ABL wide open heading to New Year
Aside from the customary New Year’s Eve festivities, Thursday evening will introduce us to a veritable three day celebration of Australian baseball as clubs strive to improve their ladder positions with just four weeks of regular season play remaining.
At home, second-placed Canberra Cavalry (23-17) will be looking for a strong showing against an ever-dangerous Perth Heat (18-22) - which is still in with a chance of playoff action - while league-leading Brisbane Bandits (24-16) make the trek south to tackle Melbourne Aces (15-25).
Playing host to third-placed Adelaide Bite (20-19), Sydney Blue Sox (19-20) will be a tough prospect in a testing five-game series that may be pivotal for both clubs. The extra game will be to make up for an earlier rainout between the clubs.
NOTE: the Melbourne versus Brisbane Sunday clash is the Game of the Week to be televised by ESPN and Fox Sports Asia. To meet media timing commitments, it has been rescheduled to 4.00 PM AEDT (from the earlier 12.00 PM time slot).
WEEK ELEVEN AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE PREVIEW
30 December 2015
CANBERRA CAVALRY versus PERTH HEAT (Narrabundah)
Thursday 31 December, 7.00 AEDT
Friday 1 January, 7.00 AEDT
Saturday 2 January, 7.00 AEDST
Sunday 3 January, 12.00 AEDST
Last series – The Heat found themselves in a 2-0 and having lost five games in row but were able to salvage a split against Melbourne. Canberra found themselves in the box seat against the Bite but were unable to convert and settled for a split.
What’s coming – Canberra have slipped off the top of the standings and will be desperate to reclaim top spot. The Heat are 2.5 games out of the playoffs and have scored a league low 144 runs this season to date. Contests between the pair have been hotly contested over the last few years and this is a series with a range of playoff implications for both teams.
Pay attention to – Canberra and Brisbane couldn’t be further apart when it comes to putting men on base. The Cavalry have a collective .367 OBP to lead the league while the Heat have an OBP of .291, last in the league and .048 points lower than any other team in the league.
Prediction – The Cavalry have struggled across their last ten games, winning just four. Despite this the Cavalry are playing .650 ball at home and are going to keep that form going, winning the series 3-1.
MELBOURNE ACES vs BRISBANE BANDITS (Melbourne Ballpark)
Thursday 31 December, 7.05 AEDT
Friday 1 January, 7.05 AEDT
Saturday 2 January, 6.05 AEDT
Sunday 3 January, 4.00 AEDT
Last series – The Bandits showed why they are a genuine title contender, romping past the Blue Sox and taking all four games. In a pattern all too familiar to Aces fans an opportunity to win an away series was squandered. The Aces took the first two in Perth but were outscored 9-3 in the final two games as they earned a frustrating split.
What’s coming – A do or die weekend for the Aces. With two of their remaining four series on the road (where they haven’t won a series in 36 attempts) the Aces need to dominate at home to be any chance.
Pay attention to – Free passes. The Aces have walked 38 more hitters than the Bandits this year. If the plate discipline of the Bandits and the control issues from the Aces staff clash it is going to be a long weekend for the home side.
Prediction – The Bandits are going to be too strong for an Aces team who lack pitching depth. Three wins to Brisbane to give them the series and keep them atop the standings.
SYDNEY BLUE SOX versus ADELAIDE BITE (Blacktown Sportspark)
Thursday 31 December, 7.30 AEDT
Friday 1 January, 7.30 AEDT
Saturday 2 January, 3.30 AEDT
Saturday 2 January, 6.30 AEDT
Sunday 3 January, 1.00 AEDT
Last series – The Bite hosted Canberra and missed several key opportunities as the series ended in a split. The Blue Sox were on the wrong end of a rampant Brisbane, losing all four games and scoring seven runs, nine of which came in the series finale.
What’s coming – With the season entering the last month this could be the weekend that defines both campaigns. One game separates the pair and both sides will feel they need to win to make the playoffs.
Pay attention to – The Blue Sox momentum early in the series. The last month has been an identity crisis for Sydney and they must find their feet early to be any chance of beating the Bite. If they can jump on top early they are a good chance of getting a much needed series victory.
Prediction – The Bite are going to capitalise on a Sydney team who are down on their luck. This will be the second time the two sides meet for five games this season and the Bite will take three games to give themselves more breathing room.
Image: Canberra Times