ABL Round Two: Cavalry in charge: Bandits sweep Bite
1 November 2015
After two rounds, and eight games, of Australian Baseball League play there seem to be certain trends emerging – although appearances may yet prove to be deceptive.
Despite dropping the last of its four-game set to Melbourne Aces (3-5), Canberra Cavalry (6-2) holds sway at the top of the table ahead of Brisbane Bandits (5-3), which swept Adelaide Bite (1-7) in a thrilling series that could have turned out quite differently.
Fielding an ostensibly stronger squad than last week at Altona, Sydney Blue Sox (4-4) squared its home series against Perth Heat (5-3), which shares second and will play host to the Bandits in a Round Three blockbuster.
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AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE ROUND TWO 2015/16
BRISBANE versus ADELAIDE (Holloway Field, Newmarket)
GAME ONE: BRISBANE 4 defeated ADELAIDE 3
Outhitting the Bandits thirteen to seven, Adelaide would be ruing their failure to convert scoring opportunities as they stranded eleven runners on base and lost another two at the plate as the Bandits player stellar defence late in the game.
Starters Steve Chambers (Adelaide) and Rick Teasley (Brisbane) did solid jobs for their clubs and the game was deadlocked at three apiece leading into extra innings. With a curfew in place, the tie-breaker rule was applied, and Brisbane pinch-hitter Maxx Tissenbaum delivered the decisive blow with a run-scoring infield grounder in the bottom of eleven. With a two-run homer in the fourth, Nick Ciuffo was terrific for the Bandits, while Kyle Petty (three hits), Travis Demeritte (two hits, two walks and two RBIs), Jordan Cowan and Landon Hernandez brought the offence for Adelaide.
GAME TWO: BRISBANE 7 defeated ADELAIDE 6
Adelaide endured another heartbreaking extra-innings loss after appearing to have this game well in hand with a four-run break into the bottom of nine and Matthew Swilley looking poised to collect the win after five innings of starting work. Clearly with other ideas, the Bandits exploded against Kyal Williams, exploiting a walk, a single, an Andrew Campbell double, a grounder and a Justin Williams moonshot to the tune of four runs that tied the game.
With the momentum all in his team’s favour, Brisbane fireballer Eric Green whiffed a couple and induced a ground ball to strand two runners placed on base under the tie breaker rule. Again stepping up at the death – with runners at first and second - Maxx Tissenbaum fouled a couple and lined a single into rightfield for the go-ahead. The clubs collectively used eleven on the hill in striving to contain offence sparked by Justin Williams, Aaron Whitefield and Tissenbaum for the Bandits, along with Stefan Welch, Tom Brice and centrefielder Mark Wik for the Bite.
GAME THREE: BRISBANE 5 defeated ADELAIDE 4
Although Brisbane was out of the blocks with a run in the first, the Bite would have been on pretty good terms with themselves when they drew level in the sixth and posted a three-spot in the seventh against Brisbane reliever Matt Timms – compliments of a throwing error and timely hitting by Angus Roeger and a Marc Wik double that was converted under defensive pressure.
Once again displaying a propensity to simply get the job done, the Bandits responded to manufacture four runs in the bottom half of the frame as Elroy Urbina ran into strife on a string of hits and Kevin Comer was called from the pen to put out the fire with his side under the pump and unable to make any scoring inroads against Bandits stalwart Ryan Searle – who unceremoniously slammed the gate. Josh Warner gave the Bandits a quality start, while Trent Baker carded the win before the belated Adelaide revival
GAME FOUR: BRISBANE 6 defeated ADELAIDE 4
While it was a tight defensive contest in which eleven pitchers were collectively used, the Bandits dictated proceedings and were never seriously threatened by a Bite offence that could manage just four hits – one of which was a three-run Kyle Petty blast in the top of the ninth off Tristan Crawford.
Once again, though, the Bandits were able to call upon the ever-reliable Ryan Searle to protect a lead generated largely by Nick Ciuffo – who smacked a solo bomb in the second – and David Sutherland, whose two-run blast in the fourth was followed up by a Bralin Jackson moonshot as Devon Barker replaced Matthew Williams in the fifth.
It was a powerful all-round performance by the Brisbane Bandits, who swept the series and currently share second ABL standing with Perth Heat.
MELBOURNE versus CANBERRA (Melbourne Ballpark)
GAME ONE: CANBERRA 2 defeated MELBOURNE 0
With both sides playing high quality defence, neither could gain a decisive break after Canberra opened scoring on a two-out homer by Derrick Loveless in the first. Scattering five hits over a complete-game shutout, Brian Grening was simply outstanding for the Cavalry in allowing just two Aces runners to reach third, while Aces big man Matt Larkin copped a hard-luck loss with an equally impressive outing that stretched into the ninth – when the visitors scored a second, on a sacrifice flyball by Boss Moanaroa.
This was a contest dominated by the starting pitchers – both of whom did a terrific job and were equally deserving of earning the win.
GAME TWO: CANBERRA 18 defeated MELBOURNE 6
It was a torrid start for Melbourne southpaw Matt Wilson, who was relieved with one out and three runs against his name in the top of the first after conceding two hits, two walks and tattooing another in a ragged opening for the home club. With Gareth Formisano struggling for control in the second, the Cavalry made another charge when shortstop Jason Leblebijian launched a three-run shot over the leftfield wall for a six zip lead.
When Bryan Pounds – in his ABL debut - went yard on consecutive trips, it was an ugly scoreline compounded even further when Josh Fritsch left the park with a two-run shot and David Harris followed with a solo blast. Meantime, Wade Korpi quietly went about his business for the Cavalry to card the win despite a last innings rally that produced six belated runs for the Aces, including a three-run homer by Trey Vavra.
