Australian Baseball League Preliminary Final 2017
Imperious Bandits rout Bite to clinch championship berth
5 February 2017
Guided by a superb seven-innings outing from Rick Teasley and regular, timely long-ball hitting, Brisbane Bandits posted an 18-2 win over a valiant Adelaide Bite to qualify for the Australian Baseball League Championship Series at Melbourne Ballpark next weekend.
Although both offences were held in check over the early innings, it was an authoritative all-round performance by the Bandits against a valiant Bite outfit that was unable to replicate the powerful resurgence of its Saturday win that gave the visitors great heart.
Now at the top of its form – with twelve wins from its last fifteen games - Brisbane has built serious momentum and looms as a real threat for back-to-back Claxton Shield titles against a Melbourne Aces club that has made the running all season.
Pitted against former Queenslander Steve Chambers, Bandits starter Rick Teasley breezed through the first, while Aaron Whitefield was held at first after his lead-off double for Brisbane.
Hitting safely for Adelaide in the top of the second, Marcus Greene scooted to third on a throwing error, only to be stranded as Teasley whiffed Stefan Welch, Angus Roger and Jordan McArdle in order and both pitchers continued to give nothing away in an already intense contest.
Continuing to rack up the strike outs – for eight of the first twelve outs – Teasley was offered run support in the bottom of four, when Trent Oeltjen sent a laser over the rightfield wall and Mitch Nilsson followed up with a single that amounted to naught as Chambers escaped the innings with a flyball, a pop-up and a strikeout.
Thus far strangled by Teasley, the Bite responded to the challenge when Stefan Welch drove a fastball deep in the top of five before seasoned southpaw Hei Chun Lee was called from the pen with scores deadlocked into the bottom of five – when Thomas Milone stroked a lead-off single and was cut down on an infield double play.
With his side not yet done, Brisbane back-up catcher Ryan Battaglia blasted a two-out home run over leftfield to restore the narrow lead, although the Bite squandered an opportunity in the top of six, when LeDarious Clark was caught between second and third and danger man Mitch Dening flied out with a runner at second.
Taking the ball for Adelaide in the equaliser, national team regular Matt Williams conceded a lead-off single to Nilsson and a David Rodriguez double that put runners at the corners with none out. Logan Wade singled to score Nilsson before Kevin Padlo hit safely to score a second for the innings – still with none out.
David Sutherland tugged a single into rightfield to load the bases with one out and the Bite called on sidewinder Tyler Chappell in a tough situation that he managed comfortably by fanning Battaglia and Whitefield to hold the Bandits lead to a modest three that gave little indication of the scoring carnage to come.
Calling on Greg Mosel – with their season on the line – Adelaide found the task suddenly more difficult when Logan Wade swatted a two run shot over right-centre and Battaglia crushed a grand slam off Nathan VanDerLinden for an insurmountable nine-run lead after seven.
Relieving Teasley after a superb seven innings for nine strikeouts, three hits and one earned run, Sam Holland was taken for a solo home run by Jordan McArdle - a blow that drew immediate retaliation from Nilsson and Rodriguez, who blasted back-to-back shots – for a total of seven round-trippers by Brisbane for the game thus far.
The offensive assault continued – morphing into an avalanche when Nilsson, who had led off with a bomb, belted a three run shot that bloated the Brisbane lead to staggering proportions before Matt Timms mercifully closed out the game 18-2 in favour of the Bandits.
Although the Teasley outing against a tough Bite side will long be remembered, so too will a Bandits offensive explosion that saw nine players contribute to a 23-knock hit parade – generated largely by Nilsson (four hits – including two home runs – for four RBIs), Battaglia (two homers for five RBIs), Rodriguez (three hits, including a home run), Oeltjen (home run and three RBIs) and Wade (home run among his three hits for three RBIs), while Greene, Welch and McArdle were best of a Bite offence that was seriously outgunned in this contest.
