Thistles are back in Major League

Rehan Peck of Crusaders taking a peg at first base during his side’s Major League match against Athlone Athletics. Picture: Mark Ward

MARK WARD

It might be extraordinary circumstances which led to the legendary Thistle’s return to the Cape Town Baseball Federations top echelons – but they were always ready, says chairman Garth van Eden.

While ending second in last season’s Promotion League helped, Thistle’s return to the Major League after more than a decade in the lower rungs was however fast-tracked when Maitland Giants withdrew from this seasons’ campaign after they could not field a senior team.

Thistle now joins Crusaders as the two newbies in the Major League after they ended first and second respectively in the Promotion League. Crusaders are also back after three seasons in the Promotional League.

Van Eden explained, despite the “easy passage”, his club was always ready to return to the top after going on a rebuilding phase, which saw them recruiting several young players in the juniors ranks while its senior teams were filled with graduates who came through its developmental ranks.

“I can assure you that we have worked hard to rebuild this club from bottom up. It was hard work. We saw many old stalwarts returning to the club and we are overwhelmed with a kit sponsorship which we recently received.

“I can also announce that the legendary Clint Alfino and his brother Francisco have been appointed as head coaches. This is a remarkable step in our commitment to put the club back to its rightful place as one of the top clubs in the country. Clint is a very experienced player and coach and given both Clint and Francisco’s allegiance to the clubs its is indeed a significant appointment,” said Van Eden.

Despite going down 1-6 to Durbanville Villains, the spirit is high in the camp as they prepared to host Crusaders at their Ottery headquarters this past on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Crusaders also found the going tough at the top, going down 2-8 to Athlone Athletics at Parktown last Saturday. Chandler Hine started off on the mound for Crusaders and conceded eight hits before making way to Lucien Swartz.

Nezaam Galant (4 strikeouts) shared the pitching duties with Jason and Kyle Ripepi.

Athlone Athletics pitcher Nezaam Galant. Picture: Mark Ward

Dean Groenewald clobbered a two base hit in the opening frame to score Athlone’s first two runs.

While there might be some hard work ahead for head coach Grant Robertson and his brave men from the southern suburbs, it was just good to see Crusaders and Thistle back in the top echelons to add some spice to the sport which is cautiously experiencing dwindling numbers over the past decade.

Crusaders coach Grant Robertson. Picture: Mark Ward
Crusaders pitcher Chandler Hine. Picture: Mark Ward

Other results:

Athlone Athletics 8, Crusaders 2; VOB 4 Belliville Tygers 6; Durbanville Villains 16, Thistle 1; Helderberg Pirates 0, Bothasig Knights 16