ABL Rookie of the Year Ben Lodge played in 40 games for the Bite in 2012/13. (SMP Images)
ADELAIDE, 11 May – Though the Bite missed out on the ABL Postseason, 2012/13 wasn’t without its bright spots. Outfielder Ben Lodge was named ABL Rookie of the Year for a sterling campaign, and recently, WhoWon.net.au profiled Lodge with a series of interviews.
By Greg Johns/Marinersmusings
Brandon Maurer, a 22-year-old right-hander who has never pitched above Double-A ball, earned a spot in the Mariners starting rotation on Wednesday as the team opted to send Erasmo Ramirez and Jeremy Bonderman to the Minor Leagues.
Maurer, last year’s Southern League Pitcher of the Year for Jackson, will start the fourth game of the regular season against the A’s in Oakland on Thursday.
Blake Beavan, an 11-game winner last season, earned the other remaining starting spot and will pitch fifth in the rotation, opening against the White Sox in Chicago on Friday.
Veterans Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Joe Saunders had already been announced as the first three starters when the Mariners open the season Monday in Oakland.
The 6-foot-5 Maurer earned his spot with an outstanding spring, giving up just two runs in 20 innings of Cactus League play for a 0.90 ERA with 22 strikeouts and eight walks.
“It’s been a good ride,” an elated Maurer said of his climb from a 23rd-round Draft pick in 2008. “I’ve learned so much every year, turning myself into a pitcher and not just a thrower. This year I’ve actually felt like more of a pitcher than ever, using a two-seam and throwing changeups in fastball counts and being able to throw a slider behind or ahead in the count, different types of sliders. Just going out there and learning how to pitch.”
Maurer is the first Mariners pitcher to jump from Double-A to a starting spot with the Major League club since Mike Hampton and John Cummings both made the leap in 1993.
The youngster received word from manager Eric Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis in a brief meeting Wednesday, then immediately called his parents in Costa Mesa, Calif., to pass along the news.
“My mom was getting a little choked up and my dad was just rambling on about random stuff,” he said. “But it was good.”
Maurer then celebrated briefly with some of the Minor League teammates that he’s lived with and shared time with all spring, including fellow pitching prospects Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton, all of whom were expected to get to Majors ahead of Maurer.
“We’re always rooting each other on,” Maurer said. “We have been this whole time and we still will. It’s awesome to have a good group of friends like that to just rally behind you.”
Ramirez pitched three controlled innings in a Minor League intrasquad game on Wednesday morning, but clearly isn’t ready to start again yet as he was limited to five outs with two hits, three walks and three strikeouts.
Bonderman, 30, is attempting to return to the Majors for the first time since 2010 due to extensive arm and shoulder problems. He was told the news Wednesday morning and will be given a day or two now to decide whether to continue his comeback in the Minors or announce his retirement.
The moves put the Mariners roster at 30, with decisions still pending on the fifth outfielder and final bullpen spot.
By Tyler Maun/ABLogging
It’s over. The Canberra Cavalry are Claxton Shield champions. No changing it. Done. Finito. Over. But now, the debate begins (or rages on) in earnest.
Throughout the 2012/13 season, there’s been a lot of discussion about the import quota allotted to the Cavalry and the ABL’s other five teams. For those unfamiliar, Canberra are allowed a larger number of import players from outside Australia to fill their roster due to a much smaller population base to draw from. Let’s start there.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, here were the population estimates, broken down by state/territory, for the ABL’s six markets at the end of June of 2012.
New South Wales (Sydney Blue Sox): 7,290,300
Victoria (Melbourne Aces): 5,623,500
Queensland (Brisbane Bandits): 4,560,100
Western Australia (Perth Heat): 2,430,300
South Australia (Adelaide Bite): 1,654,800
Australian Capital Territory: 374,000
Take another look at that. The difference between the home market of the Cavalry and the next smallest state in ABL play is nearly 1.3-million people. Hence the rules allowing for more leeway in the Cavalry’s roster. Canberra was the last market added to the ABL for the league’s inaugural season, and its fanbase has proven a more-than-worthy one. However, when a city’s population is ten times smaller than what would be near the median of the league, concessions need to be made, something not uncommon in sport. Expansion teams get expansion drafts. In Major League Baseball, small-market teams that lose out to big-money franchises on free agents can receive compensatory draft picks for that loss. Competitive balance is the name of the game.
