Bandits on track with first-up win

Kingsley Collins

1 February 2019

 

Brisbane Bandits will fly home from Perth in buoyant mood after striking first in the Australian Baseball League Championship Series with a hard-fought 3-2 win over the Heat – who had their chances but struggled for offensive conversion behind a classy outing by their starter John Anderson.

 

In front of a capacity crowd at Harley-Davidson Ballpark, Ryan Bollinger carded the win for Brisbane, whose hitters were not at their imperious best but still did enough after posting a two-spot in the second of a thrilling contest becoming of two quality ball clubs.

 

As the Bandits close in on a fourth successive Claxton Shield title, the best-of-three series will resume at Holloway Field on Saturday night, with a third game – if required – to be played on Sunday.  

 

ABL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES GAME ONE:   BRISBANE BANDITS 3 defeated PERTH HEAT 2

 

A TJ Bennett single in the first was nullified as the Heat turned a slick double play and threatened in the equaliser, when Pete Kozma tugged a double into the leftfield corner that Perth was unable to convert against Brisbane ace Ryan Bollinger – who was forced to throw more pitches than he would have liked early in the contest.

 

Logan Wade doubled off John Anderson to lead off the second for Brisbane, who scored the first on a Wynton Bernard double – followed by a second run on a misjudged infield play.

 

Playing solid defence, the Bandits thwarted another Heat challenge – after Chris Clare had hit safely – though the home side created another opportunity in the third, when Tim Kennelly hit safely and advanced on a difficult infield play off the bat of Pete Kozma. Tristan Gray drew a walk to load the bases with none out and Kennelly scored on a wild pitch to break the force before Bollinger escaped the innings with minimal damage.

 

With Anderson settling beautifully into his work, Clare stroked a second hit, advanced on a muffed pick-off and crossed the plate on a timely Tim Kennelly single to square the ledger after four.

 

Retiring a dozen Bandits on the trot, Anderson ran into strife in the top of seven, when Wade smacked another double and scored on a Wade Dutton single to spell the end for the Heat lefty – who had been superb over 6.2 (seven strikeouts) before handing the ball to Brooks Hall with the Heat trailing by a run.

 

Recovering from a scratchy start to do an impressive job for the Bandits (two earned runs over six), Bollinger was relieved by Loek van Mil, who retired the first three hitters he saw and was accorded some defensive support with a timely double play in the bottom of eight, after Robbie Glendinning had doubled to give the Heat a chance that amounted to naught as Brisbane nailed a crucial double play.

 

Holding the narrowest of leads into the last, Brisbane called upon seasoned closer Ryan Searle to complete the formalities with little fuss as his side held on for a vital first win in the Championship Series.  BOX SCORES

 

Game Two of this best-of-three series will be played at Holloway Field, Brisbane, on Saturday 2 February, starting at 6.00 PM local time. Game Three (if required) will be played at Holloway on Sunday 3 February (time to be announced).