ABL Round Ten:  exciting yet unlikely scenarios

AJ Mithen

25 January 2018

 

It’s nearly time for the postseason! You’d swear that the first pitch was thrown yesterday, but we’re right at the business end of ABL season 2017/18.

 

Across the sports world, a regular season’s final round presents danger and opportunity in equal measure. Top teams sometimes ‘rest’ key players or don’t attack the game as hard as they usually would. Sometimes, this causes a tumble down the standings and maybe a comfortable home final becomes a trip somewhere you don’t want to be.

 

Teams further south of the standings have little or no chance of finals action. They tend to head in  one of two directions - going down swinging and finishing strongly in the role of ‘spoiler’, or petering out to a tame, defeated end.

 

Do we have ‘resters’? Do we have ‘spoilers’? Maybe, maybe not. But remember (and sorry to disappoint here) - any excitement about potential place-swapping in the standings needs to be tempered with the unlikely scenarios required to make them happen.

 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Round Ten matchups.

 

We’re keen to get your thoughts on what will happen in Week Ten. Let us know on the Australian Baseball Alumni’s FACEBOOK page. To ridicule these previews, visit @AJMithen on Twitter.

 

 

ADELAIDE BITE versus SYDNEY BLUE SOX (West Beach)

 

Game 1:      Thursday 7.00 pm  ACT                                                                                                                                                                         

Game 2:      Friday 7.00 pm ACT                                                                                                                                                                                 

Game 3:      Saturday 4.00 pm ACT                                                                                                                                                                   

Game 4:      Saturday 7.00 pm ACT                             WATCH LIVE

 

Most exciting yet unlikely scenario: Sydney wins three, Melbourne get swept, Blue Sox go fourth on head to head.

 

Adelaide find themselves as potential spoilers for the second straight week after running the Aces perilously close in round nine.

 

They host a Sydney team which has a simple equation for the weekend - just win. They need at least a 3-1 result and some favours from Perth to sneak into the last finals place.

 

Chris Adamson would have been thrilled with the performance of his squad in Melbourne but it would still be annoying not to have the result to show for it. The Bite out-hit the Aces 39-25 over the four games but couldn’t get their baserunners to the only spot that mattered.

 

Sydney were able to grasp another wild Sunday win, this time 15-12 over Canberra to keep themselves alive in the race. 

 

The Blue Sox pitching staff has struggled after a promising start to the year. As it stands now they’re only barely behind the Bite for hits conceded (276-274) and they’re dead last for strikeouts, 33 behind the next closest (Perth).

 

With Adelaide’s young Aussie contingent hitting well, Stephen Lohr playing out a fantastic season and Rodrigo Ayarza now firing with bat in hand, the Blue Sox have the job ahead of them.

 

Sydney’s hitting has been consistent throughout the year and they’ll back themselves against the Bite’s staff - they just need to find that final 90 feet for their baserunners which has eluded them at so many critical points this season. 

 

Prediction: Adelaide 3-1.

 

You can guarantee Adelaide will be sizing up some vengeance against a Blue Sox team which swept them convincingly way back on opening weekend. How things looked different for the Blue Sox then.

 

 

PERTH HEAT versus MELBOURNE ACES (Barbagallo)

 

Game 1:     Thursday 7.00 pm AWST                          WATCH LIVE                                                                                                                                                    Game 2:     Friday 1.00 pm AWST                                                                                                                 

Game 3:     Saturday 4.00 pm AWST                                                                                                                                                                        

Game 4:     Saturday 7.00 AWST  

 

Most exciting yet unlikely scenario: Perth sweeps the Aces, Brisbane drop four games, Perth go top.

 

The Aces head to Perth to take on a very relaxed and comfortable Heat side, fresh from a split series in Brisbane that would have filled Andy Kyle’s men with much self belief for good things ahead.

 

Unless things go very askew in Canberra, Perth will be hosting a home finals series just one year after finishing dead last, a credit to one of Australia’s proudest baseball clubs.

 

The Heat have covered two huge personnel losses and continued on as if they were never there. Robbie Glendinning has slid in after Christmas and been fantastic, hitting .344 and maybe more importantly only committing one error.

 

Glendinning went 8-18 against Brisbane on their home field, something that’s not being done a whole lot lately.

 

Melbourne got a 3-1 result over the young Adelaide club at Laverton but they were made to work very hard, with those three wins by a total of four runs.

 

But it’s the Aces ability to stick around in close games that they’ll be banking on out west. Perth can be scored on quickly and with hitters like Michael Crouse and Tyler Neslony staying hot and the weekend’s hero Allan De San Miguel getting the key hits, there’s always a chance for baserunners.

 

Boom recruit Delmon Young went hitless in the Adelaide series but reached base in every game. It’s the obvious statement of the week to say that Melbourne need at least one impact moment from Young this series to get the win they need to end all speculation about who finishes fourth.

 

Prediction: Perth 3-1

 

Melbourne have no series wins in Perth and it’s 27-48 Perth’s way all time. That’s grisly reading. The Aces should get the win they need to hold Sydney off, but a Heat 4-0 is definitely a live option if they’re in the mood.

 

 

CANBERRA CAVALRY versus BRISBANE BANDITS (Narrabundah)

 

Game 1:       Thursday 7.00 pm AEDST                     WATCH LIVE                                                                                                                                 

Game 2:       Friday 7.00 pm AEDST                          WATCH LIVE

Game 3:       Saturday 4.00 pm AEDST                     WATCH LIVE                              

Game 4:       Saturday 7.00 pm AEDST                     WATCH LIVE

Game 5:       Sunday 1.00 AEDST (if required)    

 

Most exciting yet unlikely scenario: that game five is required at all.

 

Depending on how things go in Perth, this series could be magnificent… Or it could become an injury prevention exercise and bullpen workout.

 

The Cavs won 3-1 in Sydney but find themselves needing miracles to catch Perth after the Heat matched Brisbane last week.

Brian Grening (eight innings for one earned run) and Frank Gailey (six innings for one hit) spun more masterpieces against the Blue Sox, a rare commodity in a season so dominated by the bat. Canberra’s starters are possibly the best matchup for Brisbane’s formidable battery of Bollinger, Atherton and Blackley.

 

Brisbane were ‘held’ to a split homestand by Perth in a great weekend’s baseball. When it looked like one team was pulling away, the other would step up and pull the momentum their way. If that’s what we’ve got ahead of us in the finals, we’re all going to be very spoilt.

 

Brisbane will be hosting a home playoffs series no matter what, the big question is how badly they want to finish in spot number one.

 

A split will secure top spot for the Bandits, as will an unlikely Melbourne series win in Perth. Brisbane have been the team to beat so far and a tough series against a quality club is just what they’ll be looking for before we hit the postseason.

 

Canberra and Brisbane played out a highly entertaining and rain affected series in round one and while Brisbane won 3-0, it was a closely fought battle. The Bandits know the men from the capital have the quality to match the champs.

 

Prediction: Split.

 

I say split here, but if the Bandits can get into the Cavs’ bullpen then all bets are off. Other results should ensure there’s no need for a Sunday game, so Brisbane can head back to the beach…

 

This should be a great series to watch in any event. Get to it if you can!