Hastings and St Leonards are all but promoted following a win over St James’s Montefiore on Saturday.
But it was not all plain-sailing for Tom Gillespie’s men as they recovered from 22-4 to win by 17 runs.
Ricardo De Nobrega was the star with the bat for Hastings, hitting 52 from 92 balls as held the innings tobether until he was the seventh man out.
Lower order support came from Brad Smith (16), Alex Coyle (17), John Morgan (26) and Jed O’Brien (22 not out). They helped get the score up to 170 all out from 44 overs.
Jordan Shaw (3-25), Sam Rattle (3-23) and Henry Cope (3-34) did the damage with the ball for St James’s.
But the St James’s top order also struggled the formidable Hastings bowling unit took wickets at regular intervals to keep St James’s in check.#
John Morgan (3-23), Adam Barton (2-26), Jed Obrien (2-33) and Elliott Hooper (3-26) all produced the goods and reduced St James’s to 123-9.
But Bertie Foreman (37 not out) and Rattle (16) gave Hastings a scare as they put on 30 for the last wicket.
However Hooper bowled Rattle in the final over to dismiss the opposition out for 153 and put Hastings firmly in the driving seat of promotion and the league title.
Hastings skipper Gillespie said: “Yes I was very glad to win the game especially after being 22-4 and the mood being quite down.
“Honestly both sides had pretty bad starts with the bat so you’d have to say Ricardo's 50 and the lower middle orders contribution to our innings.”
Hastings are now21 points clear in the promotion race and it would take something quite disastrous for them not to make a quick return to the Premier Division.
Gillespie said: “I think we need to be ruthless in getting the 10 bonus points.
“We were disappointed not to against St. James but 10 points means we win the league which would be a great achievement.
“We don’t really want the pressure of clawing back in the second innings so to get it done with 10 wickets or 200 runs would be amazing.
Gillespie’s men have a trip to already-relegated Ifield to try and grab those points to win the league.
Hastings and St Leonards 2nd XI have been relegated to Division 4 West after only winning two of their 17 matches this season. The latest defeat was to Portslade despite having the opposition 60-6. They recovered to make 234 all out.
Daniel Pascal (3-50) and Ahsan Toqeer (3-24) were the pick of the bowlers. In reply, Hastings were dismissed for 107.