Cavalry, Aces hit back: free-scoring Bandits drop one
26 November 2017
Coming off a tough opening series in Brisbane, Canberra Cavalry (3-4) took three of its four Round Two games over Sydney Blue Sox (5-3) which remains strong in second placing behind Brisbane Bandits (6-1), who amassed a remarkable 47 runs over four games but fell one win short of a sweep against Perth Heat (4-4).
Recording its poorest start to an Australian Baseball League season thus far, Adelaide Bite (1-7) posted one convincing win at home to Melbourne (4-4), while being otherwise outplayed by an Aces outfit that demonstrated its pitching depth and is clearly on the improve after an opening series loss.
After the second round of a truncated, forty-game season that has already produced an inordinately high number of home runs, Brisbane remains the benchmark and perennial finalist Adelaide will need to step up a gear or two to remain among the contenders.
With some fascinating baseball in prospect over the weeks to come, stay tuned for Alumni news and views - including our excellent series previews prepared by contributor AJ Mithen, who can be contacted on our FACEBOOK page or via TWITTER @AJMithen.
ADELAIDE BITE versus MELBOURNE ACES
Melbourne won this series 3-1.
With Max Beatty (Bite) and Mark Hamburger (Aces) matching up on the hill, Adelaide scored in the first of GAME ONE and Melbourne replied in the top of the second before Darius Day banged a two-run shot – his first home run in the ABL – to stretch the lead for the host club. The response was emphatic, as hits to Jarryd Dale, Darryl George (double), Brett Cumberland and Allan de San Miguel (double) gleaned three for the Aces before Hamburger escaped jams in the third and the fifth. Not so in the sixth, though, when Angus Roeger belted a two-run shot over the rightfield wall for a one-run Bite lead. Relieving Hamburger – who had been taken for thirteen hits while whiffing ten over a 140 pitch outing – fireballer Shunta Nakatsuka negotiated a scoreless seventh before Nick Hutchings was taken deep by Jared Cruz with a three-run blast for a two-run Aces lead. A Tai-San Chang RBI double halved the lead in the eighth to spell the end for Nakatsuka and draw Matt Marksberry from the pen for his Aces debut. A solo bomb by Delmon Young restored the Aces 8-6 break that was protected by Josh Tols with three punchouts.
Emerging tyro Jack O’Loughlin (Adelaide) and the vastly experienced Hei Chun Lee (Melbourne) put up zeroes in the first of GAME TWO before Allan de San Miguel – this time catching for the visitors – smacked a two-run homer to give his side the early lead, although the damage could have far greater for O’Loughlin had he not fanned Delmon Young, Brett Cumberland and de San Miguel with runners on in the third. Relieving Lee, Jackson Boyd held sway in middle relief while the Aces stretched their lead to six – including a solo jack to Young off Jackson Brebner-Russ. Going to Wilson Lee, Tyson McKee and Ryan Duncan to keep their club in the contest, the Bite offence was held in check by Shunta Nakatsuka and Jack Enciondo before Mitch ley closed out the game 6-0 in favour of Melbourne. With seven players posting hits, the Aces owed much to de San Miguel, Young, Jarryd Dale and Brett Cumberland, while Angus Roeger was best of a subdued Bite offence.
Although hits to Rodrigo Ayarza and Stephen Lohr gave the Bite an early lead in GAME THREE, starters Kona Takahashi (Melbourne) and Chris Powell (Adelaide) restricted scoring opportunities in a tight defensive contest before the Aces hit back with two in the fourth – thanks largely to two walks and an error. A walk, a throwing error, a Bas Nooij double, a HPB, a force play and a Nathan Van Der Linden bleeder gleaned two for the Bite in the equaliser for a lead that was built upon in the bottom of seven – when Ayarza blasted a two-out homer off Takahashi, who had done a grand job over seven for the Aces but would ultimately wear the loss as the home side tacked on an insurance run off Jamie Young in the eighth and despatched big man Loek van Mil to close out the game 6-2 and deliver a much-needed win for the Bite after six straight losses. Powell earned the win in a clash that saw both clubs concede unearned runs that did not reflect fully on quality outings by both starting pitchers.
