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Imposing Bandits nail Claxton Shield in two



Image:   MLB

Kingsley Collins

6 February 2016


Undisputed benchmark of Australian Baseball League since the early rounds, Brisbane Bandits capped an outstanding season by securing the Claxton Shield with a straight sets Championship Series win over Adelaide Bite at Holloway Field.


While the Bite was an eminently worthy opponent with a competitive record in the six years of the reborn league, it was unable to match the pitching depth and hitting firepower of a Brisbane outfit that won its first ABL title in twenty-two years – and broke a Claxton Shield drought dating back to 2006, when the state was represented as Queensland Rams.


Blasting three in the third in support of starting ace Travis Blackley, the Bandits were never seriously threatened along the way to posting a 7-1 Game Two result over the Bite.  






Despite a couple of early infield defensive miscues, former Major Leaguer Travis Blackley lived up to expectations with a quality start for the Bandits, while Steven Chambers settled into his work for Adelaide after tossing more pitches in the first than he would have liked.


Two-out singles to Travis Demeritte and Kyle Petty gave the Bite a chance in the top of three before Blackley whiffed Stefan Welch and the Bandits offence sprang to life in the equaliser, when Donald Lutz celebrated his twenty-seventh birthday by cracking a three-run homer over rightfield after Riley Unroe and Justin Williams both hit safely.


With his side clearly bent on appointments other than a third-game shootout on Sunday, Blackley appeared undeterred by a brief rain delay, while Chambers conceded a hit to David Sutherland and a one-out walk to Ryan Battaglia before Sutherland scooted home on a throwing error to make it four-zip for the home team.


Logan Wade doubled for Brisbane in the bottom of five to spell the end for Chambers, who had a magnificent season and was solid again tonight – with six strikeouts counterbalanced by the damaging Lutz blow – before handing the pill to Nick Talbot.


A throwing error allowed Wade to score, although the Bite responded emphatically when Kyle Petty despatched Blackley over the leftfield wall to lead off the sixth.


Replacing Talbot in the bottom of the frame, Loek van Mil conceded singles to Battaglia and Andrew Campbell to post runners at the corners with one out before Battaglia charged home on a wild pitch and Wade stroked another RBI single as the Bandits shortened even further for the coveted Claxton Shield title.


Called from the pen to replace winning pitcher Blackley – who had been superb over six innings for six hits, six strike outs, a walk and a solitary earned run – Matt Timms breezed through the seventh and eighth before Ryan Searle was accorded the appropriate task of closing out the game, a role that he has managed in an extraordinarily successful manner of late.


In raw hitting statistics there was very little in this game - with Lutz and Wade doing the offensive damage for Brisbane as both clubs stranded a welter of runners on base and both committed defensive errors under extreme pressure.  


Congratulations to the Brisbane Bandits club, which enjoyed a stellar season both on and off-field – evidenced by the consistently high attendances at games and the generation of enthusiastic sponsorship, community and online engagement.


The winning squad had few if any perceptible weaknesses and was blessed with quality starting pitching, efficient relievers and lights-out closers, with a great defensive capacity and offensive firepower from one through nine in virtually every game. The Bandits were a tough side for any club in this league to beat – and kudos to the Adelaide Bite for creating the contest that it did.






















Bandits a game adrift of Championship glory

Kingsley Collins

5 February 2016


Brisbane Bandits are within one win of their first Australian Baseball League title in over twenty years after surviving a spirited comeback by Adelaide Bite in the opening stanza of the Championship Series played at Holloway Field this evening.


A four-run outburst in the third was the catalyst for the 7-4 Bandits win, although Adelaide took it right up to the series favourite with a three-spot in the fifth but would be ruing their failure to capitalise on a number of unrequited scoring opportunities against a side that made some scintillating plays in a great defensive game.


With another thrilling and possibly decisive contest in prospect, the Championship Series will resume on Saturday, starting at 6.00 PM AEST. 




Sent to the hill in overcast conditions for Game One, Brisbane starter Jason Jarvis was under the pump early, when form hitter Travis Demeritte doubled and Kyle Petty stroked a single before Stefan Welch and Tom Brice both struck out in the top of the first.


A revelation for the Bite this season, Josh Tols was taken deep by Bralin Jackson to hand the home side an early lead as Jarvis settled into his work and Tols escaped an awkward situation in the bottom of the second.


Stretching Jarvis into the count for a second time, Stefan Welch squared the ledger – with two out - by smacking a double that scored Petty after the Bite centrefielder had struck his second hit of the game.


Jackson walked in the bottom of three, advanced on a grounder and a passed ball before trotting home as Donald Lutz blasted a triple into rightfield followed by a Mitch Nilsson run-scoring double, a Logan Wade single and a David Sutherland walk that loaded the bases with one out – to set the table for TJ Bennett, who dutifully delivered with a two-run single to give Brisbane a four-run break that spelled the end for Tols rather earlier than the Bite would have hoped.


It was the decisive offensive assault of the game – although Adelaide was not about to lay down.


While Adelaide again landed runners on base in the fourth, its hitters were unable to convert as Jarvis remained in command until the top of five – when the game took a sudden turn in the Bite’s favour. Stefan Welch and Tom Brice both singled – with two out – and Angus Roeger again made it a contest with a three-run bomb over the rightfield wall.


Relieving Tols, Australian national representative Matt Williams proceeded to mow down the Brisbane hitters, while the Bandits called on Taylor Stanton in relief of Jarvis after five innings for nine hits, seven punchouts and four earned runs.


Brisbane extended its skinny lead in the bottom of six when Bennett blasted a solo home run and his club called on Eric Green, who conceded a hit to Petty – his third – and a walk to Welch before Roeger’s stellar evening with the bat turned sour as he hit into an infield double play.


While Hei Chun Lee held the Bandits scoreless through the seventh, the Bandits scored an insurance run – on a throwing error in the eighth – and the Bite were unable to make further inroads as Matt Timms tossed a scoreless frame before consummate closer Ryan Searle sealed the deal for Brisbane by whiffing all three hitters he faced in the last.


Offering grand support to winning pitcher Jarvis, Bennett (two hits, including a home run, for three RBIs), Lutz (two and one), Jackson (home run) and Wade (two hits) were outstanding in offence for Brisbane, while Roeger (three and three, with a home run), Petty (three hits) and Welch (two and one) kept the Bite in the game.


Now at short odds to snare a history-making Australian Baseball League title, Brisbane will face a never-say-die Adelaide outfit that will be throwing everything at the Saturday night contest to remain in contention for its first ever ABL Championship success.



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