By Tyler Maun
Adelaide Bite (7-5) at Canberra Cavalry (6-6) – Narrabundah Ballpark
Coming off of a series victory versus Brisbane, the Adelaide Bite carry their league-leading pitching staff into the capital to clash with a Canberra Cavalry side riding momentum of five wins in their last six games.
The Bite boast a 4.24 staff ERA, best in the ABL through their first 12 games. Adelaide’s arms have been led by starting pitchers Morgan Coombs and Craig Stem, both of whom rank in the top 10 on the ABL ERA leaderboard. Coombs turned in his best ABL outing in Round 4, pitching 6 2/3 innings and allowing just one earned run while striking out eight and walking one to earn his second consecutive victory. Los Angeles Dodgers import Stem is posting the league’s best strikeouts per nine innings pitched among starters with 18 K’s in his 14 1/3 frames.
On the offensive side, Adelaide’s Craig Maddox checks in second in the league with a .360 batting average while Dodgers import Aaron Miller is just three places behind at .354.
The Cavalry have responded to five losses in their first six games with the inverse of that mark in their last six. Canberra rattled off three straight wins in Round 4 to capture a series victory on the road at Perth in a rematch of the last two ABL Championship Series. The Cavs’ pitching staff and offense both rank second in the ABL at a .275 team batting clip and 4.85 ERA.
Canberra fan favourite Jack Murphy and his fellow Toronto Blue Jays import Christian Lopes lead the way at the plate for their side, batting .350 and .341. On the mound, Canberra’s Tim Atherton, a New South Welshman and member of the Oakland Athletics organisation is unbeaten at 3-0 through his first three starts and boasts a 1.69 ERA, fourth-best in the league.
This series marks the first matchup between these two clubs in the 2014/15 season. Adelaide won five of their eight meetings with Canberra a season ago.
THU, 27 November – 7:00pm AET
FRI, 28 November – 7:00pm AET
SAT, 29 November – 6:00pm AET
SUN, 30 November – 1:00pm AET
Perth Heat (5-7) at Sydney Blue Sox (9-7) – Blue Sox Stadium
The Sydney Blue Sox opened their 2014/15 campaign with a cross-country journey to Western Australia. Round 5 sees the Perth Heat return the favour with a journey to Blue Sox Stadium.
Sydney kicked off the season with wins in their first two games at Perth, but the Heat rebounded for consecutive victories to close out the series and earn a Round 1 series split at Barbagallo Ballpark. Perth, however, have not flashed their usual dominant form yet this season. The Heat are just 5-7 through their first three series, their worst mark through 12 games since the ABL restarted play in 2010/11.
The Heat’s powerful offence is in its regular form, leading the league with a .295 team batting average, 20 points higher than the next-best team in the league. Jordan McDonald leads all qualifying batters with a .368 average, and Tim Smith and Colorado Rockies import Joey Wong are in the top five in the league in on-base percentage.
On the mound, however, Perth pitchers have slumped to a league-worst 5.63 staff ERA, and the Heat have surrendered 71 runs against the 70 they’ve scored. Perth arms have registered a league-low 78 strikeouts while walking 59 batters, one away from matching the most in the circuit.
The Blue Sox continue to be paced by a core group of local products. First baseman Josh Dean has taken over the team lead with a .356 batting average while outfielder and former big leaguer Trent Oeltjen is batting .333 and leading the ABL with a .704 slugging percentage. On the mound, veteran Craig Anderson has posted a 3.00 ERA while going 2-2 through his first four starts this season. Legendary Sox closer Dae-Sung Koo has put up a 2.35 ERA in seven appearances, earning saves in both of his opportunities.
Sydney are coming off of a series split at Melbourne in Round 4 while the Heat fell in three of four to visiting Canberra. The Heat won five of eight versus Sydney last season.
THU, 27 November – 7:00pm AET
FRI, 28 November – 7:00pm AET
SAT, 29 November – 6:00pm AET
SUN, 30 November – 2:05pm AEDT
Melbourne Aces (4-8) at Brisbane Bandits (9-7) – AFA Stadium at Holloway Field
Two weeks ago, the scene and matchup were the same. In Round 5, the Melbourne Aces hope for better results as they visit the Brisbane Bandits at AFA Stadium at Holloway Field.
