Round Seven vital to ABL playoff prospects
While final Australian Baseball League standings may not be decided until the last weekend in January, it is likely that Round Seven will go some way to clarifying the prospects of five clubs playing catch-up behind league-leading Melbourne Aces (18-6).
The Aces will play host to Brisbane Bandits (11-13), which will need at least a split to stay in serious contention for a top-three finish, while second-placed Adelaide Bite (12-12) is at home to Canberra Cavalry (13-11), which would dearly love a series win to consolidate in second.
In the west, Perth Heat (8-16) can settle for nothing less than a series win – or preferably a sweep – over the visiting Sydney Blue Sox (10-14), which has dropped seven of its past eight and will be desperate to reverse its fortunes with a tough last few rounds still to come.
Taking the lead among sporting organisations on seeking to eliminate domestic violence, the Australian Baseball League has dedicated games on Friday 6 January to promote the No More campaign – featuring a number of interactive strategies across the three games to help raise awareness of an entrenched cultural problem.
Aside from the usual interest and passion generated by Australian Baseball League, Round Seven will coincide with commencement of the National Youth Championships to be played at Blacktown Sportspark from 6-15 January. A handful of players representing their states at the championships have already played in Australian Baseball League this season – which augurs well both for their own future and that of the league.
Round Seven will see some further change in playing personnel across the league, with a number of big names suiting up for the first time this season – especially at Melbourne Ballpark, where Major Leaguer James Beresford and Boston Red Sox prospect Dan McGrath will suit up for the Aces against a Bandits outfit that will include Ryan Rowland-Smith and Trent Oeltjen as they prepare for the World Baseball Classic.
All round, another massive weekend in prospect for our own national league.
WEEK SEVEN AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE PREVIEW
With sixteen games left in the Australian Baseball League season, all six teams remain on the playoff hunt and will be desperate for a series victory this weekend to further their playoff chances.
MELBOURNE ACES versus BRISBANE BANDITS (Melbourne Ballpark)
Thursday 5 January, 7.00 AEST
Friday 6 January, 7.00 AEST WATCH LIVE
Saturday 7 January, 6.30 AEST
Sunday 8 January, 1.00 AEST
The defending champion Brisbane Bandits head south to take on the ladder-leading Melbourne Aces. The Aces have amassed a 10-2 record at home to date, while the Bandits have struggled to a .500 record on the road. The Bandits are coming off a huge weekend against the Bite where they went yard eight times and had 54 hits across the four game series. Standing in their way this weekend are Mark Hamburger, Jeremy Guthrie, Dushan Ruzic and Dan McGrath. Guthrie suffered from a rough outing in his ABL debut and will be looking to rebound in front of his home fans.
Aces to continue their stunning home form, 3-1.
ADELAIDE BITE versus CANBERRA CAVALRY (West Beach)
Friday 6 January, 7.00 ACST LISTEN
Saturday 7 January, 4.00 ACST WATCH LIVE
Saturday 7 January, 7.00 ACST LISTEN
Sunday 8 January, 11.30 ACST LISTEN
The Adelaide Bite and Canberra Cavalry find themselves in a strange predicament. Both sides look capable of making a move up the standings but neither has been able to assert itself this season. They meet at West Beach this weekend knowing that anything outside of a series victory could well close the door on their hopes of hosting the ABLCS. Canberra have set the example with the bat this year, with the Perkins brothers and Boss Moanaroa having the best averages in the league among active players. Mitch Dening and Marcus Greene Jr. are the only two Bite players to register in the top 20 hitters to this stage of the season. Teenage sensation Jack O’Loughlin has been a shining light for the Bite and will be looking to add to his impressive numbers yet again.
Hits with RISP will be the deciding factor this weekend, with both teams set to have their inconsistencies continue, 2-2.
PERTH HEAT versus SYDNEY BLUE SOX (Barbagallo Ballpark)
Thursday 5 January, 7.00 AWST
Friday 6 January, 7.00 AWST
Saturday 7 January, 7.00 AWST
Sunday 8 January 4.00 AWST WATCH LIVE
The Perth Heat host the Sydney Blue Sox and know that another poor home series could spell the end of their 2016-17 campaign. They currently sit ten games behind the Aces and four games outside of a playoff place. The Blue Sox have had their share of problems this year, with a depleted Blue Sox roster reflected in their current standing – a mere two games ahead of the struggling Heat. Perth and Sydney are the two worst hitting teams in the league, hitting .250 and .242 respectively.
Whoever can find their way out of this funk on the weekend will come out on top. Heat, 3-1.