The history and foundation of baseball in the nation’s capital are in relative infancy compared to many other areas of the ABL’s footprint. The ACT Baseball Association, for example, wasn’t formed until 1957, decades after the Claxton Shield was awarded for the first time, and a full century after the sport was initially brought Down Under. By comparison, other cities and states were forming leagues by the latter parts of the 19th century. Not only, therefore, is Canberra by far the smallest market in the ABL, but it’s the one with the shortest organized baseball history, as well. The foundation that exists in Victoria, WA, SA, Queensland, and NSW is still under construction in large part in ACT.
Which brings us to this season. On the heels of back-to-back wooden spoons for Canberra at the bottom of the table, revamped roster rules opened the door for the Cavalry to field a more competitive team. That’s where our story begins today. This season, beginning largely, as I can tell, after Canberra’s first series win over the Heat from 28-30 December, the whispers began to grow into full-throated complaints about the capital city’s roster. Perth’s contingent dubbed the Cavalry “Team USA,” an allusion to the amount of American imports on Canberra’s roster. No one has denied that the import portion of Canberra’s roster is the largest in the league, and the reasons, as noted above, are obvious and necessary. But has the discrepancy in imports been as drastic as that vocal minority would have you believe? You’d be surprised.
I’m going to present three teams to you and their roster breakdowns for 2012/13. These numbers are based on the Major League Baseball Advanced Media statistical records for the 2012/13 season. All totals listed are based on players who played in at least one game for the teams below.
Total number of players used during 2012/13 season: 42
Total number of import players: 15 (7 position players, 8 pitchers)
Total number of imports from the United States: 14
Total number of players used during 2012/13 season: 32
Total number of import players: 23 (11 position players, 12 pitchers)
Total number of imports from the United States: 19
Total number of players used during 2012/13 season: 31
Total number of import players: 8 (5 position players, 3 pitchers)
Total number of imports from the United States: 7
Take your pick of which of the ABL’s three teams are those listed above. I’ll wait.
Let’s start from the bottom with Team C. If your answer was the Sydney Blue Sox, you’re correct. The team that entered the last two days of the regular season with a chance at the #1 seed and a straight trip to host the ABL Championship Series is also the team that used, by far, the fewest imports this year. Sydney didn’t have a single import player (unless you count Sydney resident Dae-Sung Koo) in the league’s inaugural season and utilized only a small import base a season ago. This year, no other team in the league used fewer than 10 imports, and the next lowest total was 15. Again, the Sox used 8 (counting Koo).
Team B, as you would probably have guessed, is the Canberra Cavalry. Yes, the Cavalry used the most imports in the league. They also, however, used the second-fewest total players throughout the course of the season which proved no small factor in the extremely tight bond between the Cavs and their vocal fanbase at Narrabundah Ballpark. Furthermore, of Canberra’s imports, none came with prior Major League Baseball experience, and the vast majority came from independent leagues in the States, the lowest levels of professional baseball in America.
Now for the big one. Team A is the Perth Heat. The Heat used the second-most players in total this year (one behind Melbourne, a team that used just 10 import players and finished last in the league), and exactly 1/3 of their roster hail from the United States. Perth, yes, dealt with significant injuries at times this year but apparently drew from the largest player pool of any team in the league. More on that in a minute. Here are the roster breakdowns for the ABL’s three teams that didn’t qualify for the 2013 Postseason.
Total number of players used during 2012/13 season: 39
Total number of import players: 16 (7 position players, 9 pitchers)
Total number of imports from the United States: 13
Total number of players used during 2012/13 season: 37
Total number of import players: 15 (6 position players, 9 pitchers)
Total number of imports from the United States: 9
Total number of players used during 2012/13 season: 43
Total number of import players: 10 (2 position players, 8 pitchers)
Total number of imports from the United States: 5
Just to note, in case you didn’t notice it, Perth used the third-most American players in the ABL, one behind Adelaide for a tie for second. And in that category, it’s basically a wash because Adelaide import starter Aaron Pribanic made just a single appearance for the Bite. The Heat have also had two American managers in their history. Team USA? Interesting.
