Bandits, Bite in history-making ABL Championship Series
While Queensland and South Australia have both stamped an indelible mark on Australian baseball at representative level, no team from either state has won an Australian Baseball League title since the resurrection of the league six years ago.
Runner-up last time and qualifying for four of the past six play-off series, Adelaide has been starved of ABL playing success – including the ten years of the original league, when it failed to make a post-season appearance as the Adelaide Giants.
For Brisbane Bandits this will be the club’s first post-season appearance in the revamped league – reviving memories of bygone success when it snared its only Australian Baseball League title back in 1994.
These are heady, history-making times indeed for what shapes as a desperate best of three stoush between quality baseball outfits.
AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES PREVIEW
4 February 2016
BRISBANE BANDITS versus ADELAIDE BITE
GAME ONE (Holloway Field): Friday 5 February, 6.00 PM (AEST)
GAME TWO (Holloway Field): Saturday 6 February, 6.00 PM (AEST)
GAME THREE (Holloway Field): Sunday 7 February, 6.00 PM (AEST)
Last time they met – Brisbane and Adelaide haven’t met since the end of November when the pair split their series at Norwood Oval. Brisbane took the first and third games of the series, with Adelaide winning tight clashes in games two and four to help get their season back on track after a 1-7 start.
Regular season by the numbers – Adelaide finished the regular season in third place with a record of 31-25 and Brisbane clinched the minor premiership and home field advantage with a record of 37-19, a record which saw them finish six games clear of their nearest competitor. The pair met on eight occasions throughout the regular season, with the Bandits controlling the season series, winning 6-2, set up by a four game sweep in the second week of the season.
Playoff history – Adelaide are in their third ABLCS appearance from four playoff runs, having won through to the ABLCS in 2010-11 and 2014, losing to Perth in both deciders. Playoff history starts in game one for the Bandits who will face, throw and field their first playoff pitch in front of a sold out Holloway field.
Pay attention to – The composure shown by each side coming out of the gates. Adelaide have been here before and will be looking to make up for a missed opportunity last season, where they lost games two and three to the Heat. On the other side of the coin are a team who have shown all season that they never beaten.
In their two previous ABLCS outings the Bite have won the first game, before losing the second and third. If you’re a superstitious Bite fan you might want to hope for an opening night loss. Another frustrating constant for the Bite in their ABLCS appearances is that they have been blown out in both deciding clashes, losing the pair by a combined score of 19-6.
There will undoubtedly be nerves in the Bandits dugout, too. Major League experience in the dugout and on the diamond doesn’t equate to being the first side to play for a title in franchise history. The Bandits scored first in 24 games this season, going on to win 22 of those games, with both losses coming away from Holloway Field.
Prediction – Four of the five Championship Series have gone to a deciding game three, with the Canberra Cavalry’s sweep of the Perth Heat in 2012-13 the lone exception. This series has all the hallmarks of another three game epic, with both teams hungry to claim their first Claxton Shield since the inception of the revived Australian Baseball League. The Bite have the big game experience and the Bandits have been the best team all season, so this truly is going to be a series fans will be talking about for years to come.
Either Brisbane or Adelaide would be a worthy champion, but there can only be one.
The Bandits will finish their season of dominance with a 2-1 series win.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Australian Baseball Alumni extends its sincere appreciation to Xavier Player for his voluntary assistance in providing weekly previews during the course of the ABL season. We trust that his enthusiasm, reliability and the timeliness of his input will help create properly recompensed opportunities with sports journalism well into the future.