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Bandits on fire in Perth:   Bite on the improve

Kingsley Collins

8 November 2015


Brisbane (8-4) holds second placing on the Australian Baseball League table after a stunning series victory over Perth Heat (6-6) – its first at Barbagallo – while Adelaide (4-8) took three of its four game set from Melbourne to draw level with the Aces in fifth placing.


After copping a drubbing in Game One – and again in Game Three - Sydney Blue Sox (5-7) displayed some real character in threatening to square its series with Canberra before the Cavalry finished with a rush in the finale to hold first placing (9-3) on the table.


With three series completed, there appears little to separate the clubs as each seeks to build its early season.   







In a remarkable series that saw sixty-three runs scored between both clubs, it was Canberra that proved an irresistible force with a couple of thumping wins and a stirring comeback against the odds in Game Four.  The Cavalry won the series 3-1.


Rescheduled after a Thursday night rain-out, GAME ONE of this series was a disappointing mismatch, with the Blue Sox totally dominated by a stunning complete-game outing from Canberra ace Brian Grening – who conceded a miserly two hits and one walk while whiffing eight in a masterful performance. Pounding out twelve hits for a 9-0 result, the Cavalry plated two in the first, three in the seventh and another four in the eighth as only Blue Sox starter Wayne Lundgren (six innings) held up against an imperious Canberra offence sparked by Boss Moanaroa (two hits, including a three-run homer), Aaron Sayers (three and three) and Jason Leblebijian (one and two).


The first of the Saturday double-header (a seven-innings contest) was a complete turnaround, with the Blue Sox this time bringing the pitching and the offence to post a 6-0 GAME TWO win against a Canberra outfit that was stifled by Sydney starter Alex Balog – who scattered seven hits over six innings to card the win before handing the ball to closer Grant Piccoli. While Canberra starter Wade Korpi was strong over four, he ran into strife in the fifth, when a three-run Trent D’Antonio double delivered a match-winning break for the visitors. The Blue Sox pushed home the advantage with another in the sixth and two more in the seventh on an error, a wild pitch and a Rhys Hoskins double.


Smarting from the shutout, Canberra regrouped rather quickly to put GAME THREE beyond doubt early, with four in the first and a game-breaking six in the fourth along the way to a 14-3 cakewalk. Evergreen Sydney starter Craig Anderson, Aaron Sookee and Matthew Rae were all put to the sword as the Cavalry amassed seventeen hits to six, featuring a Boss Moanaroa grand slam in that rollicking fourth frame. But while the Boss was outstanding with three hits and six RBIs, he received terrific support from Bryan Pounds (four and two), Jack Barrie (two hits, including a moonshot) and centrefielder David Harris (two hits). Collecting the win, Steven Kent gave the Cavalry a grand start before Colton Turner and Tyson Walker delivered the last rites with their club well in charge.


Sydney opened scoring in GAME FOUR and strolled to a break with a three-run second innings, generated by sacrifice fly balls to Alex Howe and Jamie Westbrook, backed up by a Josh Dean RBI single that brought Rafael Fernandes from the pen in relief of Aaron Thompson. There was little respite, though, as Rhys Hoskins blasted a two-run bomb in the fourth and Jan Stoecklin continued to hold sway for the Sox. Not about to lay down, Canberra mounted an assault on Sydney reliever Brandon Zywicki with five in the bottom of five before edging ahead in the sixth. With the Cavalry going to James Kennedy, Sydney responded with two in the seventh – not enough, as it transpired, as Canberra loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth to set the table for Jason Leblebijian, who dutifully delivered with a two-run scoring double and an 11-10 result. Just an extraordinary game that produced twenty-one runs from thirty-one hits.







Fronting up for its first home series with a 1-7 season record, Adelaide Bite delivered the goods for its supporters with a three and one series win – its only loss coming in a fifteen innings contest that went well into Saturday evening. Adelaide won the series 3-1.


While Melbourne opened GAME ONE hostilities with a run in the first, the visitors were under the pump when the Bite scored four in the bottom of three on two-run bombs to Jordan Cowan and Kyle Petty. The Aces hit back with two in the fourth on a ground ball and a two-out walk but they were unable to peg back the deficit - despite a belated run in the eighth – and Adelaide posted a first-up 6-4 win that was credited to Steven Chambers for his five innings of work before the bullpen was used to effect. Matt Larkins took the loss for the Aces, who were outhit eleven to six as the home side produced dangerous offence led by Jordan Cowan (four hits and three RBIs), Kyle Petty (three and two) and Tom Brice (two and one).