As you can see, the Aces, a team that finished in last place a year after coming in second in the league, used the second-fewest imports in the circuit despite using the most players. Victorian baseball saw young up-and-comers like Dan McGrath and Jon Kennedy get quality innings because, when the Aces needed performers, they looked in-house. That doesn’t appear to be the case everywhere else.
Let me be absolutely clear about one thing: I have no horse in the Cavalry-Heat debate. I’m not a Cavs fan, nor am I a Heat supporter. I’m an ABL fan, and to see the company line being towed with this “Team USA” nonsense is maddening. Yes, Canberra got the most imports on their roster this season. But with a population 6.5 times the size of ACT, shouldn’t the Heat be using 6.5 times fewer imports? Isn’t that just as valid of a question as to how many imports the Cavalry get?
When Perth touts their proud baseball history and the amount of talent that comes out of their youth development programs–as they 100% absolutely rightly should–why are their late-season additions Americans like Virgil Vasquez and Sean Tracey and not young Western Australians looking for their first big break? Perth had three American former major leaguers on their roster this season (Vasquez, Tracey, and Anthony Claggett). The rest of the league, so far as I can tell, had zero (unless you count Sydney’s Chris Snelling who was born in the States but is a naturalized Australian). Not to mention that an American pitcher took the loss for Perth in both games of this year’s ABL Championship Series (Claggett on Friday, Jack Frawley on Saturday) while a Canberran (Aaron Sloan) took ABLCS MVP accolades for a 5-for-8 performance against Heat pitching and another Aussie, Michael Wells, hit the eventual game-winning home run off Frawley in Saturday’s finale.
That, to me, is where the argument doesn’t hold water for those in Perth or anywhere else in the league who are crying foul. The Heat didn’t find themselves weighing the pros and cons of adding former big leaguer Vasquez for two regular season starts at the end of 2011/12 before he blew through the Postseason and collected the ABLCS MVP award. Nor did they worry when last year’s second-best starter, Geoff Brown, hailed from Washington state. Nor did they have trouble handing the 2013 ABLCS Game One start to Claggett with a dominant Perth native, and reigning ABL Pitcher of the Year, Warwick Saupold ready to go. Nor did they clarify an answer as to why import David Amberson was listed all season as a pitcher despite never pitching an inning and batting an eye-popping .380 in 19 games as an outfielder.
If you’re going to point out the color of the kettle, you have to be open to the possibility that you might be the pot.
The point is this: the imports aren’t going away. Is the import system perfect? No. Will it be looked at and likely changed down the road? Almost certainly. Canberra, however, didn’t destroy the league to the tune of a 34-11 record with an import-laden roster as Perth did a year ago. The Cavalry, in fact, went into the last weekend of the regular season with a very real shot of missing out on the Postseason and got some help from Brisbane to rebound from a game deficit to rally past Sydney to the top seed in the postseason. Anyone presenting this season as the standings being Canberra and then everyone else needs a reality check. The Cavalry finished one half-game above Sydney to take the minor premiership and host the ABLCS. One half-game.
Honestly, I would love for this to bring on an open dialogue about what’s best for the future of the league, but first, I think it’s important to take stock of the reality of where we are, how we got here, and what the situation actually is with the question of imports and competitive balance. Anything less than that, and we’re all doing each other a great disservice.
Listen. Let’s all take a deep breath and calm down. Look at where we are. Internationally televised All-Star Games and Championship Series through just three seasons. Millions upon millions of hits on our website by a monthly basis. Organizations like Baseball New Zealand openly campaigning for future ABL franchises. Look at how far we’ve come. We’re here. We’ve arrived. Are we perfect as a league through three seasons? Of course not. But the world’s greatest sporting codes weren’t perfect through three seasons. All masterpieces require growing pains and debate and stumbles and strengths to achieve greatness. But we’re on the way. Keep striding with us.
Nine months until Opening Day.
Canberra can expect a sell-out crowd for the Championship Series ( SMP Images)
Canberra Cavalry 11, Adelaide Bite 6 – Game Four
By Jessica Munoz / Canberra Cavalry
ADELAIDE –The Canberra Cavalry finished off the regular season with a bang rolling over the Adelaide Bite in game four by a score of 11-6. The win today ensures that the Cavalry not only have the first playoff berth in franchise history but also that they finish the regular season in first place to warrant them a ABL Championship Series at the Fort at Narrabundah.
