Grand final in sight: Ipswich team's terrific record
LOYAL Ipswich Musketeers baseballer Josh Roberts has been around sport long enough to know what makes a winning combination.
He's confident Ipswich has another one heading into tonight's best-of-three semi-final series opener against the Redcliffe Padres at Tivoli.
During his 15 years serving Ipswich with trademark determination and never-give-up spirit, Roberts can't recall a Brisbane competition season where Musketeers have finished so strongly.
From 42 Greater Brisbane League preliminary games, Musketeers have 31 wins and 11 losses, wrapping up top spot well before last weekend's final round.
"For as long as I've been playing, that's the best record I've had,'' Roberts said.
The Musketeers cruised comfortably through last weekend's series, beating the second-placed Padres 3-2 in both games.
"It didn't really matter for us and at the end it didn't matter for Redcliffe either because the other games got washed out,'' Roberts said.
However, tonight's encounter signals the start of the serious part of the competition.
"Last week we just took it nice and easy, just get everyone ready for the finals,'' the proud Ipswich sportsman said.
"Everyone is as good as gold and ready to go this week.''
With Musketeers securing a welcome boost of extra overseas pitching talent, Roberts has been focusing on catching this season.
He's backing Canadian left-hander Fernandez Beltran to build some winning momentum in tonight's game.
Swedish recruit Pontus Bystrom is expected to pitch in Sunday's second game of the series.
Roberts said having premiership-winning Bandits duo Andrew Campbell and Wade Dutton back making valuable contributions provided the quality Ipswich needed to continue its winning run.
"We've had a good mix of local talent and we've brought in guys from overseas,'' Roberts said.
"When Wade and Soup (Campbell) were playing Bandits, we needed two guys to fill in for us and we've probably had a bit of depth this year.
"Those guys have come in and helped us out so that's probably where we went on our bit of a run when Soup and Wade came back.''
The team's leader praised players like former A-Grader Matt Allan and Steve Greer for helping out when the Bandits players were on national league duty.
Although renowned for his all-round skills, Roberts was happy to catch since Christmas. He hoped that added to the team's stability, especially with extra firepower coming from the mound.
"We just decided that was probably best for the team,'' he said. "The same person is catching each week. That helps us out.''
As for Redcliffe, Roberts rated them "young, energetic and they know how to play''.
"It's just about us doing what we can do on the day,'' he said.
Making the GBL grand final would give Ipswich a chance to win its first premiership since 2001.
Despite many close calls in recent seasons, ending the drought is something senior players like Roberts are anxious to play a role in.
"We're pretty confident,'' Roberts said.
"We always like to think that we can beat anyone on our day and this year is no different.''
Roberts said the recent rain helped the fields at Musketeers home base in Church Street, Tivoli.
The Musketeers Old Boys and Supporters Day washed out last weekend has been rescheduled for Sunday.
GBL semi-final series: Ipswich Musketeers (1) v Redcliffe Padres (2) at the Tivoli Sporting Complex.
Game one: Tonight (7pm). Game two: Sunday (1.30pm). Game three: Tuesday night if required.
Season record (42 games): Musketeers - 31 wins, 11 losses, 282 runs for, 157 runs against (0.738).
Redcliffe (finished second on countback): 26 wins, 16 losses, 262 runs for, 208 runs against (0.619).
Other semi-final: Windsor (3) v Redlands (4).