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South Australia stay perfect after gritty walk-off win over Victoria
05/01/2018 1:18 AM ET
 (Laura Bond)

South Australia are on the verge of the finals at the Australian School Championships after a gritty 5-4 walk-off win over Victoria.

South Australia's first two wins - a 9-0 win over Queensland and 5-0 win over New South Wales - were fairly cruisey. This game was anything but. Victoria kept clawing back into the contest and even threatened to take the lead in the ninth inning.

But it was South Australia's Jasper Clark who delivered a bases-loaded fielder's choice walk off win with one out in the bottom of the seventh. He chopped a ball to short stop who flipped it to second. They threw it to first but Jasper ran hard down the line and beat out the throw.

Safe by under a foot. A win for South Australia by the skin of their teeth.

"We just did enough," said third baseman Sean Maple after the game. "Victoria is a pretty good team and gave us everything they had. We just had enough."

South Australia may not have had a chance for a walk off win if it weren't for two stellar defensive plays from Maple. 

"I just sort of saw the top spin on it, got ready, ran back, reached out and got lucky the ball was in my glove," he says.

Victoria had bases loaded and one out with Riley Light at the plate. Light blooped one in foul territory above Maple's head, who turned around, tracked it down and leaped out with a fantastic diving catch. 

That was the second potential game-saving play Maple made. The other was with the score tied 2-2 in the fifth, with one out, and runners on first and second. 

Victoria hit a hard ground ball to third. Maple scooped it up, charged to the base, stepped on the bag and zipped it across the diamond for a momentum swinging double play.

South Australia responded in the bottom half of that inning with two runs - one from a wild pitch, and the other from a Brock Keding RBI single - to grab a 4-2 lead.

It was never easy and not necessarily pretty for South Australia but a win is a win. 

Adelaide Bite rookie of the year Curtis Mead had another big day. Across two games on Tuesday Mead went 4/7 with two triples, a walk, two runs, an RBI and four stolen bases.

Two of his runs in this game were scored off heads-up base running, cashing in off two Victorian wild pitches.

South Australia put up two runs in the first inning before Victoria struck back in the fourth with back-to-back-to-back hits off starter Jack Higginbotham to score two of their own. Those were the first runs South Australia had allowed all tournament.

Higginbotham was solid on the mound. He allowed two runs off four hits through five innings. 

South Australia scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth - right after Maple's heads up defensive double play - and held a 4-2 lead until the top of the seventh.

Victoria led off the seventh with two straight hits off Jasper Clark and worked their way to a bases loaded situation. A base hit scored one and a bases-loaded walk scored the other.

It was tense. It was wild. But South Australia came up on top. 

The victory makes it nearly impossible for the host team to miss out on a Top 3 finish and guaranteed spot in a preliminary final. 

The only way they can miss now is if South Australia loses to both ACT and Western Australia tomorrow, Victoria beats New South Wales in their final game and Western Australia beat both South Australia plus ACT but lose to Queensland. Then run differential would come into play.

South Australia is all but in.

STANDINGS - MIDWAY THROUGH DAY 2

1. South Australia 3-0
2. New South Wales 3-1
3. Victoria 2-2
4. Western Australia 2-1
5. Queensland 0-3
6. ACT 0-3

DAY THREE SCHEDULE

8:45AM - South Australia vs. Western Australia, West Beach
11:30AM - South Australia vs. ACT

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.