Round 5 already marks the third series meeting between these teams in 2014/15 and their final matchups unless they see each other in the ABL Postseason. Brisbane have enjoyed their games against the Aces to this point, winning six of eight matchups while outscoring Melbourne 46-31 in those games.
The Bandits snapped their first three-game skid of the season with a Sunday win over Adelaide to avoid a series split. Brisbane have relied heavily on solid work on the mound from starting pitchers Jaspreet Shergill and Ryan Searle who have combined to go 3-0 with 0.95 and 2.89 ERAs respectively. Shergill’s mark is second-best in the league, and Searle’s is ninth. Bandits closer Matt Timms is tied for the ABL lead with two saves.
Brisbane’s bats have been impressive this season, as well. Chicago White Sox import and fan favourite C.J. Beatty is one of three league leaders with five home runs while Tampa Bay Rays import Thomas Coyle leads the league with 21 hits. Coyle and his Rays teammates Granden Goetzman and Johnny Field occupy three of the league’s top five spots in stolen bases. The Bandits have blasted 22 home runs as a team, most in the league.
Melbourne captured two wins from four games against Sydney in Round 4 and hope to change their fortunes against Brisbane. The Aces will rely on Round 4 Delta Air Lines Player of the Week Kellin Deglan and Pitcher of the Week Cody Buckel. Melbourne’s Texas Rangers imports swept the league’s weekly awards for last weekend. Buckel is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA so far this season, and Deglan lifted his batting average 69 points with a stellar four-game showing against the Blue Sox.
The series marks just the second time Melbourne will have hit the road in 2014/15, both times to Queensland.
FRI, 28 November – 6:30pm AEST
SAT, 29 November – 1:00pm AEST
SAT, 29 November – Game 2
SUN, 30 November – 1:00pm AEST
By Alexis Brudnicki / Melbourne Aces
A lot has changed for Josh Davies over the course of his baseball career.
From his early start, following in his father’s footsteps and falling in love with America’s favourite pastime to currently playing for the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces as a veteran and leader on the team, the 29-year-old infielder has had a variety of experiences with more than a decade in the game.
“My dad played when I was younger and I started hanging around all the time,” Davies said. “I was bat boy and all that sort of stuff, and then I started playing from that…
“I played footy until I was about 13 or 14 and then baseball, playing with the state teams ended up being too much travel because I grew up in Bendigo which is two hours away, so travelling to Melbourne for baseball made it pretty hard to play any other sport.”
Focusing solely on baseball through his secondary school years and signed by Grant Weir and the Los Angeles Angels organisation as an 18-year-old in 2004, Davies hadn’t thought about the possibility of earning a professional contract until it was all said and done.
“Not until I actually signed,” Melbourne’s third baseman said. “I had plans of going to college. I had been trying to do research and had sent a lot of letters and emails to colleges because I thought that was the route I was going to have to take. Then it just happened that I played in the nationals and played pretty well on the under-18 team.”
Leaving his home continent for the first time, Davies started his pro career with the rookie-class Arizona League Angels, a tough adjustment for the young player.
“It was a big one,” he said. “It took a fair while because it was so far away, I was so young; I had never lived anywhere else. So the first time being away from home and I go to the other side of the world, you don’t know anyone, and it’s pretty hard.
“It took a bit of time but then once you get to know people and you start to make good friends it’s the same as anything. It becomes easier and those friends take you back to their house, take you to their family, so that makes you a lot more comfortable because you feel like you’ve got somewhere you can go instead of being miles away and not being able to go anywhere.”
Helping the transition were a few other Australian players within the organisation.
“Rich Thompson was [with the Angels], Michael [‘Tubby’] Collins, the manager [of the Canberra Cavalry], Nick Kimpton from Canberra, Brendan Wilson from Australia and that was it,” Davies said. “Wilson was the same age as me so we went together. I had him but I didn’t really know Rich and I didn’t know Tubby and I didn’t know Nick.”
Despite some unfamiliarity with the other Aussies in Angels camp to start, it didn’t take long for them to find each other. The tight-knit community that stems from baseball down under is often even stronger when the season begins overseas.
“For sure,” Davies said. “That’s where I sort of became pretty good friends with Tubby and through him I met other people. You have your own friends but you always have that connection of being Australian so you’re a bit tighter than you are with other people purely because of that.”
