Northern Suburbs all-round Lincoln Mills delivered a scintillating opening four-over spell to claim 6-10 and secure an important nine-wicket victory for the Hunter Hitmen against Central Rush at Lorn Park.
The Hitmen lost just one wicket in reaching the target in 14.2 overs with No.3 Josh Trappel top scoring with 49 and opener Josh Tuckwell scoring 18.
Mills aggravated a shoulder injury in a fielding mishap but said he expected to be fit to bowl this afternoon.
The victory sets up an exhilarating finish to the four-way Regional Big Bash Twenty20 series with three teams all able to advance as winner from the round-robin qualifiers.
The Hitmen face arch rivals Newcastle Blasters at Robins Oval from 1.30pm, while Illawarra Flames and Central Coast do battle at Lorn Park.
Newcastle finished with a flurry to finish on 4/208 against Illawarra in their morning match at Robins Oval.
Jed Dickson top scored for the Blasters making an unbeaten 79 off 41 balls, Dylan J Hunter smashed 44 off 22.
After slumping to 5-30, Illawarra were unable to get back into the match and were restricted to 7/84 off their 20 overs.
Officials are hopeful all four Regional Big Bash Twenty20 matches will proceed in Maitland on Sunday.
Sunday morning’s game at Robins Oval between the Newcastle Blasters and Illawarra Flames started as scheduled at 9am and umpires had given the all-clear for play between the Hunter Hitmen and Central Coast Rush at Lorn Park at the delayed time of 10am.
Saturday’s game between Newcastle and Central Coast at Lorn Park was abandoned, while the Flames won a rain-shortened clash against the Hitmen at Robins Oval.
The Hunter Hitmen lost a rain-shortened Regional Big Bash Twenty20 clash against Illawarra Flames at Robins Oval on Saturday.
Play was abandoned before a ball was bowled in Saturday’s other game between Newcastle Blasters and Central Coast Rush at Lorn Park.
Ironically the two games scheduled for Lorn Park on Sunday – Hunter v Central Coast and Central Coast v Illawarra – may be the only fixtures able to proceed, with the pitch area at Robins Oval copping a fair bit of rain during Saturday’s game
The Hitmen were all out for 132 on the last ball of their 20 overs. When rain finally halted play in the 14th over the Flames were 4/103 and well ahead of the required run-rate under the Duckworth Lewis system.
Opener Matthew Salakas launched the Flames run chase scoring 40 off 32 balls, including five fours on a damp outfield.
Jarrod Colliss scored 27 off 18 balls. His innings included four fours and a massive six.
Lincoln Mills made an early break-through for the Hitmen having Kieren Richards caught for 11, with the score on 19.
But the Hitmen were unable to secure their next wicket until the score was 72 when Callum Gabriel held a juggling catch at long-on off the bowling of Tim Harding.
Harding also had Salakas caught behind by keeper Luke Stewart to finish with 2-27.
Josh Trappel collected the other wicket for the Hitmen clean bowling Toby Dodds for 11 shortly before play was halted.
Earlier in the day Trappel had threatened to tear the game apart with big-hitting but Chris Macnamarra eventually tempted him into one big shot too many and he was caught on the midwicket boundary for 34 off 31 balls.
Macnamara followed his success immediately with the dismissal of Luke Stewart who was stumped after trying to charge down the pitch to smash the ball and missing it
Tom Davey had made the initial breakthrough claiming the wickets of openers Josh Geary (12) and Josh Tuckwell (17). He took the final two wickets to finish with the excellent figure of 4-10.
Jarrod Colliss was on a hat-trick after having Jacob Montgomery (20 off 14) and Lincoln Mill (0) both caught.
He halted the Hitmen’s chances of posting a 150-plus score when he had the in-form Aaron Mahony caught for 16 off 13 balls, to finish with 3-20.