Shooting for a series win, the Aces started GAME FOUR brightly, with Delmon Young doubling to drive in a first run off Bite starter Greg Mosel. However – in terms of offence – that was all she wrote for most of a gripping contest that produced pitching dominance from both sides, backed by tight offence that included a clutch out at the plate on a throw from Aces leftfielder Delmon Young. Tossing three hitless innings, Aces starter Christian Meister was relieved with a typically polished spell by Josh Tols (four innings), while Nick Hutchings and Matt Williams spun clean stints for the Bite as they combined with Mosel (three innings) to strike out eleven. Using Shunta Nakatsuta in the set-up role, the Aces called the indomitable Mark Hamburger from the pen to close out the game – which he did with aplomb by whiffing two with the tieing run on base. With just eight hits between the clubs – five of those to Adelaide - the 1-0 scoreline in favour of Melbourne was a great result for the visitors and a let-down for the Bite, whose pitching and defence had been first class.
CANBERRA CAVALRY versus SYDNEY BLUE SOX
Canberra won this series 3-1.
Although the Cavalry landed a pair of runners on base in the first of GAME ONE, starter Brian Grening (Canberra) and Trevor Foss (Sydney) were in command until the top of three, when Trent d’Antonio smacked a two-out RBI triple for the Blue Sox for a short-lived lead as Connor Panas left the yard to level scores in the fourth. Not to be denied, the Blue Sox challenged Grening in the sixth, when Jacob Younis doubled, Gavin Fingleson scored on a sacrifice fly ball and Chih-Hsien Chiang swatted a two-run bomb for a three-run lead to the undefeated Sydney outfit. With both sides racking up the hits, Kyle Perkins smacked a two-run homer for the Cavalry that brought Chang-Sung Ko from the pen in the bottom of seven. Having a great game with the bat, Panas tripled and scored to tie the game up in the bottom of eight. With both sides wringing the pitching changes, Canberra loaded the bases in the bottom of ten and scored the go-ahead on a one-out Jay Baum single to post the Cavalry’s first win of the season – and Sydney’s first loss. Closer Michael Click took the 5-4 win in a contest that saw eight players post hits for Canberra – with the standouts being Panas, Robbie Perkins and Baum.
With both sides playing stellar defence early in GAME TWO, starters Lake Bachar (Canberra) and evergreen Craig Anderson were dominant in dealing scoreless innings until the bottom of five, when Anderson conceded hits to Robbie Perkins, Jake Amos and Buddy Reed to set the table for David Kandilas – who promptly delivered with a grand slam over the leftfield wall. While Sydney threatened again – with two on base in the top of six - Bachar escaped the frame before handing the pill to Tyler Herr to pitch the last three scoreless innings and nail down a 4-0 win for the Cavalry. While Gavin Fingleson, Chih-Hsien Chiang and Connor MacDonald all posted two knocks for Sydney, Kandilas (three hits and four RBIs), Robbie Perkins (two hits) and Jake Amos (two hits) were outstanding in a Cavalry win that was properly credited to Bachar for six scoreless innings of outstanding work (seven hits, no walks, three strikeouts).
In command early in GAME THREE, starters Steven Kent (Canberra) and Clayton Freimuth (Sydney) put up zeroes through four - despite the Blue Sox loading the bases for no result in the top of three – before Trent d’Antonio blasted a solo homer in the top of five to give Sydney the lead. A Chih-Hsien Chang solo blast spelt the end for Kent, whose reliever in Stephens Janas walked a run across the plate to stretch the Sydney lead to three before Alex Howe cleared the bases with a three-run double that placed the Sox in a dominant position. With a lead-off David Kandilas double converted in the bottom of seven, the Cavalry further fuelled their hopes when Boss Moanaroa cleared the yard off Sox reliever Vaughan Harris in the eighth – although a second round tripper to Chiang made it a bridge too far for Canberra as Harris closed out a 8-2 win for the Blue Sox . Freimuth carded the win for Sydney, which out-out the home side twelve to four and enjoyed stunning contributions from Chih-Hsien Chang (two home runs and three ribbies), d’Antonio (four hits and an RBI) and Howe (two and three).
After an uneventful first frame of GAME FOUR in Wollongong, Canberra exploded offensively in the bottom of the second, when a Boss Moanaroa RBI-single kick-started a remarkable ten-run blast that included grand slams to both Buddy Reed and Moanaroa on his second trip. Of the ten runs, only two were earned as crucial defensive errors put Sydney starter Luke Wilkins under massive pressure from a potent Cavalry offence. While Canberra starter Frank Gailey was brilliant over a seven innings stint for nine strikeouts and a solitary earned run, his offence continued to build a massive score before the Blue Sox rallied for late runs off Sean Guinard and Dan Lietz. Of eight Cavalry players who contributed to the hit parade in a thumping 15-7 win, Moanaroa (three hits – including two home runs – for six RBIs) led the way along with Reed (grand slam), Jay Baum (two hits, including a two-run homer), Kyle Perkins, David Kandilas and Connor Panas, while Michael Suchy (three knocks – including a round tripper – for three ribbies) and Max Brennen (triple, for two RBIs) were best for the Blue Sox.