The hot bats of the Cavalry are back, and just in time. The ballgame featured four home runs on the day, making eleven home runs in the four game series.
The game took a rocky start for the Cavalry as starting pitcher, Chris Motta struggled early on allowing the Bite to take the lead in the first. Motta loaded the bases then walked a run in on four straight pitches.
The Cavalry took the lead in the third. With a runner on Adam Buschini added to his record breaking season with his fifteenth home run, pushing the Cavalry ahead 2-1.
The Bite responded right back in the third to tie the game at two, on a two out home run from Ji-Man Choi.
The top of the fourth proved to be the big inning for the Cavalry, adding four runs to take what should have been a commanding lead. The inning saw the Cavalry run through the entire lineup while recording five hits. Marcus Knecht started and ended the inning for the Cavalry.
To lead off Knecht singled and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. He would then be driven home on an Aaron Sloan double, to put the Cavalry back into the lead 3-2. The last three runs would be drive home on a single by Antonio Callaway, a fielder’s choice, and another single from Jeremy Barnes.
However the cushion would not last long as Adelaide answered back in the bottom fourth to tie the ballgame back up. The comeback started with an unearned run as Josh Cakebread reached on an error and then crossed the plate to score the run on a single by Ben Lodge making the score 6-3. Motta once again got into trouble with the bases loaded and two outs. His night would be over after he walked in another run to allow the Bite to return to within two. Steve Kent would enter the game, to relieve Motta, with the bases loaded. Kent then allowed a stand up double from Stefan Welch to score two more evening the score at six.
The Cavalry offense would not stop and charged back to take the lead thanks to two big home runs. In the fifth, Josh Matavesi connected for his first long ball of the year to put the Cavalry ahead again 7-6. Then in the seventh, after Buschini was hit by a pitch Barnes added two more RBIs to his night as he drove one over the left field fence widening the gap back to three, 9-6.
In the sixth Antonio Callaway made a great catch to end the inning and busted right through the wall in right field. Then, in the eighth the boys added some insurance earning two more runs giving them a five run lead and eventually the ballgame, 11-6.
Next up for the Cavalry will be hosting the ABLCS February 8-10. The Cavalry will play the winner of the Preliminary Final between the second and third place teams to be played this upcoming weekend.
Canberra (27-19) 002 412 020 11r 13h 1e
Adelaide (21-25) 101 400 000 6r 8h 1e
W: Kent (1-1) L: Brown (0-2) S: none
HR: CAN: Buschini (15, 3rd inning off Kim, 1 on, 2 out), Matavesi (1, 5th inning off Brown, R, 0 on, 2 out), Barnes (7, 6th inning off Seguen, 1 on, 1 out) ADE: Choi (8, 3rd inning off Motta, 0 on, 2 out)
Canberra Hits: Hightower 2, Stovall 2, Buschini 2, Barnes 2, Knecht, Sloan, Matavesi, Callaway 2
Canberra RBI: Buschini 2, Sloan, Callaway, Hightower, Barnes 4, Matavesi, Stovall
Adelaide Hits: Lodge 3, Choi 2, Welch, Cakebread 2
Adelaide RBI: Roeger, Choi 2, Lodge, Welch 2
By Eric Bynum/BaseballdeWorld
The playoff picture is now set in the ABL. The top three teams in the league advance to the playoff round with the 1st place team advancing all the way to the championship. The 2nd and 3rd place teams will play a best-of-three series with the winner advancing to the championship team.
The Canberra Cavalry clinched the Australian Baseball League regular season championship with an 11-6 win over Adelaide on Sunday afternoon. This is the first time Canberra has made the playoffs in the three year history of the reformation of the league.
The Cavalry pounded Bite pitching for 13 hits, including three home runs on Sunday to power their way to the title.
Adam Buschini (2-for-2) walked twice, scored twice, and drove in two with his league leading 15th home run of the season in the 3rd inning. Designated hitter Josh Matavesi (1-for-5) hit his first home run of the season in the 5th inning, a solo shot. And Jeremy Barnes (2-for-5) drove in four runs including two on his 7th home run of the season in the 6th inning.
Every Cavalry hitter, except for one, picked up a hit on the day. Five hitters picked up two hits as well including Ryan Stovall (2-for-5) with a pair of doubles.