Released by Los Angeles at the end of the 2007 season, Davies returned home to a curious request. The San Diego Padres wanted to see what he had in his arm and asked him if he might be interested in taking a shot at the mound. He threw a bullpen session and signed with the Padres for the following year.
“That was a little bit different,” Davies said. “That was a big adjustment going from being on the field every day and actually doing stuff to just standing in the outfield and shagging [during batting practice] and then running, not getting to swing and take infield.
“It was hard because I was used to being out on the field and being energetic and being able to bounce around and do stuff like that, because that’s the sort of person I am on the field. When I’m at home I’m pretty relaxed, but it’s hard because you’re used to so much activity and then you go stand in the outfield for an hour and do nothing and then go to run and that’s it.”
Since the inception of the revamped Australian Baseball League five years ago, the only professional competition Davies participates in is that with the Aces. The native of Bendigo is incredibly proud to wear the Melbourne uniform year after year.
“It’s important for me because I’ve grown up with these guys,” Davies said. “We’ve played club ball but we play against each other all the time. Just to be able to play with other Australians in good competition like it is, and to be able to play against guys from overseas and guys who have got contracts in Double-A or Triple-A and still be able to perform against them, it’s pretty gratifying to know you can stay with them and still handle a little bit.
“It’s good, it’s just a bit different now when you have to work all week and then play, rather than just sit around all week and play.”
With a 10-month-old daughter, a full-time job, and a full slate of Aussie baseball, times have definitely changed for Davies. He admits he wouldn’t be able to do it without some help.
“It’s pretty hard,” Davies said. “My wife [Kristin] does a lot of the work, a lot of work around the house and my mom [Rosie] helps out a little bit as well. But it pretty much all falls to Kristin so she does a ton of stuff. If she wasn’t so good about it I probably wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Off to a great start this season with the Aces and just picking up steam, so far the highlight of Davies’ career has been the opportunity he had to play for Team Australia in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
“I got to play on the national team a couple years ago, which was pretty good,” he said. “Anytime you get to play on the national team it’s always great. Even when I was younger, signing professionally was always a second goal to being able to play on the national team.
“The national team was more important to me for some reason. I don’t know why but that was always something that I wanted to do. I got to do it a couple years ago in the World Baseball Classic which was pretty cool, so that would be my biggest achievement.”
Putting on the green-and-gold uniform for the first time was everything as good as Davies thought it would be.
“It was awesome,” he said. “We got to play against the Japanese Samurais at Osaka in front of fifty thousand people. To be able to not look like I’m 12 years old trying to face up to someone who’s a big leaguer [was great]. We faced [Masahiro] Tanaka, the pitcher from the [New York] Yankees.
“He pitched in one of the games and we were leading 2-0 going late in the game. So [it’s nice] to be able to play against guys like that and knowing that you can still handle it.”
Refraining from focusing on personal statistics and with a different outlook on the game than he once had, Davies has altered goals for each ABL season, though his eyes still remain on the ultimate prize.
“Being older, it’s more about setting an example for younger [players] to play the game the right way,” he said. “Rather than showing up and having a personal goal of hitting .350 or hitting 10 home runs, I’m trying to set an example for the young kids so they see someone who goes out, takes a good round of [batting practice], gets ready the right way, takes ground balls during [batting practice] and plays the game the right way…
“I just want to set an example more than [achieve] any personal goals, other than winning and trying to be the best you can be…It’s still a big deal to some people.”
By Tyler Maun / TheABL.com.au
SYDNEY – From the Lone Star State to Melbourne Ballpark, Texas Rangers imports Cody Buckel and Kellin Deglan have followed similar paths during their North American baseball offseason. Now, they’ll share Australian Baseball League hardware. Melbourne Aces teammates Buckel and Deglan have been named the league’s Delta Air Lines Pitcher and Player of the Week for their team’s Round 4 series split with the Sydney Blue Sox.
A 2010 second-round MLB Draft selection of the Rangers, Buckel dominated in his Round 4 start against Sydney. The 22-year-old from California struck out 12 Blue Sox batters while allowing just one unearned run on four hits and one walk over seven innings. Buckel lowered his ERA from 3.38 to 1.80 while picking up his second consecutive victory in Melbourne’s 4-2 Friday night win.
