DEVON Under-11s were pipped by three points for the winner’s shield in their pool at the ESCA Festival.
The week-long festival at King’s, Taunton started with a seven-wicket win over Leicestershire with two overs to spare.
Leicestershire batted solidly to post a total of 145-5 in their 40 overs.
Stand out bowlers for Devon were pace bowler George Tapley (3-31) and off-spinner Fin Hill (2-18).
Devon suffered an early setback when Julian Hayter (6) was dismissed on unlucky 13.
Hill and Harry Southgate they compiled a 72-run partnership. With the score on 85, Southgate was bowled for 23.
Hill (58no) continued to complete partnerships of 35 with Harry Mount (9) and a match-winning partnership of 29 with Will Maunder (19 no).
It was played two, won both and top of the table for Devon after Cornwall’s Under-12 Development side were beaten by 214 runs.
Devon started briskly against a wayward bowling attack and continued at a pace to set an imposing 283-6 off 45 overs.
Highlights included Southgate’s 68 (93 balls), Hill’s 46, Maunder with 29 not out off 31 balls) and Harry Williams with a run-a-ball 24. Devon's total was boosted by 76 extras.
The Cornwall batters never got into the game and it was just a matter of the bowling unit being able to work their way through the batting line up.
At 49-9 it looked like a below-50 score was likely, but the last pair added 20 take their score to 69.
There were quality bowling performances from pacemen Will Popham (3-10), Jonathan Triner (2-4) and leg-spinner Surya Suresh (2-15).
The game against Kent on day three ended in Devon holding on for a draw. Kent made 160 for nine in their 45 overs. Stand-out moments for Devon included run-outs by Rohan Cross and Julian Hayter and Harry Southgate taking 3-23 in a rare bowling appearance.
Devon were never really in the hurt for a victory, especially when losing five wickets for only 27 to quality leg spin in the closing overs.
Only Southgate kept the scoreboard ticking over with a hard-fought 57 off 106 balls.
It was left to the tail to block out the six overs to finish on 117-9 to secure a losing draw to ensure Devon did not lose too much ground on the leaders.
Lancashire, unexpectedly beaten by Leicestershire the previous day, were bowled out by Devon for 127 – a much-improved display and worth two bonus points.
Left-arm pacemen Ben Kay returned figures of 2-12 off 8 overs and leg-spinner Surya Suresh chipped in with 2-23.
Devon knew they had to start well, but things didn't go to plan against a miserly Lancashire attack.
Devon were 30-2 off 20 overs at drinks and despite upping the tempo finished 17 runs short of victory and had to settle for another losing draw. Top scorer was Hill with 25.
To win the shield Devon had to beat Cheshire in their final game and hope Kent and Lancashire both slipped up.
Devon won by 44 runs, but there were no slips for Kent of Lancashire.
Although opener Morgan Couch missed out, Devon made it to 158 for three before the overs ran out.
Southgate and Hill compiled a stand of 125 for the second wicket before Hill was run out for 41. Southgate continued to his his third half-century of the week.
Southgate was finally out for 78 (121 balls) with the score at 134. Williams and Maunder put on another 24 at run-a-ball pace.
Cheshire struggled to 34-4 just after the first drinks break against tight bowling and fielding.
The scoreboard started to tick over a little too fast for Devon's liking in the middle session.
The final session bought a demolition job by Tapley (3-9) and Will Popham (3-23) as the pacemen ran through the lower order to bowl Cheshire out for 114.
The final standings left Devon third on 65 points behind Lancashire (67) and winners Kent on (68).
Southgate was presented with Devon's player-of the-week award after amassing 238 runs, including three half-centuries.
Martin Brice, the team manager, said despite missing out on the title the festival had been a success for Devon.
“The boys going undefeated, rightly reflected how doing the basics well can lead to a very rewarding competition performance,” said Brice.