COUGARS baseball club has come one step closer to achieving its ultimate goal of winning both the Tamworth Baseball Association's A and B grade championships.
The Cougars proved too strong for the Armidale Outlaws in both grades during Saturday's major semi-finals, recording two massive victories.
In A grade, Armidale got out to an early 2-0 lead in the first innings, off the back of a Cougars error and a Brad Smith double.
However, hits to Brian Hopton and Kirby McIntosh helped Cougars level the scores in the second inning.
A change of pitcher for Outlaws saw the Cougars extend their lead to 5-2 after the fourth innings.
Outlaws then fought back in the fifth innings to level the scores again off the back of a double to Cam Beat and a hit to Brad Smith.
Cougars quickly reclaimed their lead when two walked batters were all run in by hits from Kris Bird and Andrew Ferris to take a 10-5 lead at the bottom of the fifth.
Outlaws fought hard again in the sixth inning with a series of Cougars errors costing 3 runs.
However, some strong hitting from the Cougars' top order of Brock Ridgewell, Scott Hurn and Bird ensured the Cougars ran out 11-8 winners. In B grade, Cougars went into the match as the underdogs having not defeated the Outlaws during the season, despite some very close matches.
Despite their regular season record, the Cougars put on a dominant display to claim a mercy-rule victory with the score at 12-1.
Meanwhile in the A grade minor semi-final, a gigantic upset loomed in the clash between Gunnedah and the Tamworth Warriors.
Warriors didn't wrest the lead from Gunnedah until the bottom of the third innings, before closing out the game 16-10.
Despite only recording a couple of wins through the regular season, the Giants put the Warriors on the back foot, racing to a 7-5 lead after two frames thanks to some crisp batting from Adrian Sipple and Jason Rose.
The experience of James Ardill and Andy Bello helped the Warriors back into game and a series of walks issued by Giants' starter Aaron Edgecock put the blue crew in the box seat with a seven-run third inning.
Warriors defence was sharp, highlighted by a near horizontal grab by Bello at short stop, and only allowed three more runs for the game.
Warriors' B graders will be full of confidence heading into next week's preliminary final against Armidale after a dominant 16-5 victory against the Pandas.
The Warriors will play the Outlaws in both grades on Saturday for a place in the grand final on September 21.