in the field but they held their nerve long enough to keep the Magpies at bay with some clinical pitching, with Muggleton praising pitchers on both sides.
"Both pitchers dealt, and hat off to Jack O'Loughlin who's heading off, and a great effort by both," he said, "It's good to get a 3-2 game in the grand final for game one."
The two sides exchanged late heroics as Todd Langman and Vojak pulled off superb catches but with the game moving closer to the 12th, one side needed to make a claim for victory.
With Nathan van der Linden (W) pitching three scoreless innings, the likes of Fiebig and Torey Williams combined on a great day and after his earlier home run was called foul, Muggleton ensured he made an impact with the walk-off RBI single.
"It's been a massive effort by all of us for the year," Muggleton said.
"They say that we're the squad because we've got A-Grade and B-Grade in it [Grand Finals] and it's a credit to everybody. We all did our job and got it done, very happy to be going ahead 1-0."
Game Two of the SABL Championship Series is Saturday night at 6PM with West Torrens one win from their first title in a decade.