Ji-Man Choi had a big day for Adelaide who are still on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Choi went 2-for-4 driving in two runs including one on his 8th home run of the year. Ben Lodge (3-for-5) scored a pair of runs and drove in another in the loss.
Both starters lasted just 3.2 innings giving up 6 runs each. Neither factored into the decision. Steven Kent (W, 1-1) picked up the win in relief. Reed Brown (L, 0-2) took the loss.
The win gives Canberra the 1st place spot in the playoffs. They hold the tie breaker with Sydney, so they will host the championship series.
Melbourne Aces 1, Perth Heat 11
The Perth Heat advanced to the playoffs with an 11-1 victory over Melbourne on Sunday. Perth got a great start from Jack Frawley (W, 3-1) who tossed eight shutout innings allowing just three hits to earn the win. Tim Kennelly finished off the game for Perth in the 9th.
Blake Cunningham (L, 0-1) took the loss for Melbourne pitching three innings and giving up two runs.
Michael Ohlman (3-for-5), Luke Hughes (0-for-3), and Ryan Khoury (2-for-3) all drove in two runs.
Carlo Testa (3-for-4) collected three of the four Melbourne hits on the day.
Brisbane Bandits vs Sydney Blue Sox
The game in Sydney was postponed due to bad weather and will not be made up. The best Sydney could do is a tie for 1st place, but Canberra holds the tie breaker. Brisbane needed Perth to lose in order to have a shot at finishing 3rd place.
Final ABL Regular Season Standings:
1. Canberra Cavalry 27-19
2. Sydney Blue Sox 26-19
3. Perth Heat 25-21
4. Brisbane Bandits 23-22
5. Adelaide Bite 21-25
6. Melbourne Aces 15-31
Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, and Sydney still have much to play for on Sunday. (SMP Images)
By Tyler Maun/ABL
SYDNEY, 27 January – With just one game left in the 2012/13 regular season of the Australian Baseball League much remains to be decided in the league’s Postseason picture.
TOP OF THE TABLE
Two of the league’s three playoff spots have been clinched. Sydney notched their trip to the 2013 ABL Postseason with a victory in Thursday’s series-opening win over Brisbane and assured themselves of at least a second-place finish with a Friday victory over the Bandits.
Canberra punched their ticket to the tournament on Friday night with a victory on the road at Adelaide, eliminating the Bite from playoff contention. The Cavalry, who had lost on Thursday to slip out of a first-place tie with the Blue Sox, regained their even margin atop the table on Saturday when Sydney dropped a 4-2 decision to Brisbane and Canberra followed with a 12-2 rout of the Bite.
What remains to be seen is which side will finish the year atop the heap. The Blue Sox had the upper hand until Saturday’s games erased their one-game lead. Australia Day gave new life to Canberra’s pursuit of a regular season title. The league’s top seed earns a straight pass through to host the 2013 Australian Baseball League Championship Series from 8-10 February at their home ground.
For the Cavalry, the formula is simple. A Sunday win over Adelaide earns Canberra the right to host the ABLCS at Narrabundah Ballpark in the franchise’s first trip to the ABL Postseason. That honour would come courtesy of Canberra’s win over Sydney in the two sides’ 2012/13 season series. The Cavalry claimed six of their 11 clashes with the Sox this season.
In order for Sydney to guarantee the ABLCS would take place at Blacktown International Sportspark, the equation is more complicated. The Sox need a win on Sunday afternoon over Brisbane–which would eliminate the Bandits from playoff contention–and an Adelaide victory over Canberra to clinch the top spot. Sydney, who play Sunday’s first game from 12.30pm ET, will be eliminated from contention for the top seed with a loss this afternoon.
Two teams remain alive for the league’s third and final playoff spot. The Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat have taken down Melbourne in the first three nights of their Round 13 series, picking up their first series win since November and coming from a game behind to overtake Brisbane for sole possession of first place. Like Canberra, all the Heat need to do is win on Sunday. A victory (or a Bandits loss in their Sunday afternoon affair against the Blue Sox) seals the final playoff spot for Perth. After winning the ABL’s first two Claxton Shield titles, the Heat are fighting to defend their crowns.