Through his first 15 ABL innings pitched over three appearances, Buckel has allowed just three earned runs and has struck out 19 batters while walking only four. His earned run average ranks fifth-best in the ABL, and his opponents’ batting average allowed, at a paltry .222, also ranks fifth in the league. Buckel spent his most recent Minor League Baseball season with Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach and went 5-6 with a 5.73 ERA in 34 appearances, 30 of them coming in relief.
Deglan sparked his season at the plate with a terrific showing versus the Blue Sox in Round 4. The Canadian catcher/first baseman batted .412 (7-from-17) with three doubles, two home runs, and eight runs batted in. Deglan lifted his average from .206 to .275, his on-base percentage from .250 to .315, and his slugging percentage from .500 to .647 with his prolific weekend.
Taken one round before Buckel in the 2010 draft, Deglan spent the 2014 season with two Rangers affiliates. The 22-year-old batted .247/.314/.450 with 16 home runs and 68 RBIs between Class A Hickory and Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach in 101 games.
Melbourne won two of their four games against Sydney, finishing Round 4 with a 4-8 overall record. The Aces travel to Brisbane for a Round 5 series against the Bandits.
He spent his first 2 years 2011/12 in Rookie League hitting .243 and .260 followed by a year in Short Season A [.286] and then A Ball this past season where he hit .255.
Its a tough gig to sign as a position player and continuous improvement at the plate is necessary to keep your job in the minors. That he struggled with the bat as he rose up the league made his long term prospects problematic despite his ability to play in a number of defensive positions. He hit only 6 HRs in his professional career but showed speed on the base paths churning out 32 doubles.
The 21 yr old had a season ending operation on his hand in August. That was really tough luck for him as he was on a tear his last month, hitting safely in 8 of his last 10 games in an 8 game streak and for an average of .389. Due to the surgery he is unlikely to play for the Aces this season.
The Melbourne Aces are starting a new chapter at Melbourne Ballpark.
Sunday’s victory over the Sydney Blue Sox marked the last day that the organisation would have General Manager Windsor Knox at the helm. Knox will help see the Aces transition to new leadership and then take some time off to spend with his children and wife Melanie before starting a new job in January.
“It’s a pretty emotional day,” Knox said. “It was an emotional day yesterday with my family here. My wife just sent me a picture of us the first day of baseball five years ago at the [Melbourne] Showgrounds, and we took a picture yesterday [at Melbourne Ballpark] so it’s pretty emotional.
“And telling the staff that I was leaving – everybody knew it was inevitable because I already tendered my resignation, but I also just met with the playing group and told them. I met with [manager] Tommy [Thompson] and Tommy and I were pretty emotional with each other…it’s an emotional ride right now.”
Knox began his tenure with Melbourne’s Australian Baseball League team just before the Aces started their inaugural season in the revamped circuit. He’s seen the franchise grow leaps and bounds since he first jumped on board, and is excited for what the future holds at Melbourne Ballpark.
“When I took over the team 30 days before Opening Day [in 2010], I was given a set a plans to build a field,” Knox said. “I had $450,000 to build a baseball field and I had an estimated cost of $780,000. So I had to sit around a table of 10 contractor and say, ‘I’m not paying you; I’m not paying you.’ I didn’t make any friends really early on but I only had 30 days to get it done.
“But for this franchise alone we started out Year 1 having no marketing at all and since then we’ve done three worldwide award-winning television commercials, we’ve had viral videos, we’ve been on the radio on a regular basis, I think we’ve got the best stream in the game; I think we’ve got the best call team in the game.”
The American GM is happy with what he’s been able to do in Melbourne and most excited about the opportunities the Aces have offered to those who have come through the doors for a season or two.
“I’m most proud of the people we’ve had come through who have gotten jobs; their dream jobs,” Knox said. “When you take somebody who doesn’t know anything about baseball and has never done baseball before and they go back to the United States and they get a job with the [Boston] Red Sox or they get a job with the [Cincinnati] Reds, to me that’s a sense of accomplishment.
“Probably the second thing is doing the television commercials which I thought were great…but the people the most, and we’ve got the best facility in the country.”
