Orange’s Mitchell Cricket Council Twenty20 Cup title defence was brought to an end in Sunday morning’s semi-final, the Bluebaggers’ hopes of winning a second consecutive trophy were snuffed out by a Matt Stephen and Josh Toole-inspired Bathurst outfit.
Stephen was magnificent with the ball at Bathurst Sportsground, taking a five-wicket haul as Orange fell for just 107 before Toole produced a swashbuckling half century at the top of Bathurst’s chase, to ensure his side progressed to the grand final against Lithgow that afternoon.
Stephen rolled through Orange’s top order on his way to 5-36 from four overs, snaring the scalps of Nathan Rosser (11), Kurt Gander (20), Ryan Kurtz (6), Josh Doherty (20) and Jack Dodds (0) to leave the Bluebaggers in dire straits at 5-59.
That became 6-70 when Mitch Winslade (4) fell to Ben Mitchell (1-18), before Nic Broes and Connor Slattery finished the job with aplomb.
Broes (3-14) picked up Wes Roweth (6) before Slattery (1-2) lured Angus Cumming (6) into a false shot to leave Orange 8-104.
It only took three more balls for Broes to bring Orange’s innings to an end by dismissing Chris Brown (30), who showed plenty of fight from number five, and then Bluebaggers skipper Daryl Kennewell (0) two balls later.
Toole didn’t muck around in the chase and although Broes fell for just three in the in the third over, Bathurst was already on 22.
Toole and Dave Sellers (15) pushed that total to 58 before the latter was dismissed, before the former linked with Ryan Peacock (32 not out) in a 36-run, third wicket stand.
When Toole was dismissed with the score at 94, the game was over. Slattery (1 not out) joined Peacock and secured the win with four overs remaining.
In the other semi-final, Lithgow (2-121) smashed the Blue Mountains (4-119).
Bathurst also claimed victory in the decider, with Toole once again playing a massive role.
He smashed 45 from just 26 balls to get the Barracudas away to a flying start after Jameel Qureshi won the toss and batted first.
Although Broes (5), Sellers (13) and Peacock (5) all fell in quick time – Bathurst went from 1-65 to 4-85 – Qureshi and Slattery righted the innings.
They put on 70 at better than a run-a-ball to push their side up to 5-163.
It looked like it wouldn’t matter for a while though, as Ben Sheehan and Dallas Tilley went ballistic at the top of the chase.
They put on 88 in not time at all before Sheehan was bowled by Luke Powell (2-30) for a 33-ball 52.
That brought reigning Royal Hotel Cup player of the year Ryan Gurney to the crease and he and Tilley looked comfortable for a short period.
Then came the crucial moment when Adam Ryan (2-21) snuck through Gurney (6), leaving the score 2-97.
That became 3-97 and then 4-98 when Joel Gurney (0) and Todd Costello (0) both fell.
Suddenly, Bathurst was on top.
Even more so when Tilley (39) was sent packing with the score at 117, an advantage the home side rammed home after that.
Andrew Fawbert (24) tried to mount an unlikely fightback but it was to no avail as he, Sam Cameron (3), and Mick Hutchinson (6) were all dismissed late.
Lithgow finished at 8-144, 19 runs short.