STOKE Gabriel are guaranteed C Division West cricket next season after they trounced Whitchurch by 83 runs at the Eastley Ground to claim the league title with two games to go.
Stoke are up as champions with two games to spare as none of the chasing clubs – Plymouth, Yelverton or South Devon – can win enough games to get ahead of them.
There was little respite for the Whitchurch bowlers as Stoke trotted along to 256 for seven.
Stoke batted well in partnerships, following the example set by openers Jack Tolley (37) and Nick Gwynne (38), put on 70.
There were plenty of 30s and 40s involving Isaac Withington (22), Andy Kingdon (21) and Neil Robinson, who had eight fours and three sixes in a rapid 68 not out.
Wickets were hard to come by, although Dan Towl and Ben Hodge had a couple each.
Whitchurch gave up the chase somewhere between 55 for four and 81 for five. Best of the bits and pieces in a total of 173 for eight were Bob Powell (28), Tom Cotter (23) and David Northey (22no).
Robinson capped a man of the match performance with three for 28.
SOUTH Devon kept slender hopes of promotion alive when they defeated Plymouth 2nd XI by a whopping 125 runs.
The result is unlikely to prevent Plymouth gaining promotion behind leaders Stoke Gabriel, who are already up, but will encourage South Devon to think they can still catch Yelverton for the third place.
With two games to go for both clubs, and 40 points to play for, South Devon trail Yelverton by 17 points.
It could get interesting if South Devon beat Paignton this Saturday and Yelverton lose to self-confessed bogey side Kenn.
Mark Andrews (56) and David Knowles (52) put on 107 for South Devon’s first wicket and with Richard Beaumont (49) weighing in they reached 202 for eight.
John Kerridge (3-35) and Richard Goldsby-West (3-33) were Plymouth’s most successful bowlers.
Plymouth went off in hot pursuit with openers Geoff Martin (12) and Ollie Parsons (13) scoring 27 in the first two overs. Then it all went pear-shaped.
Skipper Steve Luffman went second ball and that was the signal for the middle order to go binary!
A succession of nones and ones followed as Plymouth collapsed to 77 all out. Kerridge hit five fours in a top score of 21.
Dinesh Raheja (3-17) took wickets up top: James Allen (3-5) winkled out the stragglers.
BARTON 2ndXI are on the way down to the E Division East following a 102-run beating in the basement battle with Plymouth CS&R.
Civil’s batsmen lit the blue touchpaper and rocketed along to 232 for seven.
Nick Read top scored with 55, Alan Smith hit 44, they put on 77, and chip-ins from Dan Winsor (29) and Nathan Bulley (22) helped the score along.
Barton, now officially relegated along with Torquay, were all out for 130 in reply.
Darren Bartrop (6-14) and Jack Dent (2-43) ran through Barton’s top order until encountering super-veteran Jim Parker, who went in at 28 for five and was ninth out at 88 for 26.
Ben Lipton (27no) kept Civil out in the field longer than they anticipated and was still there in the all-out total of 130.
TORQUAY 2ndXI will be joining Barton in the E Division West next season after their last chance of survival went out of the window in a 199-run defeat by Yelverton.
Richard Townsend’s unbeaten 103 formed the backbone of Yelverton’s total of 288 for five.
Ben Grove (37) and Townsend hoisted 72 for the second wicket after Geoff Brain went for none.
Townsend and James Reyburn (68) took the Torquay attack for 149 for the fourth wicket.
Ian Baker (2-50) was the only Torquay bowler to strike twice. Ben Passenger bowled nine overs for 17 runs.
Passenger top scored for Torquay with 35 before they were dismissed for 89.
Steve Colmer (2-22) and Dan Keylock (2-42) softened up the top order, leaving Tom Richards (4-13) to wipe out the tail.
PAIGNTON 2ndXI slipped up by 77 runs at Kenn, but are probably clear of relegation danger now.
The gap between Paignton and the third relegation place is nine points, which they should be able to pick up even if they lose their last two games.
Ed Bragg hit 94 in Kenn’s total of 206 for eight. Sam Woodcock spun away for figures of four for 29.
Woodcock then top scored with 29 not out in a disappointing Paignton total of 129 all out.
Hugh Stronge (4-28) was backed-up by James Mason (2-32) and Jack Thomas (2-36) as Paignton were bowled out.