Vital round looms for ABL combatants
Always tough to beat at Narrabundah, first-placed Canberra Cavalry (19-13) will play host to Brisbane Bandits (18-14) – who will have a shot at assuming Australian Baseball League leadership – while third-placed Sydney Blue Sox (16-15) has built an outstanding recent home record and will be confident of a strong showing at Blacktown against Melbourne Aces (12-20), who have not yet abandoned hopes of post-season action.
Sitting fourth, Adelaide Bite (15-16) can again expect spirited fan support at Norwood Oval as it strives to gain a break on Perth Heat (15-17), who – as history has shown - is eminently capable of turning it on in the second half of the season.
In all, a fascinating weekend of national baseball competition is in prospect.
WEEK NINE AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE PREVIEW
16 December 2015
CANBERRA CAVALRY versus BRISBANE BANDITS (Narrabundah)
Friday 18 December, 7.00 AEDST
Saturday 19 December, 4.00 AEDST
Saturday 19 December, 7.00 AEDST
Sunday 20 December, 12.00 AEDST
Last series – Brisbane took control against the Heat, winning three out of four and showing that their win in Perth was no fluke. Canberra were swept by the Blue Sox, pulling them back to the rest of the chase pack.
What’s coming – Two teams who know they can win the title. The key is winning this series, which may either see the Cavalry improve their lead at the top or see Brisbane jump to the top of the standings as the regular season enters the final month.
Pay attention to – Big plays in crucial situations. Canberra have been and done it all before. An Asia Series title and Claxton Shield in 2012-13 are clear indicators that Michael Collins has built a winning culture. For Dave Nilsson (who is also a proven winner) it’s going to come down to whether he can get the Bandits playing their natural game rather than focusing on the standings.
Prediction – The winner of this series will take the position of Claxton Shield favourites. These sides have been close all year and there’s no sign that’ll change this weekend. Both sides to take a pair.
SYDNEY BLUE SOX versus MELBOURNE ACES (Blacktown Sportspark)
Friday 18 December, 7.30 AEDST
Saturday 19 December, 3.30 AEDST
Saturday 19 December, 6.30 AEDST
Sunday 20 December, AEDST
Last series – The Aces dominated the one-sided games but couldn’t get it done in the close encounters as they split their series with the Bite. The Blue Sox showed what they’ve been showing since day one – that they can beat anyone on their day, in this case sweeping the table topping Cavalry.
What’s coming – Desperation. The Aces are desperate to end their away series hoodoo and get a series win which would surely keep them in playoff contention. For Sydney it is vital they continue the form of last weekend against Canberra. A series win for the Blue Sox will not only solidify their playoff claims but give them a chance to claim the regular season crown.
Pay attention to – Royals prospect Logan Moon. Moon has a ten game hit streak which has included five multiple hit games. Over that stretch Moon is hitting .439 with 2 home runs, 11 RBIs, 4 stolen bases and has raised his average from .203 to .273.
Prediction – The Blue Sox are going to be too strong for the Aces. The home side to take three out of four.
ADELAIDE BITE versus PERTH HEAT (Norwood Oval)
Friday 18 December, 7.00 ACT
Saturday 19 December, 4.00 ACT
Saturday 19 December, 7.00 ACT
Sunday 12.00 ACT
Last series – Perth’s loss to Brisbane showed that something is amiss with the defending champions despite the fact they are 1.5 games out of a playoff place. The Bite were fortunate to come away with a split against the Aces.
What’s coming – Two sides who are trending in the wrong direction. Perth being within two games of a playoff spot shouldn’t be considered a crisis, but it is a mark of respect that people across the league are noticing that something isn’t right. Adelaide are 14-9 since their disastrous first fortnight and are looking to draw on their experiences from last year to keep that form going into the festive season.
Pay attention to – Clever bench usage. The Heat will be at Norwood Oval in more ways than one with temperatures expected to push 40 degrees between now and Sunday. The key to winning this series lies in making sure the reserve players have the opportunity for impact.
Prediction – The Bite have worked hard over the last fortnight to find their feet and they’re looking to take advantage of a Heat outfit who just aren’t quite right. Adelaide 3-1.