The Bandits, like the Blue Sox, need help to play baseball beyond Sunday. A victory over Sydney would not ensure a Postseason trip for Queensland’s side which is still searching for its first ABL playoff berth in the circuit’s third season. The Bandits need both a win and a Heat loss to the Aces to earn their way to the 2013 ABL Playoff Series. If that happens, Brisbane would play Sydney once more at Blacktown International Sportspark with the winner moving on to face Canberra with the Claxton Shield on the line.
Brisbane Bandits (23-22) at Sydney Blue Sox (26-19)
If Sydney win: Brisbane eliminated; Blue Sox can clinch top seed with Canberra loss
If Brisbane win: Blue Sox eliminated from top seed contention, will finish #2; Bandits can clinch #3 seed with Perth loss
Canberra Cavalry (26-19) at Adelaide Bite (21-24)
If Adelaide win: Coupled with a Sydney win, Canberra finish #2 and host the 2013 ABL Playoff Series next weekend at Narrabundah Ballpark
If Canberra win: Cavalry clinch #1 seed in ABL Postseason, will host 2013 ABL Championship Series from 8-10 February at Narrabundah Ballpark
Melbourne Aces (15-30) at Perth Heat (24-21)
If Perth win: Heat clinch #3 seed, will travel to Canberra or Sydney for 2013 ABL Playoff Series
If Melbourne win: Coupled with a Brisbane win, Heat eliminated from playoff race; moot point if Brisbane lose at Sydney earlier on Sunday
The 2013 Postseason picture will come down to one day in the Australian Baseball League. An Australia Day loss by the Sydney Blue Sox and win by the Canberra Cavalry moved the league’s race back into a first-place tie. In Perth, the Heat are a win away from defending their back-to-back Claxton Shield crowns with a postseason berth.
Brisbane Bandits 4, Sydney Blue Sox 2 – Game Three
SYDNEY – Their season teetering on the brink of elimination, the Brisbane Bandits came to life on Australia Day at Blacktown International Sportspark. A four-run fourth inning got the Bandits into the lead, and a strong outing from starter James Schult made sure it stuck as Brisbane took down the Sydney Blue Sox 4-2 on Saturday. The loss dropped Sydney from sole possession of first place with just one game remaining in the regular season.
Having dropped the first two games of this Round 13 series, and with their Postseason hopes hanging in the balance, the Bandits got started in the fourth behind import C.J. Beatty who connected with his seventh home run of the season off Chris Oxspring to drive Brisbane into the lead at 2-0. Four batters later, with two outs and a pair aboard, Logan Wade doubled in David Sutherland and Brad Dutton to double the advantage at 4-0
Brisbane’s inning started with a one-out error on Sydney third baseman Shane Benson, leading three of the four runs the Bandits plated to go as unearned. Oxspring (4-3) matched Schult’s seven innings but surrendered four runs, striking out eight against two walks in the loss.
Under an afternoon sun, Schult was the story on the hill for the visitors. Brisbane’s right-hander allowed just two hits in his seven innings, striking out four, walking three, and blanking a Sydney offence that had been potent in the first two games of this series, including 13 runs on 14 hits the night before.
The Blue Sox grabbed two runs back against Bandits reliever James Albury in the bottom of the eight, but Brisbane let the home team get no closer. Justin Erasmus entered from the right-field bullpen to quell the uprising, notching the final out of the eighth before facing the minimum in the ninth. Erasmus (S, 2) struck out one and walked one.
The Postseason picture will be clearer either way after Brisbane and Sydney’s Sunday afternoon finale, the league’s first scheduled game on Sunday. If the Blue Sox win, the Bandits are eliminated, and Perth clinch the final playoff spot in the league’s three-team bracket.
Should Canberra fall in their finale at Adelaide, the Blue Sox would host the ABL Championship Series at Blacktown International Sportspark.
If Brisbane come out on top, Sydney will fall from the possibility of hosting the ABLCS, and the Bandits would need help to get into the playoffs. The Sox, then, would only be able to finish tied atop the league with Canberra but would be unable to earn the league’s top seed by virtue of losing the head-to-head tiebreaker versus the Cavalry.
With a victory, the Bandits would then wait to see the outcome of Perth’s series finale with Melbourne. A Brisbane win coupled with a Heat loss would put the Bandits into the ABL playoffs for the first time.
