Bandits, Atherton despatch Heat in Claxton decider
2 February 2019
Already boasting an extraordinary record in the revamped Australian Baseball League – and creating a dynasty of sorts in recent times - Brisbane Bandits posted an unrivalled fourth Claxton Shield championship win on the trot with a thumping 9-4 result over Perth Heat at Holloway Field this evening.
Always a tough proposition at home, the Bandits rode a superb eight innings by Tim Atherton while blasting six in the third to give his club an effectively unassailable lead against a gallant Perth outfit that chipped away through the middle innings but was outgunned by the home club – which delivered another thrilling outcome to a capacity local crowd.
Smacking four solo homers to the Bandits’ three, Perth was unable to match the scoring conversion of Brisbane – which enjoyed contributions right throughout an ever-dangerous lineup that was irrepressible in recording this historic win.
Congratulations to Brisbane Bandits! A four-peat in any sport is a remarkable achievement – one that is unlikely to be emulated in Australian Baseball League for many years.
ABL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES GAME TWO: BRISBANE BANDITS 9 defeated PERTH HEAT 4
Arguably not assisted by its travel schedule in the past several days – two trips across the continent to the Perth Heat’s sole trek to Holloway Field – Brisbane Bandits entered Game Two favoured to wrap up the championship on Saturday night.
Any such lag was not apparent early days, however, as Bandits starter Tim Atherton retired Perth in order in the first and Andrew Campbell drove a two-out shot over the centrefield wall off Heat starter Conor Lourey before Wade Dutton followed suit with a crushing homer in the second for a two-zip lead.
A Riley Unroe single and successive walks spelled the end for Lourey, who was relieved with none out in the bottom of three by Nick Veale – who conceded a soft RBI-single to Logan Wade, then struck out Donald Lutz and Wade before a wild pitch allowed Brisbane to plate a fourth run as the game already threatened to unravel.
When David Sutherland tugged a bases-clearing double for Brisbane and scored on another wild pitch, Bandits supporters were poised to pop the corks with their side holding an eight-run lead after three, although Pete Kozma kept Heat hopes alive with a booming solo homer in the top of four – a shot that was negated by TJ Bennett, who took a waist-high pitch deep to maintain the lead.
Relieving Veale in the bottom of four, Daniel Schmidt steadied the ship and Chris Clare belted a solo homer to again demonstrate that the Heat were not about to go away, although a poised Atherton was backed by solid Brisbane defence against the heart of the Perth order.
Robbie Glendinning swatted a straight-away round-tripper in the top of six and wily Heat left-armer Schmidt continued to quell the Bandits offence until Wynton Bernard doubled, advanced on a grounder and Nathan Kuchta was summoned from the Perth pen to escape the seventh with his side still facing a herculean task.
Belting an opposite-field homer – his second bomb of the evening – Heat superstar Glendinning blotted the copybook just marginally for Atherton, whose winning effort over eight innings (ten strikeouts and two walks for four earned runs) was quite outstanding in the context of a game that was always going to be tilted in favour of the quality offence on both clubs.
Singles to Unroe and Bennett in the bottom of eight created a belated opportunity for Brisbane, who were unable to convert against Perth fireballer Brooks Hall but had plenty in reserve as Ryan Searle did what he does best in closing out a historic win for the Bandits – who held the whip hand in this game after their six-run breakout back in the third.
Congratulations to the Brisbane Bandits organisation, players and supporters! Well done to Perth Heat – winner of its division and a dominant force in the Australian Baseball League that came up short against a tough opponent on this occasion. BOX SCORES