PERTH HEAT versus BRISBANE BANDITS
Brisbane won this series 3-1.
Starting against the might of the Bandits offence, Perth right-armer Alex Boshers conceded runs in the first and the second of GAME ONE before the visitors exploded with a four-spot in the third. With reliever Jake Bowey settling in for a solid stint, the Heat responded with three in the equaliser and another couple in the fifth to bring them back within a run before the Bandits blasted seven in the seventh for an unassailable lead as the Heat pen struggled to contain an offence that had contributors one through nine – with the standouts being Donald Lutz (home run and three RBIs)< Andrew Campbell (two hits and three RBIs), Mitch Nilsson (two and two) and Wade Dutton (two and two). While Jake Fraley (three hits), Alex Hall (two and two), Luke Hughes, Tim Kennelly and Michael Brosseau provided the offence for Perth, a dozen walks and thirteen strikeouts proved costly for the hosts in a 16-9 win for Brisbane, whose Zac Treece carded the win against an opponent that showed real fight at home after an impressive Round One in Melbourne.
Coming off a commanding win on Friday night, Brisbane Bandits promptly applied a stranglehold on GAME TWO, chasing Perth starter Kyle Simon from the hill with a barrage of ten hits for eight early runs – including a two-run homer by Mitch Nilsson and extra base hits to Aaron Whitefield and Logan Wade. Ryan Kift took Tim Atherton deep in the bottom of three and the Sydney starter walked a run across the plate in the fourth before Whitefield reaffirmed Bandits control with a solo blast in the fifth of a seven-innings contest. When Donald Lutz followed up by clubbing a three-run bomb, the visitors had exploded to an unassailable lead that was closed out by Rhys Niit, who complemented another outstanding start by Atherton despite a last innings Perth flurry – including a two-run Michael Brosseau homer. Remaining unbeaten with the 12-5 result, Brisbane amassed sixteen hits to six – with standout performances from Whitefield (four hits and an RBI), Mitch Nilsson, Lutz, Chi-Sheng Lin in another imperious hitting display.
Held scoreless by Nick Veale through the first two innings of GAME THREE, Brisbane broke the ice on a Mitch Nilsson two-out double in the third, followed by runs in the fourth and fifth, although the Heat stayed well in touch by scoring in the fourth and seventh before the game took a dramatic turn as the home bullpen was put to the sword. A Mitch Nilsson grand slam combined with four other hits, a walk and two wild pitches to generate a game-breaking seven for the Bandits, who pressed on with a bases clearing Chih-Sheng Lin double to nail down a comprehensive 13-3 win that kept the Brisbane early season streak intact. Super-efficient southpaw Travis Blackley carded the win and Pat Young the save for the Bandits, who continued their blistering offensive form – this time highlighted by the white-hot Mitch Nilsson (with a walk and four hits – including a home run and two doubles – for five RBIs), Lin, Logan Wade and Andrew Campbell. Tim Kennelly (three hits) and Michael Brosseau (two) were best for the Heat, which would be pleased with the solid Veale start but disappointed in conceding a team total of nine walks.
Not at all enamoured by the prospect of being swept at home – and perhaps stung by another Mitch Nilsson bomb for two Brisbane runs in the top of the first in GAME FOUR – Perth ramped up the heat big-time, taking seasoned Brisbane starter Justin Erasmus for eight runs in the first two frames, including two-run shots to Alex Hall and Tim Kennelly. As Tom Bailey settled into his work, the Heat tacked on another couple off Rhys Niit before Wade Dutton and Aaron Whitefield stroked back-to-back doubles to make it a five run ball game that was stretched again when emerging tyro Ulrich Bojarski banged an RBI-double. Relieving Bailey – who fanned eight of the Bandits' best – Jake Bowey tossed a scoreless seventh before the Bandits scored a belated run and Cameron Lamb closed out the game 11-6 in favour of Perth Heat. It was a comprehensive and morale-boosting win for the Heat, with Bailey carding a win that owed plenty to Kennelly (three hits for four RBIs), Jake Fraley and outfielder Hall, while Whitefield, Dutton and Mitch Nilsson were again prime movers for a Bandits offence that amassed an extraordinary total of 47 runs over the four games out west.
Boss brings the offence in Round Two.....