United take out slug fest final
Rising Black Sox star Campbell Enoka smashed two automatic homeruns to spark Auckland United to their third national open interclub men’s softball title.
United – title winners in 1978 and 2012 – overpowered Hutt Valley Dodgers 5-2 in a sluggers final featuring six out-of-the-park home runs.
Enoka – promoted to leadoff batter with older brother Ben on the casualty list – blasted the ball over the fence in the top of the first inning and repeated the feat in the sixth frame at Christchurch’s Mizuno Ballpark on Sunday.
United head coach Duncan Enoka admitted the back-to-back dingers in the first inning gave the new champions a dream start after Dodgers had failed to score despite a double by Danny Brown and a single to Black Sox catcher Cory Timu.
‘‘For any pitcher to get two home runs hit off you [by the first two batters] is quite devastating. I felt sorry for Nik Hayes there, but he came back strong.’’ Enoka Sr said.
‘‘Once we got ahead, we set that benchmark, it gave us that buffer.
‘‘To be fair, Dodgers came trucking back but the boys maintained their composure and held out till the end.’’
The United coach paid tribute to ‘‘fired up’’ pitcher Bayley Hoani, who held Dodgers to five hits – including two automatic home runs, to Brown and Timu.
Hoani, who also pitched United to victory in the 2012 final, had ‘‘been a workhorse all week’’, sharing the pitching load with Thomas Enoka.
The Aucklanders entered the tournament on a high after winning their fifth consecutive Auckland club championship last weekend.
Coach Enoka said it had been their goal to ‘‘win the AFC first and come down and win club nats’’.
When captain Ben Enoka was unable to play the AFC final or take the diamond in Christchurch, ‘‘guys on the bench stepped up to fill the hole and certainly did their jobs’’.
Seven of the United squad were backing up from the 2012 title triumph and their could be more success on the horizon with United have the coach Enoka nothing none of his lineup had yet reached 30 – prime age for a softballer.
He has had the nucleus together for seven years and said they were ‘‘born and bred United players’’ and there were plenty more players in reserve.