Sox sweep Bite: Bandits strong, while Aces battle at home
19 November 2017
Under way this weekend, the Australian Baseball League season produced emphatic Round One series wins to Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
Shooting for its third Claxton Shield title on the trot, Brisbane Bandits won its three home games against Canberra Cavalry – with the other postponed because of inclement weather – while Sydney Blue Sox delighted its supporters with a four game sweep of Adelaide Bite at Blacktown and Perth Heat stunned Melbourne Aces with a strong series win at Altona.
While it is still early days in the eighth edition of the resurrected Australian Baseball League, the demonstrable quality of imported players counter-balanced by our own emerging stars suggests that we will be treated to another fascinating season – one albeit shortened to forty regular season games.
AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE ROUND ONE 2017/18
BRISBANE BANDITS versus CANBERRA CAVALRY
Brisbane won this series 3-0, with the fourth game postponed due to rain.
Fancied by many in its opening series, Brisbane was challenged in GAME ONE by Canberra, which matched scoring and dingers (one each) until the Bandits blasted a four-spot in the top of seven – a margin that proved insurmountable as the home side racked up twelve hits to eight and breezed to an 8-5 win. Among highlights were belligerent offence by Logan Wade (two hits, including a home run for four RBIs) and TJ Bennett for the Bandits, along with David Kandilas (two-run bomb for the Cavalry). Ryan Bollinger (nine strikeouts) was impressive with the start for Brisbane, Sam Holland earned the win in middle relief and Ryan Searle whiffed three hitters he faced to close out the game.
Again under fire from the Cavalry early in GAME TWO, Brisbane conceded three in the first off starter Travis Blackley – albeit after a two-out error that set the table for a three-run bomb by Connor Panas. After Kyle Perkins homered to stretch the lead, the Bandits closed ranks behind Blackley, plating a run in the equaliser and multiples in the fifth and sixth – including a two run TJ Bennett moonshot – to take a narrow lead that would be protected by Matt Timms and Ryan Searle. Rhys Niit took the win in a hotly-contested 5-4 clash featuring great offence from Panas and Buddy Reed (Canberra), along with Bennett and Logan Wade for the home team.
GAME THREE was postponed because of heavy rain and ground conditions. It will be rescheduled to a date during January if required.
Taking the start for his new club, Bandit Tim Atherton was accorded early run support in GAME FOUR, when Chih-Sheng Lin singled and scored on a Mitch Nilsson double in the first. With power arm Atherton and finesse southpaw Steve Kent on the hill for Canberra, offence was tough going for both clubs although the Cavalry tied it up courtesy of a defensive error in the third. The response was emphatic, however, as Andrew Campbell blasted a grand slam in the bottom of four. Although a David Kandilas solo shot reduced the deficit for Canberra in the sixth, Atherton had been superb for the Bandits before Pat Young closed out the game 5-2 in favour of the home club.
MELBOURNE ACES versus PERTH HEAT
Perth Heat won this series 3-1 at Altona.
Even with cult hero Mark Hamburger starting GAME ONE for the home side, Melbourne was on the receiving end of a serious drubbing that owed much to the offensive contribution of evergreen Luke Hughes – who swatted a grand slam in the sixth and a solo shot in the eighth en route to a five-RBI evening. But he was one of several heroes in a thirteen knocks outing to five for Perth, along with Zacery Law (two round-trippers), Jake Fraley (three hits, including a homer, for two RBIs) and winning pitcher Alex Boshers – who scattered five hits for one earned run in his side’s thumping 9-1 win over a much-touted Aces outfit.
After a lengthy rain delay early in the seven-innings GAME TWO, Jarryd Dale set the Aces alight with a two-run homer off Perth starter Dylan Thompson in the bottom of the second. While Aces starter Josh Tols kept racking up the strikeouts, Ryan Kift levelled scores with a two-run bomb in the fifth and Michael Brosseau drove in the go ahead in the sixth to spell the end for the Aces lefty. When Zacrey Law took giant Aces reliever Shunta Nakatsuka deep for two more, the task was ahead of the home club that responded with Darryl George clubbing a solo bomb off Heat reliever Kyle Simon and Jared Cruz tieing it up with a two-out, two-run blast that forced the contest to extras. Again rallying with two out, the Aces landed Brett Cumberland (double) and Allan de San Miguel on base to set the table for third-sacker Liam Bedford to stroke a double into leftfield to deliver his side a 6-5 win.