Sunday afternoon, the Bandits are scheduled to start Rhys Niit (2-0, 3.38) opposite Sydney’s Tim Atherton (2-1, 2.44) with first pitch from 12.30pm ET.
Brisbane (23-22) 000 400 000 4r 6h 1e
Sydney (26-19) 000 000 02x 2r 5h 1e
W: Schult (5-2) L: Oxspring (4-3) S: Erasmus (4)
HR: BRI: Beatty (7, 4th inning off Oxspring, 1 on, 1 out) SYD: none
Brisbane Hits: Campbell, Beatty, Sutherland 2, Dutton, Wade
Brisbane RBI: Beatty 2, Wade 2
Sydney Hits: Penprase, Dening, Robbins, Klein, Williams
Sydney RBI: Klein
*NOTE: Friday’s recap incorrectly stated that Sydney would clinch an ABLCS host berth with one more win. The Blue Sox still need a win and a Canberra loss to do so.
Canberra Cavalry 12, Adelaide Bite 2 – Game Three
ADELAIDE – With the Blue Sox already having lost in Sydney, a door opened for the Canberra Cavalry Saturday evening in Adelaide, and the capital city’s club didn’t miss out. The Cavalry routed the Adelaide Bite behind another monster night from ABL triple crown leader Adam Buschini to take a 12-2 victory and reclaim a first-place tie with Sydney ahead of the season’s final day.
Buschini, the league’s leader in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in, added to his totals in all three categories, going 2-for-4 with two homers and three runs batted in. He kicked off Canberra’s night with a two-run jack in the top of the first inning and added another big fly as the back end of back-to-back homers with Ryan Stovall in the seventh.
By that time, Canberra were already in front in a big way, leading 8-2 entering the seventh and 11-2 leaving it. Marcus Knecht added a home run, as well, as the Cavalry were never threatened by a Bite team already eliminated from Postseason contention. Canberra went 6-for-19 with runners in scoring position, victimising Adelaide starter Paul Mildren for seven runs (five earned) across 4.2 innings. Mildren (2-7) gave way to reliever Tim Day who didn’t fare much better, surrendering four runs in just 1.2 innings.
Cavalry starter John Holdzkom was the beneficiary of the run support, turning in a steady outing by allowing two runs over five innings. Holdzkom (4-3) struck out six against five walks in the victory and was followed by two relievers, Eric Massingham and Chris Morgan, who each pitched a pair of scoreless digs.
The playoff picture is an easy one for Canberra. One win nets an ABL Championship Series date at Narrabundah Ballpark, the culmination of a signature season for the young franchise that has already resulted in their first Postseason berth. A Sydney loss would also earn the Cavs the right to host the ABLCS from 8-10 February.
Sunday, the Cavalry will turn to Chris Motta (3-3, 6.00) with the ABL’s top seed on the line. Adelaide have yet to announce a starter for the series and regular season finale scheduled for 1pm CT.
Canberra (26-19) 230 111 310 12r 15h 0e
Adelaide (21-24) 000 020 000 2r 8h 2e
W: Holdzkom (4-3) L: Mildren (2-7) S: none
HR: CAN: Buschini 2 (14, 1st inning off Mildren, P, 1 on, 1 out; 7th inning off Day, 0 on, 1 out), Knecht (5, 5th inning off Mildren, P, 0 on, 0 out), Stovall (7, 7th inning off Day, 1 on, 1 out) ADE: none
Canberra Hits: Hightower 2, Stovall 3, Buschini 2, Barnes 3, Knecht 2, Wells, Matavesi, Callaway
Canberra RBI: Buschini 3, Stovall 3, Barnes 2, Knecht, Wells, Hightower
Adelaide Hits: Cresswell, Lodge, Latimore 2, Choi 2, Welch, Roeger
Adelaide RBI: Choi, Roeger
Perth Heat 6,Melbourne Aces 2 – Game Three
PERTH – Like Canberra’s Saturday, Perth had capitalised on an opportunity to gain valuable ground in the playoff race early in Round 13, and on Saturday, they continued it. Dan Schmidt scattered eight hits over 5.2 innings in a win, Luke Hughes belted a home run, and the Heat stepped to within one win or one Brisbane loss of a playoff berth with a 6-2 Australia Day win at Barbagallo Ballpark.
