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Finding a way to win the tight ones is often what tournaments come down to.
It was certainly key for the Otago men’s softball team in Christchurch over the weekend.
The side claimed a decisive 2-1 victory over Marlborough to finish second at the Jefferies Cup, going one place better than last year.
It claimed three wins from its six games, two of the losses being against unbeaten champion Canterbury.
But it was the second match against Marlborough — its fourth match on Saturday — that proved most important.
Having lost 7-6 to the same opponent earlier in the day, it turned around to win 2-1.
Jake Burtenshaw hit a triple in the first inning and scored shortly after to give Otago the early lead.
Marlborough hit back in the second inning to tie the score.
But Ben Moody was able to score what ended up the match-winning run an inning later.
He hit a triple to put himself into scoring position, before Burtenshaw dropped a perfect bunt and Moody scampered home on a squeeze play.
Otago was unable to score from there, but it executed in the field to shut out Marlborough.
It was a key win, as the winner of the second match between any two sides that were tied at the end of the tournament would place higher.
Otago still had to beat Southland yesterday, which it did in emphatic fashion.
Its 11-4 win followed Saturday’s 4-2 win in the tournament opener, which doubled as the Bates Shield game.
Otago also pushed Canterbury in the second game between the sides.
It held the hosts scoreless until the fifth inning, before some late runs helped the hosts pull away to 7-0.
Otago coach Mark Ahlfeld said the team was happy with how it had performed, particularly to achieve its goal of a top-two placing.
He said pick-up pitcher Chris Agnew had been outstanding, as had local pitcher Mitchell Finnie.
Likewise, brothers Matt and Cam Watts had made a big difference, while Burtenshaw and Logan Herbert hit well.
Despite that, he felt it was a good all-round effort and the players adjusted well to the higher level.
Meanwhile, the Otago women had a tough weekend in the Jubilee Cup.
They were beaten in all four matches against Canterbury and Southland, the closest being a 6-0 loss to Southland.