Perth was off to a flyer in GAME THREE, exploiting two defensive errors to score a couple off Kona Takahashi, who was matched up against former Victorian Nick Veale. A string of passes stretched the Heat lead in the third before the Aces took toll of a defensive slip-up to score in the equaliser, although walks continued to pose a problem for Takahashi as the Heat plated two more in the fourth. Despite passing up scoring opportunities, the Aces drew within a run when Darryl George homered in the sixth before Christian DeLeon and Mitch Ley were taken for two runs apiece as the Heat powered away late – and very late in the evening - for a 10-5 win. Cameron Lamb took the win in a scrappy contest that saw both club issuing more walks than they would have liked.
The Heat were again on the march early in GAME FOUR, when Garrett Whitley smacked a two-run shot off Aces starter Christian Meister in the first before Luke Hughes walked and Michael Brosseau doubled the lead by clearing the rightfield wall in the third. While Perth starter Tom Bailey continued to put up zeroes, Jack Fraley swatted a solo shot off Aces reliever Jeremy Young for a five-run break that was stretched further before Jack Enciondo was summoned from the pen. Coming alive in the fifth, the Aces loaded the bases with none out and forced a pitching change on a two-RBI Allan de San Miguel double. A grounder and a Tomoya Mori single scored another couple for the home club, followed by a de San Miguel homer in the seventh as the Aces battled hard but came up short against an opponent that prevailed 8-5 for an impressive series win.
SYDNEY BLUE SOX versus ADELAIDE BITE
Sydney Blue Sox won this series 4-0 at Blacktown Sportspark.
The build-up to its season may have been muted, but the Blue Sox made an emphatic statement that they are indeed here to play, scoring in all eight batting innings on their way to a comprehensive 10-1 GAME ONE win in which Trevor Foss carded the win over six innings of one-run ball before Todd Grattan and Kyle Glogoski closed out the game. Chie-Hsien Chiang (three hits, including a home run and triple for two RBIs) provided offensive power for the Blue Sox along with Trent d’Antonio (three knocks), Michael Suchy (home run and two ribbies), Connor Macdonald (home run) and former Olympian Gavin Fingleson (three RBIs), while shortstop Rodrigo Ayarza (solo homer) was the best of a subdued Bite offence.
A double to Rodrigo Ayarza and a triple to Darius Day set the base for a two-run Bite opener off Sydney starter Craig Anderson in GAME TWO, although Adelaide tyro Jack O’Loughlin was placed under similar pressure when the Sox responded in kind before two subsequent scoreless frames. A two-out Bas Nooij hit handed Adelaide the go-ahead in the fifth – though the lead was short-lived as Michael Suchy and Connor MacDonald combined off Bite reliever Matt Williams to plate a run in the bottom of six. Replacing Anderson, Vaughan Harris held sway through the top of seven before Sydney loaded the bases and Jacob Younis scooted home on an untimely wild pitch to deliver the Sox a 4-3 result in the first of the Saturday twin bill.
Still in search of their first win, Adelaide started GAME THREE brightly, scoring two with two out in the first – compliments of RBI hits to Tai-San Chang and Isaias Quiroz – before Jin-De Jhang squared the ledger with a two-run blast off Bite southpaw Clayton Freimuth. A sacrifice flyball gave Sydney a lead in the third, one that was stretched further with a two-run Gavin Fingleson double in the fourth. Hits to Ayarza, Stephen Lohr and evergreen Angus Roeger gleaned two for the Bite – for a one-run deficit after five. With both clubs getting terrific service from their relievers, scores remained stagnant from the sixth through the eighth – with Sven Schueller closing out the game 5-4 in favour of the Blue Sox. Freimuth carded the win in a quality contest that was evenly matched on hitting output (nine to eight in favour of Sydney).
Luke Wilkins (Sydney) and Greg Mosel (Adelaide) breezed through the first two frames of GAME FOUR before the Bite came alive in the third, when Rodrigo Ayarza doubled to drive in Nathan Van Der Linden. Dominant through five, Mosel ran into strife in the bottom of six, when a walk, two hits and an error brought Jackson Brebner-Russ from the pen in a tough situation as the Sox plated four runs. A walk, a grounder and an outfield error gleaned a second run for Adelaide in the eighth, although Matthew Rae was up to the task of closing out the game in support of Wilkins, who recorded the win. In a game where both sides struggled for offence, Jin-De Jhang and Michael Campbell were standouts for the Blue Sox as they swept this home series.