GAME THREE: CANBERRA 6 defeated MELBOURNE 4
Jason Leblebijian put the Cavalry on the board in the first innings with a solo home run over right-centre off Aces starter Yasuo Sano, who had enjoyed an excellent start in Round One. While Sano racked up the strikeouts, Melbourne hit back largely through the person of Brad Harman, who stroked an RBI hit in the third and sent his club to the lead with a single to centrefield in the fifth as the Aces challenged Colton Turner, who relieved Steven Kent.
Relieving Sano with bases juiced in the top of six, William Wu was rocked by a first-up grand slam by Cavalry catcher Ryan Miller for a 5-2 lead, followed by a run-scoring single off the bat of Aaron Sayers. Putting pressure on Canberra reliever Phil Kish, the Aces kept the cause alive with two runs in the bottom of eight as Darryl George and Jared Cruz both stroked RBI hits to draw the score back to 6-4.
Up to the task for Canberra, Michael Click closed out the last for Canberra, which had been out-hit eight to ten but made better use of its scoring opportunities.
GAME FOUR: MELBOURNE 3 defeated CANBERRA 1
To their credit, the Melbourne Aces rebounded from a disappointing couple of days to snatch a Sunday afternoon win over Canberra Cavalry, which was strangled by Aces big man Mike McGillivray, who tossed a remarkable complete-game outing for three hits and a solitary run – in the first – when Ryan Miller singled to score Jeremy Barnes after the DH had hit safely and advanced on a walk.
While Aaron Thompson was equally efficient in holding the Aces offence over five innings, Tanner Vavra swatted a solo homer to tie the scores before stepping up again with a two-run scoring double in the bottom of six to deliver his side what became an insurmountable lead. While McGillivray and Tanner Vavra conjured up brilliant individual games, the Aces played faultless defence and would be buoyed by their finish to what had largely been an ordinary home series.
SYDNEY versus PERTH (Blacktown Sportspark)
GAME ONE: PERTH 4 defeated SYDNEY 1
While Wayne Lundgren was terrific in holding Perth scoreless over five complete, the Heat came alive as he conceded a walk and a run-scoring double in the top of the sixth before a two-run scoring single by Allan de San Miguel to snatch the lead that Sydney had held since the second – an innings which could well have produced far more than a solitary score.
Superb over six innings to nail the win, Daniel Schmidt held the Blue Sox in check before Edgar Valle and Matt Taylor combined for three innings of hitless work that was backed by another two runs in the eighth delivered by the old firm of de San Miguel, Luke Hughes and Matt Kennelly.
Despite a relatively slow start and a couple of uncharacteristic defensive errors, it was a strong win by the Heat, who out-hit the home club twelve to five on the back of timely offence headed by Correlle Prime (three doubles), de San Miguel (two hits and two RBIs) and leftfielder Derek Peterson (two hits).
GAME TWO: SYDNEY 6 defeated PERTH 1
Sydney was out of the blocks early in Game Two, taking Perth starter Jon Jones for first-innings runs compliments of a three-run bomb by Rhys Hoskins after Trent D’Antonio drew a walk and Josh Dean singled. Applying the early clamps, Blue Sox starter Alex Balog was offered further support from his offence when Mathew Smith singled to leftfield and James Yates legged out an infield hit to plate another couple before an Alex Howe sacrifice fly scored again in the fifth.
Called from the pen with two out in the top of six, left-armer Matthew Rae conceded a late run on a Tad Gold single but closed out the game to protect an outstanding outing by Balog, who scattered three hits and fanned six. Hoskins and Dean were best with the bat for Sydney, while the Heat offence was unusually subdued in the seven-innings contest.
GAME THREE: SYDNEY 3 defeated PERTH 2 (10 innings)
Sydney took the series lead with a thrilling extra innings win over Perth Heat, which was strangled for offensive production by veteran Blue Sox southpaw Craig Anderson, who was only collared in the eighth after spinning seven innings of scoreless baseball. Heat starter Nick Veale – a former Victorian – was equally impressive through the early innings before James Yates and Josh Strong both stroked run-scoring singles to hand Sydney the lead in the bottom of seven.
Not to be denied, Perth hit back in the top of eight when Anthony Caronia doubled to score Matt Kennelly and Matt Dixon crossed the plate on a passed ball after Aaron Sookee took the pill from Anderson. With scores deadlocked through to extra innings, the Blue Sox nailed a gutsy win when Jamie Westbrook and Josh Dean singled to set the table for Rhys Hoskins – who dutifully delivered with a booming double to score the go-ahead.
GAME FOUR: PERTH 5 defeated SYDNEY 3 (11 innings)
Perth forced a series split with a hard-fought win in the Sunday game decided by a two-run Matt Kennelly double in the top of the eleventh innings. Plating one in the second and two in the third off Sydney starter Jan Stoecklin, the Heat was looking good to square the series until Jamie Westbrook doubled and Josh Dean singled in the sixth to set the table for Rhys Hoskins – who doubled to score both before Trent D’Antonio singled off Perth reliever Matt Taylor to tie the game up after seven.
With both clubs looking to their bullpens for solidity, the game stretched into extras, with the quality Heat hitters again coming to the fore when it mattered. Collecting two hits and four RBIs, Matt Kennelly was an absolute star who was well supported by Allan de San Miguel (two hits), while the Blue Sox offence was led by Hoskins, Dean and Michael Quesada.