Overseeing the transition to the team’s new General Manager and also the project manager for the upcoming All-Star Game in Laverton on 17 December, the ABL has sent Alex Pellerano to Melbourne. He holds the role of National Commercial Manager and Franchise Consultant for both the league and Baseball Australia. Both Pellerano and Knox look forward to the future of the Aces.
“[The league] is still growing,” Knox said. “It’s only five years old; that’s a young corporation…We still have a lot of things to work on but the calibre of talent has grown exponentially since Year 1. We have some first-round draft picks here and we’ve never had first-round draft picks so the game of baseball is great.
“It’s a fun day out, different from AFL, different from rugby, different from soccer; we provide a different entertainment value. So if we were to tell anybody out there looking at the game of baseball, we’ve got the best talent in the country.”
Knox hopes to continue to see the organisation flourish, and to be remembered for being a part of what once was.
“My wife asked me yesterday, ‘What is your legacy?'” Knox said. “And I think this franchise is probably in a good position right now to do a lot of good things. It’s a tough marketplace – we’re in Melbourne, there are more sporting teams than there are in any other city – so if I left a legacy behind I hope people remember me as positioning this franchise to succeed because we’ve done a lot of good things here.
“I hope I helped the cause because I’m a diehard baseball fan. I love baseball and to work in baseball is an honour.”
Legendary closer to meet fans, attend 2014 All-Star Game
By Tyler Maun / Australian Baseball League / theabl.com.au
Australian Major League All-Star Grant Balfour will be making a series of appearances across the ABL next month, including trip to the 2014 ABL All-Star Game, presented by Levi’s, at Melbourne Ballpark on 17 December. Balfour will participate in Training with the Pros sessions as well as greet fans, sign autographs, and more.
Balfour became Australia’s second big league All-Star when he was named an American League representative while with the Oakland Athletics in 2013. The right-hander from Sydney is one of the nation’s most accomplished baseballers and professional athletes, having pitched for 11 seasons in Major League Baseball with Minnesota, Milwaukee, Oakland, and Tampa Bay.
One of baseball’s most effective and reliable relievers over the last five years, Balfour made 65 appearances out of the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen during the 2014 MLB season. The 36-year-old has seen action in over 500 games in the big leagues during his 11-year career and has represented Team Australia in his career, including as a member of the 2000 Olympic team for the Sydney Games.
Balfour’s tour schedule is listed below (subject to change)
12 December: Sydney | Blue Sox v Bite
13 December: Canberra | Cavalry v Aces
14 December: Sydney | Blue Sox v Bite
17 December: Melbourne | 2014 ABL All-Star Game
19 December: Brisbane | Bandits v Cavalry
By David Polkinghorne/The Canberra Times
Canberra Cavalry pitching coach Hayden Beard thinks starter Tim Atherton has what it takes to follow former Cavalryman John Holdzkom into Major League Baseball.
Beard also thought the Cavs had the best pitching roster in the Australian Baseball League despite giving up a dozen runs in their 12-11 loss to reigning champs Perth Heat in Perth on Thursday night.
Atherton has been Canberra’s best pitcher so far this season, with two wins from his first two games, and he was starting for the Cavalry in game two against the Heat.
He learnt his craft from former Cavalry manager Steve Schrenk, who played Major League Baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies before the Sydney Blue Sox poached him.
But he is back at his spiritual home and Beard thought he could be the next Cavalryman to get to the Show, after Holdzkom starred for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the charge to this year’s MLB play-offs.
“He’s good, he’s got the stuff, he’s got the work ethic, he’s got the mentality, he’s got it all,” Beard said.
“If he maintains his health this year, then he’s only a phone call away [from the Majors].
“Wouldn’t that be good? We’d love a few more big league alumni. Let’s just hope Tim Atherton’s the next one.”
For the first six games of the season, the Cavalry offence struggled, but it has come to life in the past few games.
The defence struggled against Perth on Thursday night, but Beard was confident his bullpen would start to find their ABL feet.
“There’s definitely nothing to be concerned about, they’ve been throwing the hell out of the ball the first few series,” he said.
“Our pitching’s great, the arms that we’ve brought in to complement the Australian arms we’ve got are probably the best in the league as far as pitching goes.
“When we get [Steve Kent] back in a month or so, that just boosts us even more.”