Brisbane Bandits will meet Melbourne Aces in the best of three Championship Series starting at Melbourne Ballpark on Friday evening.
Desperate Bite forces the series to Sunday
4 February 2017
Heading to Brisbane under the pump after a loss at home on Friday night, Adelaide demonstrated real character – and a wealth of talent – by downing Brisbane 8-4 in twelve innings to force the Australian Baseball League Preliminary Final series to a deciding clash at Holloway Field on Sunday.
With both clubs scoring early, this developed into an intense and engaging contest that produced outstanding pitching outings, some silky defence and genuinely committed baseball by both sides in front of an appreciative and engaged crowd.
It was a battle of attrition that bodes well for another stirring contest on Sunday to determine which of two worthy teams will qualify for the Championship Series at Melbourne Ballpark next week.
Needing to win this one to keep its Australian Baseball League season alive, Adelaide exploded in the first, taking Kramer Champlin for three – compliments of an RBI-double by Jordan Cowan and a two-run blast off the bat of Marcus Greene.
While Mitch Nilsson singled to drive in a run in the equaliser, the Bandits put it to Bite tyro Jack O’Loughlin with back-to-back round trippers by Wade Dutton and Aaron Whitefield in the bottom of the second in superb hitting conditions at Holloway Field.
Kevin Padlo drew a lead-off walk for Brisbane in the bottom of four but was left high and dry before Josh Altmann gave the Bite a chance when he hit safely to lead off the fifth and Cowan poked a hit into leftfield to spell the end for Champlin as Ryan Rowland-Smith was summoned from the pen with two out to retire the dangerous Mitch Dening.
Relieving O’Loughlin after four innings for three earned runs, Greg Mosel was placed under the pump when a muffed grounder allowed Whitefield to reach second before advancing on a Trent Oeltjen flyball and scoring on a Mitch Nilsson grounder to the right side as the Bandits edged to a lead.
Generating serious movement, Zac Treece breezed through the top of six for the Bandits, while Hei Chun Lee took the pill from Mosel to retire left-hander David Sutherland after Thomas Milone hit safely with two out in the bottom of the sixth.
With a minimal lead to the Bandits and both clubs wringing situational pitching changes, the Bite tied up the contest in the top of seven – when Altmann singled, advanced on a grounder and scored the tying run when LeDarious Clark drove a single up the middle.
Calling on power arm Loek van Mil, Adelaide conceded a one-out double to Whitefield before the big man retired Oeltjen and Mitch Nilsson to escape a tricky situation with scoring opportunities running out for both clubs as scores remained deadlocked.
Bandits sidewinder Sam Holland walked Dening in the top of eight before whiffing danger men in Marcus Greene and Angus Roeger as the heart of the Bite order failed to deliver after being allowed to hit away when short ball – or hit and running - might in hindsight have been a better option.
Unable to score off Matt Timms in the top of eight, Adelaide was beautifully served by van Mil, who overpowered the Bandits hitters and forced the game into extras, while Ryan Searle took the pill from Timms to keep his side in the contest.
Adelaide lead-off Cowan hit safely and Dening tugged a single into rightfield to place runners at the corners with none out in the tenth before Stefan Welch walked to load the bases – with one out – and Sutherland made a stunning force play at the plate and Jordan McArdle flied out with the excitement at fever-pitch.
While Mitch Nilsson and David Rodriguez both hit safely in the bottom of the frame – with two out – van Mil remained up to the task in a tough situation and the game headed into an eleventh inning, when Searle again imposed his authority and Bite fireballer Zach Cooper was called from the pen in the equaliser.
Finally – in the twelfth – it was superstar Dening who broke the impasse with a two-run blast over the right-centre wall that handed the Bite a two-run break that was built upon by an Altmann RBI-single and an AC Carter sacrifice fly ball that sealed the deal 8-4 for an Adelaide outfit that refused to be denied and will enter the Sunday game with great confidence.
