Heat, Blue Sox face acid test
Although final standings for the Australian Baseball League may not be decided for a time yet, Round Twelve promises to have a huge bearing on the prospects of those currently vying for third placing.
Needing at least two series wins to have a chance, Perth Heat (20-24) will be at home to second-placed Canberra Cavalry (25-19) in what should be a cracker, while Sydney Blue Sox (22-22) make the trek north to take on the might of league-leading Brisbane Bandits (27-17).
While focused on a tough series at Holloway, the Sox will be keeping an eye on happenings at Norwood, where Adelaide Bite (22-22) plays host to Melbourne Aces (16-28), which appears well out of contention – even in the improbable event of winning all twelve games to come.
NOTE: the Perth versus Canberra Sunday clash is the Game of the Week to be televised by ESPN, Fox Sports Asia and MLB Network. To meet media timing commitments, it has been rescheduled to 4.00 PM AEDT.
WEEK TWELVE AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE PREVIEW
7 January 2016
ADELAIDE BITE versus MELBOURNE ACES (Norwood)
Thursday 7 January, 7.00 ACDT
Friday 8 January, 7.00 ACST
Saturday 9 January, 7.00 ACST
Sunday 10 January, 12.00 ACST
Last series – The Aces struggled at home dropping three games to the Bandits. The Bite got off to a fast start against the Blue Sox but fell away in the second half of the series, dropping the final three games.
What’s coming – A series that neither side can afford to lose. The stats suggest the Aces aren’t going to make the playoffs given their current position. The Bite find themselves tied with the Blue Sox, two games ahead of the Heat and within three games of the Cavalry. A strong weekend can give the Bite some leeway where a win by the Aces could leave the Bite holding on for their lives.
Pay attention to – Hit By Pitch. These two sides have combined to hit 70 hitters this season. There will be a real advantage for the team that control their arms this series.
Prediction – Adelaide are going to be too strong across the park. Three wins against the Aces will keep them in the box seat for postseason action.
BRISBANE BANDITS versus SYDNEY BLUE SOX (Holloway Field)
Thursday 7 January, 6.30 AEST
Friday 8 January, 6.30 AEST
Saturday 9 January, 6.30 AEST
Sunday 10 January, 2.00 AEST
Last series – The Blue Sox kept themselves close to the playoff pack winning three of five against Adelaide. Brisbane extended their lead at the top of the standings, easily accounting for a Melbourne outfit who are as good as eliminated.
What’s coming – Another colourful chapter in the biggest rivalry in the league. It’s not new information that Brisbane and Sydney have it out for each other. With a playoff spot and minor premiership on the line, this series is shaping as the most crucial series of the season to date. The Blue Sox are yet to miss the playoffs and will be doing everything in their power to maintain that record and keep the Claxton Shield out of the Sunshine State.
Pay attention to – Travis Blackley. The former Major Leaguer signed with the Brisbane Bandits during the week and his experience will be crucial down the stretch as the Bandits search for their first playoff appearance.
Prediction – The Bandits are going to do enough to stay on top of the standings for another week. Three wins against an inconsistent Blue Sox outfit as the Queenslanders look to close in on home field advantage.
PERTH HEAT versus CANBERRA CAVALRY (Barbagallo)
Thursday 7 January, 7.05 AWST
Friday 8 January, 7.05 AWST
Saturday 9 January, 7.05 AWST
Sunday 10 January, 1.05 AWST
Last series – Canberra got off to a fast start against Perth and settled for a split. The Heat kept themselves in playoff contention with a pair of wins against the Cavalry keeping them within two games of third place.
What’s coming – The most desperate Heat outfit the Australian Baseball League has ever seen. It’s rare to enter the second week of January and see the Perth Heat fighting to stay alive. They’re going to come out all guns blazing against the Cavalry, knowing that they need four wins to give themselves the best chance of winning a third straight championship.
Pay attention to – Hits. It seems obvious yet the Heat are hitting a league worst .224 as a team. On the contrary the Cavalry are hitting a league leading .283. The Heat are going to need to buck the trend to keep themselves within touching distance.
Prediction – Both sides have shown they have the others’ number this year and this series is too close to call. A split will eventuate, not helping either side.
Image: Australian Baseball League