By Mark Heenan
Ocean Grove suffered an agonising one-wicket defeat to Portarlington in their Round 9 A1 Grade clash at Ron Evans Oval on Saturday.
Despite the loss, the Grubbers (42 points) maintained top place ahead of Anglesea and Barwon Heads, both on 39 points.
Needing five runs off the final over, the Demons achieved victory with three balls to spare to finish at 9/201 from 39.3 overs after Ocean Grove compiled a competitive total of 6/200 from its 40 overs.
Ocean Grove got off to an ideal start, winning the toss and batting first with a 93-run opening stand between Huon Bertino (55) and stand-in captain Andre Scholtz (46).
“We made 200 which we thought was defendable,” Bertino told the Voice.
“Credit to Port, they produced a great chase.”
It was the Grubbers’ best start to an innings this season following a series of top-order batting collapses in their previous eight outings.
Bertino, who notched up his third half century in 2018/19, scored back-to-back 50s after his 59 against Barrabool on 22 December.
Michael Kenneady continued his mid-season purple patch with a fine 30 after he scored centuries in Round 7 and Round 8.
Portarlington new-ball bowlers Blake Robbin (1/20), who scored the winning runs with the bat, and star performer Paul McGrath (1/25) bowled economically from their eight overs.
In reply, McGrath (55) registered his third half-century in 2018/19, while Darren Duff scored 50.
Lindon Giuffrida was his side’s leading wicket-taker with 3/23 from his 6.3 overs.
Scholtz (2/46) grabbed the vital wickets of McGrath and Duff.
Ocean Grove A1 defeated Barrabool by three wickets on 22 December before the Christmas New year break.
The Grubbers now face Barwon Heads in a crucial Battle of the Bridge one-day clash at Ray Menzies Memorial Oval at home this Saturday.
OCEAN Grove A2 went down to Little River by 28 runs at Ray Menzies Memorial Oval.
Batting first Ocean Grove had the visitors in dire straits at 3/2 before a 78-run seventh-wicket partnership from Matthew Richmond (42) and Vikas Dhringra helped rescued the Rebacks.
Little River was out for 177 from 38.2 overs.
Grubber pair Billy Foord Engelsman (3/30) and Ben Hanson (3/39) each took three wickets, while Nick Lewis (2/41) picked up two scalps in his first game at Ocean Grove in five seasons.
In reply Ocean Grove was all out for 149.
IN B2, Little River defeated Ocean Grove by four wickets at Little River Reserve.
Batting first the Grubbers were dismissed for 107 from 39.5 overs.
Little River won with two overs to spare after finishing at 6/108 from 38 overs. Darren Craig made 40 and Josh Kuipers took 2/19.