ABL Week Nine: time's running out....

AJ Mithen

10 January 2019

 

Two weeks left and we’ve all to play for, as they say in the classics. Every series in ABL week nine has a direct impact on the playoff situation, creating a myriad of possibilities so dense I’m not going to try and explain what path leads to what outcome. It’s just too close and too complicated. Let’s use some hyperbole to explain what’s on the line.

 

It’s an enormous weekend for Adelaide and Sydney. A bad weekend in Week Nine, and their postseason fate lies in a final round matchup between the two at West Beach.

 

It’s a massive weekend for Canberra. They took four from four against Sydney but need to roll that form into a matchup with Brisbane to stay in a postseason box seat.

 

It’s a colossal weekend for Perth. If they can get maximum wins at home against the cellar dweller Geelong-Korea, that may just be enough to lock away the Southwest Division.

 

It’s a fantastic time. Who extends their season? Who falls away? Who’s on the knife’s edge? Share your thoughts over on the Alumni FACEBOOK page. Enjoy the weekend!

 

We’re keen to get your thoughts on ABL week eight. Let us know on the Australian Baseball Alumni FACEBOOK page. To debate these previews, make suggestions or to offer information, visit @AJMithen on Twitter. All efforts are made to show correct broadcast times, but for definitive broadcast information check the official ABL website.

 

BRISBANE BANDITS versus CANBERRA CAVALRY (Holloway Field)

 

Game 1:   Thursday 6.00 pm local time (Forecast weather: 30, shower or two)

Game 2:   Friday 6.00 pm local time (31, partly cloudy)                                  

Game 3:   Saturday 2.30 pm local time (31, partly cloudy)                                                     

Game 4:   Saturday 6.00 pm local time (31, partly cloudy)     

 

What a belter to set up round nine. A rematch of round four’s ABLCS rematch where Brisbane tipped an incredibly hard fought series 3-1. Each game was up for grabs all the way down to the final out and it wouldn’t surprise to see it happen again.

 

Isn’t it funny how things work out for champion teams – Sydney’s collapse against Canberra has left the top of the Northeast Division wide open.

 

Canberra have won 13 of their last 16 games and have well and truly shaken off some early rust. Brisbane travel to Geelong for week 10 but they won’t be looking past the Cavalry and the opportunity to cement a playoffs position with a series win.

 

Thank goodness this series is in Brisbane too, so we can see all the games on the fantastic Bandits TV streaming service. Brisbane’s match coverage is by far and away the best in the ABL.

 

Prediction: Split

 

It’s all on the pitching at Holloway Field and keeping those pop flys inside the fence. This should be a fascinating weekend between two clubs with genuine championship intent. Make sure you keep tabs on it.

  

MELBOURNE ACES versus ADELAIDE BITE (Melbourne Ballpark)

 

Game 1:   Friday 7.00 pm local time (33, sunny)

Game 2:   Saturday 5.00 pm local time (28, mostly sunny)                

Game 3:   Saturday 7.30 pm local time (28, mostly sunny)                

Game 4:   Sunday 2.00 pm local time (29, sunny)                    

 

This is a critical series for Adelaide if they want to stay in playoff contention. The Bite are three games behind the wildcard spot but only one game behind Melbourne and second place in the Southwest Division.

 

Regardless of how things play out, season 18/19 has been a vast improvement for Chris Adamson’s men. The promise shown late last season has continued through has been progressed with canny squad additions like Markus Solbach, Aaron Whitefield and Mitch Edwards. Add in great support from their import crew and the Bite are a credible opponent who wouldn’t look out of place in the postseason.

 

Melbourne had their chances to win a home series against Perth but couldn’t make it count, dropping a two game lead to split the weekend.

 

The Aces have found their now traditional pitching crew juggling act a little tougher than usual this year. Dushan Ruzic leads by example but Melbourne’s trademark quality defence needs a touch more hitting support.

 

It’s going to be a tight series and whoever can get the upper hand will have well and truly earned it.

 

Prediction: Split

 

Melbourne’s hitting just hasn’t sold me yet and their pitching depth is being tested. But a split here still sees them in the driver’s seat for a postseason spot, and that’s my result.

 

PERTH HEAT versus GEELONG-KOREA (Barbagallo)

 

Game 1:   Thursday 7.00 pm local time (26, mostly sunny)                

Game 2:   Friday 7.00 pm local time (28, mostly sunny)                     

Game 3:   Saturday 7.00 pm local time (32, sunny)                

Game 4:   Sunday 1.00 pm local time (30, sunny)                 

 

A little ABL history lesson for you all. Did you know that Geelong-Korea’s first ever win was against the Perth Heat? It was a 7-1 result in game one of round two down at Geelong. That win was followed by three straight losses where GK were outscored by Perth 47-6.

 

A series in Perth is a tough ask at the best of times for visiting clubs and try as I may, I can’t find a way to give the visitors much hope of creating the upset. Perth have the hitting, pitching and defence head to head and first place in the Southwest Division is on the table.

 

Geelong-Korea’s hitting was keeping them in their share of games but the bottom has dropped out in the last few weeks, unable to keep pace with their opponents. Combine their poor hitting with the ABL’s worst pitching and all signs point to an unpleasant weekend for the visitors.

 

There have been eight grand slams hit in the ABL this season. Five of them have been against Geelong-Korea (and one of them was hit by Geelong-Korea). They allow far too many baserunners and Perth have the weapons to make them pay.

 

Prediction: Perth win

 

It’s not a good weekend to be a fan of the Surfing Baseballs. Some flickers of goodness have come and gone during the year, but Perth have a job to do and they’ll be emphatic about it.

 

SYDNEY BLUE SOX versus AUCKLAND TUATARA (Blacktown International Sportspark)

 

Game 1:   Thursday 6.30p m local time (23, light showers)                                                    

Game 2:   Friday 6.30 pm local time (30, shower or two)

Game 3:   Saturday 2.30 pm local time (34, mostly sunny)

Game 4:   Saturday 6.00 pm local time (34, mostly sunny)

 

Week four of the Tuatara’s five-week Aussie adventure takes them to Blacktown and a shellshocked Blue Sox opponent.

 

Maybe shellshocked is a strong word to use, but there weren’t many out there who thought Sydney would be swept out of Canberra with their hefty division lead all but gone and scrambling to keep their playoff spot.

 

Auckland took one game from five in Brisbane and like I say each week, there was plenty of fight in the squad but not the polish to take wins. The grit and effort Auckland have shown is admirable, but the cold hearted assessment of a 10-22 record is that they’ve found things tough in season one. Obviously that changes next year with a new home ground.

 

If Auckland can pinch one or two wins, Sydney are going to be in a real fight for the postseason, something which was unthinkable two weeks ago.

 

Prediction: Sydney win

 

The Tuatara can make the playoff picture a lot more complicated with a win here and there, but I can’t see them taking the series against a Sydney side with plenty on the line. Blue Sox simply must take this weekend and they should do so. It’s not likely to be emphatic, but they won’t care one bit.

 

Image:  Bite Facebook