Beard said Aaron Thompson, who has returned from playing for Australia at the under-21 World Cup in Taiwan, would put pressure on the Cavalry starters to perform.
By Pat Ryan / Brisbane Bandits
Brisbane Bandits 7, Adelaide Bite 2 – Round 4, Game 4
ADELAIDE – After a game three loss, the Bandits entered game four with eyes on avoiding the series sweep from Adelaide and did so via some power from their bats in a 7-2 Sunday victory at Norwood Oval.
Starting pitchers were at it again on Sunday, holding the offences to minimal success over the first few innings. Bite starter Matt Williams made it through the first three innings of play facing ten batters and only allowing one hit. For the Bandits, Jaspreet Shergill worked three innings, facing the minimum nine batters and only allowing two base runners without surrendering a hit.
In the fourth, however, Brisbane’s shortstop Tommy Coyle started off the inning with a single to right field. After a fielder’s choice retired Coyle and replaced him with Goetzman on first, Beatty cracked his fifth home run of the season on a towering shot over the right field fence. The Bandits took the early lead 2-0.
After Shergill retired the first batter of the fifth inning on a pop up to third base, first baseman Craig Maddox notched the first hit of the game for the Bite on a single through the left side of the field. Shergill’s no-hitter was broken up on the single, but he recovered, getting out of the inning with no runs scored.
Josh Roberts provided more run support for Shergill in the sixth when he ripped a stand up double to right with the bases loaded, scoring two and extending the Bandits lead to 4-0. The Bandits then jumped out to a 5-0 lead when Coyle hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded, scoring Andrew Campbell.
The Bite broke up the shut out in the sixth on a two-run home run off of the bat of Aaron Miller. The home run came off of relief pitcher Sam Holland and narrowed the Bandits lead to 5-2.
The Bandits’ Roberts struck again in the seventh with a two run home run to right field, increasing the lead for Brisbane to 7-2.
With the victory, Brisbane improve their overall record to 9-7 entering their fifth series of the year. The Bandits face off against familiar foe, the Melbourne Aces, for a four-game series starting this Friday, 28th November, at AFA Stadium at Holloway Field. First pitch is set for 6:30 PM.
Brisbane (9-7) 000 203 200 7r 9h 0e
Adelaide (7-5) 000 002 000 2r 5h 0e
Brisbane: J Shergill (W, 2-0) 5ip 1h 0r 1k 2w S Holland 2ip 3h 2r 0k 1w D Cooper 1/3ip 1h 0r 0k 0w 2/3ip M Goto 2/3ip 0h 0r 0k 1w C-H Lin 1ip 0h 0r 3k 0w to R Battaglia.
Hits: T Coyle 2 G Goetzman 1 CJ Beatty 1 (hr) D Sutherland 2 A Campbell 1 J Roberts 2 (hr).
Adelaide: M Williams 5ip 6h 2r 2k 1w W Mathis 0ip 2h 3r 0k 2w T Scott 2ip 1h 2r 2k 1w K Hooper 1ip 0h 0r 2k 0w J Tols 1ip 0h 0r 2k 0w to R Gale.
Hits: B Dixon 2 A Miller 1 (hr) C Maddox 1 B Lodge 1.
By Mitch Keller / Melbourne Aces
Melbourne Aces 10, Sydney Blue Sox 4 – Round 4, Game 4
MELBOURNE – It looked like more of the same for the Melbourne Aces in the top of the first inning.
With Hayden Godbold on the Melbourne Ballpark hill for the home team, the visiting Sydney Blue Sox put up three runs in the opening frame, causing Aces faithful to shake their heads on a gorgeous afternoon and think, “here we go again.”
There’s a reason baseball games go nine innings however, and the Aces bats came alive in the mid and late innings and formidable pitching from reliever Kazuki Miyata led Melbourne (4-8) to a 10-4 victory over the Blue Sox.
Sydney (9-7) started the game with three consecutive hits, scoring two runs off of a Joshua Dean single to right. Catcher Will Swanner reached on an error and allowed Alex Howe to bat and drive in Dean for an early 3-0 Blue Sox lead.
“[Godbold] gave up a crooked number early,” remarked Aces manager Tommy Thompson. “But he ended up giving us five quality innings. He gave us everything we needed out of him.”