Posting fifteen hits to eight, the Bite had outstanding contributors in Cowan (four hits, with an RBI), Greene (thee and two, with a home run), Dening (two and two, with a home run) and Altmann (three and one), while Whitefield, Nilsson and Dutton were best for a Bandits side that struggled in offence after the early outburst.
Game Three of the Australian Baseball League Preliminary Final Series will be held at Holloway Field, Brisbane, on Sunday 5 February, starting at 1.00 PM local time (2.00 AEDST).
Bandits strike early: favoured to clinch at home
3 February 2017
Brisbane has shortened its odds for an Australian Baseball League Championship Series showdown in Melbourne with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Adelaide Bite in the first of the three-game Preliminary Final series decided at West Beach this evening.
With quality starters in Max MacNabb (Adelaide) and Justin Erasmus (Brisbane) going head-to-head in dominating over a scoreless first five, the Bite plated a run in the bottom of six but were unable to hold off a relentless Bandits offence and its vaunted bullpen.
The Preliminary Final series resumes in front of a parochial home crowd at Holloway Field in Brisbane on Saturday night, with a third game – if required – scheduled during Sunday afternoon.
After Bite left-armer Max MacNabb breezed comfortably through the first, Bandits starter Justin Erasmus repeated the dose by retiring Adelaide in order in the equaliser and both hurlers controlled proceedings until nine hitter Wade Dutton hit safely for Brisbane – to be the first runner of the game - with two out in the third.
Doubling with two out in the top of four, Bandits superstar David Rodriguez was left stranded as the Bite played stellar infield defence and finally landed a runner on base when Mitch Dening drew a walk in the bottom of four, before Thomas Milone hit safely with two out for Brisbane in the fifth but was gunned down easily on an attempted steal as a pitcher-dominated affair gathered intensity.
Recent Diamondbacks signee Jordan McArdle stroked a lead-off single for the Bite’s first hit in the bottom of six that looked inconsequential – at first - as Erasmus induced a pop-up and whiffed the dangerous LeDarious Clark before being relieved by Ryan Rowland-Smith.
Undeterred by facing the former Major League arm, Bite shortstop Jordan Cowan drove an opposite field triple into the leftfield corner to score McArdle and deliver the narrowest of leads for the home club.
With his side equally desperate for a vital first-up win, a one-out Logan Wade double offered Brisbane a chance in the top of seven, but his side was unable to capitalise before calling Zac Treece from the pen to close out the bottom of the frame as the pressure built.
With Matt Williams relieving for Adelaide in the top of eight, David Sutherland singled for the visitors, Dutton reached safely on a bunt and the Bite muffed a sacrifice short ball that enabled Sutherland to cross the plate and the Bandits to land runners at second and third with none out. A timely flared double by Trent Oeltjen scored both and Mitch Nilsson drew a subsequent walk before Adelaide turned a timely double play and escaped the innings with a two-run deficit that could well have been greater.
Handed the ball for the reigning champion in the bottom of eight, consummate closer Ryan Searle retired the first two hitters he saw and fanned Cowan to strand two runners on base before retiring the heart of the Bite order with no scoring damage done in the ninth.
Treece carded the win for Brisbane and Williams the loss for Adelaide, although the starting efforts of Erasmus (one hit over 5.2 for one earned run) and MacNabb (five hits over seven scoreless innings) were quite outstanding in a game that was meagre on offence – other than Oeltjen’s two hits for two ribbies – and was effectively decided in that one innings, the eighth, when the Bite defence faltered under duress.
Game Two of the Australian Baseball League Preliminary Final Series will be held at Holloway Field, Brisbane, on Saturday 4 February, starting at 6.00 PM local time (7.00 AEDST). Game Three, if required, will be played at Holloway on Sunday 5 February, starting at 1.00 PM local time.
Image: Australian Baseball League