Stage set for thrilling ABL showdown
Both in terrific post-Christmas form, Adelaide Bite and Brisbane Bandits will lock horns in a best-of-three Australian Baseball League Preliminary Final starting on Friday night, with the winner progressing to the Championship Series - and a crack at glamour side Melbourne Aces for the Claxton Shield.
The Preliminary Final series will open at the magnificent new Adelaide facility on West Beach, before the teams fly to Brisbane for a Saturday game at historic Holloway Field – with a third and deciding Sunday stoush scheduled for the same venue should it be required.
Reigning Claxton Shield champion, the Bandits enter the post-season riding a wave of aggression and self-belief, although they are facing a dangerous opponent that looms as a complete package focused on atonement for previous play-off disappointments.
The best-of-three structure creates a somewhat different dynamic for both clubs, who will have the relative luxury of utilising bullpens more readily than during the regular season, when Adelaide registered the lowest pitching ERA (3.90) contrasting with Brisbane (the highest at 5.10).
Expected to start Game One for Brisbane, Justin Erasmus will be pitted against Max MacNabb, while teenager Jack O’Loughlin will take the pill for Adelaide for the Saturday game in Brisbane – when Kramer Champlin is slated for the Brisbane start.
Both sides have outstanding set-up men and closing pitchers – including Matt Williams and Loek van Mil for the Bite, Matt Timms and Ryan Searle for the Bandits.
All will need to be at their best as both clubs have offence to burn, reflected in the accumulation of 234 runs over 39 games for Brisbane (with 42 home runs and a team batting average of 0.283), while Adelaide plated 206 over 40 games, with 34 home runs and a team batting average of 0.264.
While statistics can be applied and interpreted in various ways, what we do know is that both clubs have long-ball and extra-bases capacity right through their lineups, suggesting that spectators are in for some real entertainment should the big bats on either side come to play.
The Preliminary Final series will be streamed online by ABL TV for those who are unable to make it to the ballparks in Adelaide and Brisbane. This promises to be a cracking series – between outstanding squads - with enormous entertainment value to all baseball aficionados.
Best wishes to both clubs for a tough, uncompromising and high-standard baseball series.
AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE PRELIMINARY FINAL
ADELAIDE BITE versus BRISBANE BANDITS
GAME ONE (West Beach): Friday 3 February, 7.00 ACT WATCH LIVE
GAME TWO (Holloway): Saturday 4 February, 6.00 AEST WATCH LIVE
GAME THREE (Holloway): Sunday 5 February, 1.00 AEST WATCH LIVE