The Australian right-hander would settle down in the second and stayed efficient until being pulled for Miyata. In five innings, Godbold scattered eight hits, gave up three runs (two earned), struck out seven and walked two.
Miyata showed signs of fatigue early in his first frame, giving up a double to right fielder Trent Oeltjen who would later come around to score off an Alex Glenn single. The Japanese relief pitcher escaped further damage after a Will Swanner liner was plucked by a diving Scott Wearne in right field.
“[That was] huge,” said Thompson. “[Wearne] got an opportunity to go out there [for injured Dylan Cozens], made a tremendous diving catch, saved at least two runs… one of the biggest, if not the biggest play of the game.”
Melbourne’s bats came alive in the sixth down by two after Kellin Deglan and Josh Davies reached on consecutive walks. Wearne advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt and reached safely to first on an error before designated hitter Justin Huber drove in two runs with the bases loaded to tie the game. Before the dust could settle, left fielder Josh Hendricks followed the leader and doubled in two runs of his own, putting the Aces up 7-4 at the end of the sixth.
The Aces added some insurance in the eighth via a run driven in by Brad Harman and an opposite-field home run by Deglan, giving him a league-leading five home runs on the season. The home team would finish with 10 total runs on 11 hits.
Miyata (2-0) performed brilliantly out of the pen earning the win while pitching four innings in relief, giving up just one run on two hits, and fanning five in his last Melbourne Aces appearance before returning to Japan.
Oeltjen, Dean, and Howe, who all had three hits in the game, paced the Blue Sox offensively.
Seventeen-year-old starting pitcher Lachlan Wells got a no-decision for Sydney, pitching five innings of three-hit baseball, giving up four runs, walking five, and fanning five Aces hitters. Vaughan Harris took his second loss of the year as he pitched two and one-third innings out of the pen, giving up five runs (one earned).
Sydney (9-7) 300 001 000 4r 10h 3e
Melbourne (4-8) 002 005 03x 10r 11h 3e
Sydney: L Wells 5ip 3h 4r 5k 5w V Harris (L, 0-2) 2 1/3ip 6h 5r 1er 1k 0w W Lundgren 2/3ip 2h 1r0k 0w to W Swanner.
Hits: T Bortnick 1 T Oeltjen 2 J Dean 2 A Glenn 2 A Howe 2 Z Shepherd 1.
Melbourne: H Godbold 5ip 8h 3r 2er 7k 2w K Miyata (W, 2-0) 4ip 2h 1r 5k 1w to C Numata.
Hits: A Engel 1 C Numata 2 B Harman 1 K Deglan 1 (hr) J Davies 2 J Huber 1 J Hendricks 2 J Cruz 1.
Bandits, Blue Sox to take on elite club from Industrial Leagues
By Australian Baseball League / theabl.com.au
Some of Japan’s largest companies are getting set to compete in Australia with corporate pride on the line – however, the battleground won’t be in the boardroom, but a baseball diamond.
The Japanese Amateur Baseball Association (JABA), the overarching administrators of baseball in Japan, are sending an elite All-Star team from the Industrial Leagues to take on the Brisbane Bandits on Dec 2-3 and the Sydney Blue Sox on Dec 5th & 7th in the newly created “JABA Series”.
In Japan, baseball is not only the country’s most popular sport; it’s their national corporate pastime. For decades, companies have used their Industrial League or Shakaijin baseball team as a vehicle for marketing and boosting the morale of employees and neighbouring residents, essentially hiring employees whose only job is to play baseball.
The Industrial Leagues are comparable to some of the strongest leagues in the world, including high-level minor leagues in the US, with many Shakaijin players having already competed in Japan’s premier sports league, Nippon Professional Baseball.
ABL General Manager Ben Foster is buoyed by the opportunity to once again showcase players from teams like Panasonic, NTT, Mitsubishi and Osaka Gas to Australian fans.
“We are excited to be able to further strengthen our long-standing relationship with the Japanese baseball community and be a part of a unique long-standing tradition of Industrial League teams touring Australia,” he said.
“It’s like if Qantas played Westpac, each recruited some of the country’s best cricketers and played in front of a nationally televised audience.”
The JABA series will mark the first time a Japanese corporate team has played in Australia for nearly 20 years and the first time they will face an Australian Baseball League side.