Scheduled as the first of a Saturday double-header, GAME TWO of this series developed into a dead-set war of attrition – lasting fifteen innings and over five hours before the Aces finally edged ahead in the top of the last and held on for a 5-4 result. Yasuo Sano (Aces) and Matthew Swilley (Bite) both spun terrific starts and neither club could score until Darryl George drove in Paul Rutgers for Melbourne in the fourth. A Trey Vavra homer stretched the lead in the fifth, although Adelaide hit back to tie it up in the sixth. With both sides wringing the pitching changes, there was nothing doing until the eleventh, when a Trey Vavra double gave his side a two-run break that was pegged back by a two-run Kyle Petty bomb in the equaliser. The clear offensive hero for Melbourne, Trey Vavra delivered his fourth RBI with another decisive blow - a bags loaded ground ball off Bite superstar Matt Williams. The fifth pitcher used by his club, Matt Wilson (three scoreless innings) took the win for Melbourne after a marathon that could easily have gone either way.


Because of the late finish on Saturday night, GAME THREE was redrawn for early Sunday, as a seven innings contest with the Bite and Aces locked at one run apiece. With the closeness of the series thus far, it was no surprise that the combatants should again be trading blows as the Aces scored in five innings and the Bite four. This time, though, it was the Bite who broke a deadlock in the bottom of eight and went on to a 10-8 win. While both sides scored regularly, Adelaide made the early running with a five spot in the second – generated largely by a three-run scoring double by Jordan Cowan. Amassing just nine hits to the Aces fifteen, Adelaide cashed in on its opportunities through the likes of Cowan (two hits for four RBIs), Landon Hernandez (three and two) and Kyle Petty (two and two), while the Aces had standouts in catcher Mike Hill (three and three), Josh Davies (three and two), Darryl George, Brad Harman and Logan Moon. Devon Barker was credited with the win for Adelaide and William Wu a loss for the Aces.


A star for Melbourne in Round Two, Mike McGillivray was under early pressure in a seven-innings GAME FOUR when the Bite plated two in the first and a run in the second, followed by a five spot in the fourth on a string of hits to Mark Wik, Stefan Welch, Kyle Petty and Angus Roeger – aided by some indifferent Aces defence. While Tanner Vavra doubled to score an Aces run in the third, Bite starter Matt Williams was dominant over six before Chris Dula closed out an 8-1 win for Adelaide. Completing an outstanding series, first-sacker Kyle Petty stroked another three hits (for three RBIs), while Marc Wik and Stefan Welch made solid contributions. Eight players each contributed a hit for the Aces, who are joined at 4-8 on the Australian Baseball League table.







Brisbane continued its stunning early season form with a 3-1 series win over Perth Heat – its first ever at Barbagallo - in a thrilling four-game set played as a double-header on Friday and again on Saturday. Brisbane Bandits won the series 3-1.


After both sides were held scoreless over three in GAME ONE, Ryan Battaglia swatted a three-run homer in the fourth and Mitch Nilsson doubled to plate another couple in the seventh (the last) to set up a solid 5-1 win over the Heat, who could manage their solitary run in the last as Rick Teasley (6.1 innings) took the win. The Heat had their chances - generated by the likes of Correlle Prime (three hits), Derek Peterson and Sam Kennelly (two apiece) – although the visitors were better able to convert opportunities.


Taking some mighty offensive form into a nine-innings GAME TWO, the Bandits exploded to a seven zip lead in the middle of the fifth after back-to-back homers by Andrew Campbell and Bralin Jackson in the third and another four runs in the fifth as Perth faltered in defence. While the home club hit back with three – compliments of a Tim Kennelly two-run double and a defensive error – it was a bridge too far and Brisbane ran out a 7-3 winner. Conceding four earned runs, Nick Veale took the loss for Perth, while Justin Erasmus was awarded the win for the Bandits - who used five to winning effect on the hill.


Slated as a seven-innings contest, GAME THREE developed into a high-pressure, pitcher-dominated clash that saw Perth snatch a 3-2 anti-climactic win on an error and a passed ball in the bottom of ten. Correlle Prime’s two run jack put Perth on the board in the first, although the Bandits finally squared the ledger in the top of six on a grounder and a timely Maxx Tissenbaum double. Settling after the Prime shot, Brisbane starter Jason Jarvis was terrific over seven innings, while the Heat would be delighted with Matt Taylor (four innings) and Nick Veale (one) before Scott Mitchinson scattered two hits over five to card the win.


Tested for pitching depth heading to GAME FOUR, both sides showed their class in playing out another superb ten-innings contest in which both sides struggled for offensive production. Using five on the hill in conceding just three hits, Brisbane enjoyed grand service from Josh Warner (one hit over five innings of work) and Ryan Searle, who collected the 2-0 win with two hitless innings at the end. While Perth starter Edwin Carl was superb over seven innings, the Bandits made their move against Perth closer Jon Jones in the top of ten, when a Connor MacDonald double, an intentional walk, a Bralin Jackson single, a rare Perth error and a Riley Unroe single drove the game’s only two runs across the plate.



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