Cavalry in charge: clubs playing ABL catch-up
Heading to the halfway point of the Australian Baseball League for 2015/16, all that we can sensibly glean is that the season remains wide open – as should be the case, in a six-team competition.
Traversing the expansive Nullarbor, league-leading Canberra Cavalry (16-8) may find itself tested by Perth Heat (13-11) – always a tough assignment at Barbagallo – while Brisbane Bandits (12-12) will be anxious to snap a losing streak against Melbourne Aces (9-15), which has shown a recent capacity to do offensive damage to any club despite its poor historical record on the road.
Sitting fifth, Adelaide Bite (9-13) will have terrific crowd support for its home series against Sydney (11-11) – including a make-up game on Saturday - although the Blue Sox are on a tear and will be a tough opponent.
WEEK SEVEN AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE PREVIEW
2 December 2015
ADELAIDE BITE versus SYDNEY BLUE SOX (Norwood Oval)
Thursday 3 December, 7.00 ACT
Friday 4 December, 7.00 ACT
Saturday 5 December, 4.30 ACT
Saturday 5 December, 7.30 ACT
Sunday 6 December, 12.00 ACT
Last series – The Blue Sox swept the Bandits as the pair met for the first time this season. The Bite attempted to slow the juggernaut that is the Cavalry, and did a semi-reasonable job of it, taking the opener but ultimately falling 3-1.
What’s coming – The longest series of the weekend is a chance for both teams to plant themselves firmly in the playoff picture. Both sides come in on opposite ends of the momentum spectrum and the home side are going to be desperate to right the wrongs of last weekend.
Pay attention to – Loek Van Mil. It’s going to be hard not to pay attention to the tallest man to play Minor League Baseball, but Van Mil has more going for him than his height. Van Mil has played AAA games over three seasons and the Bite will be looking for him to draw on that experience for the rest of the season.
Prediction – The Bite have looked a shadow of what they were last season and need to turn a corner if they’re going to make another championship run. A 4-1 victory in the extended five game set is the tonic they need.
BRISBANE BANDITS versus MELBOURNE ACES (Holloway Field)
Friday 4 December, 6.30 AEST
Saturday 5 December, 3.30 AEST
Saturday 5 December, 6.30 AEST
Sunday 6 December, 2.00 AEST
Last series – The Aces stormed back late on Monday but were denied a series victory by an Allen de San Miguel homer in the ninth inning. The Bandits suffered their worst fate of the season, being swept by the Sydney Blue Sox.
What’s coming – While neither side is facing elimination this weekend both sides will feel they need a series victory to stay in touch with the frontrunners. Brisbane return to the friendly confines of Holloway field where they are 6-2 on the season, while the Aces making their first trip north, nursing an unsavoury 3-5 road record to date.
Pay attention to – Timely hitting. Despite bringing up the rear of the standings the Aces have amassed the second most hits in the season to date (221). They sit second only to Canberra (241) with this weekend’s opponents sitting third in the same category (199). The Bandits record suggests they’re able to hit effectively with men on base, while the Aces can get men, on but struggle with bringing them home.
Prediction – The Bandits are going to work their way back into the win column. The Aces are the only team in the ABL without an away series victory in the history of the league, and as positive as signs have been this won’t change this weekend. Brisbane to win 3-1.
PERTH HEAT versus CANBERRA CAVALRY (Barbagallo Ballpark)
Thursday 3 December, 7.05 AWST
Friday 4 December, 7.05 AWST
Saturday 5 December, 7.05 AWST
Sunday 6 December, 4.05 AWST
Last series – Canberra kept the wheels in motion as they took another series 3-1. The Heat flirted with disaster but came away with a split against the Aces.
What’s coming – To suggest this was going to be a preview of the Championship Series would be a fair bet. These two sides have shown their ability to win when they need to this year, and the Heat are in need of a series victory to keep pace with the Cavalry.
Pay attention to – If the Heat can use the long ball. Perth only have nine home runs through their first 24 games of the season. If Canberra continue to go long at the rate they have (1.04 times per game), it’s going to be hard for the Heat to win if they can’t match those numbers.
Prediction – The Heat have shown flashes of brilliance in the first six weeks of the season and it is going to be enough to slow the men from the Territory. A tense series that will finish in a split.