Hughes, the former major leaguer who has been hampered by injury this ABL season, returned to action this round for a Heat lineup that badly needed the veteran’s service. In the bottom of the first, he announced his presence with a two-run blast to left, staking his side to a 2-0 advantage.
After a Melbourne run in the top of the second, the Heat didn’t let up, matching that run in the bottom of the second and tacking on another in the third on a Michael Ohlman double. In the fifth, the home team wrapped up their scoring when David Ambeson doubled home Hughes and Allan de San Miguel to give Perth a 6-1 advantage.
Schmidt (7-3) operated well with the lead. Melbourne racked up hits but not runs, scoring once more in the sixth to chase the lefty but not before he qualified for the victory. The southpaw matched one walk with one strikeout and gave way to relievers Liam Baron and Scott Mitchinson who closed out the win.
For the Heat, the path to the Postseason is twofold and clear cut. A Sunday evening victory would clinch the third seed for the league’s two-time reigning Claxton Shield champions. However, if Brisbane loses on Sunday afternoon three time zones ahead in Sydney, the Heat would be into the tournament before they took the field for their finale with the Aces.
Melbourne have yet to tab a starter for their last game of 2012/13 while Perth will go with former major leaguer Sean Tracey (0-1, 10.13) who has struggled in his first two ABL starts. Sunday’s series and regular season finale is scheduled from 4.05pm WT.
Melbourne (15-30) 010 001 000 2r 9h 3e
Perth (24-21) 211 020 00x 6r 6h 1e
W: Schmidt (7-3) L: Kennedy (0-2) S: none
HR: MEL: none PER: Hughes, L (4, 1st inning off Kennedy, 1 on, 1 out)
Melbourne Hits: Beresford, Testa, Biddle, Rogers, George 2, Hendricks 2, Brooks
Melbourne RBI: Beresford, Brooks
Perth Hits: Hughes, Ohlman, Amberson 3
Perth RBI: Hughes 2, Ohlman, Amberson 2
TEAM W-L GB
*CAN 26-19 -
*SYD 26-19 -
PER 24-21 2.0
BRI 23-22 3.0
ADE 21-24 5.0
MEL 15-30 11.0
*Clinched postseason berth
The postseason picture grew a little clearer on Thursday night in the Australian Baseball League. The Sydney Blue Sox kicked off the final round of the ABL’s regular season by becoming the first team to clinch a postseason berth, knocking off Brisbane in the opener of their four-game series. In SA, the Adelaide Bite stayed alive with a huge series-opening win over Canberra, pushing the Cavalry out of a tie for first place. Out west, the Perth Heat rallied by Melbourne to keep their postseason hearts beating, as well.
Sydney Blue Sox 6, Brisbane Bandits 2 – Game One
SYDNEY – A five-run third inning was more than enough cushion for the ABL’s wins leader as Craig Anderson picked up his eighth victory of the season and led the Sydney Blue Sox to a 6-2, Round 13-opening win over the Brisbane Bandits Thursday at Blacktown International Sportspark. Coupled with Canberra’s loss at Adelaide, the Blue Sox became the first ABL club to clinch a postseason berth in 2012/13.
The Sox blasted their way into the lead in a previously scoreless game in the third. Following a David Kandilas leadoff walk and Trent D’Antonio single behind it, Sydney got on the board when Zach Penprase doubled in both runners for a 2-0 lead. Penprase scored two batters later on a James Robbins double, and Robbins and Geoff Klein scored runs in the inning, as well, to give Sydney a 5-0 advantage.
Anderson (8-2) continued his sparkling season in dominant fashion with the run support. Over seven strong digs, the lefty surrendered just two runs, only one earned, while striking out two, not issuing a walk, and allowing just five hits.
Bandits starter Chuck Lofgren was good aside from his troublesome third. Lofgren (4-3) lasted five innings in total, yielding five runs on eight hits with five strikeouts countering two walks.
After Brisbane crept to within 5-2 with a run in the fifth and one in the seventh off Anderson, the Blue Sox instituted the game’s final margin when Robbins drove in Mitch Dening with a seventh-inning double. The Sox capitalised four times in 12 opportunities with runners in scoring position. Five players recorded multi-hit nights for Sydney with Robbins leading the way with a pair of doubles and a pair of runs batted in. Penprase added two RBI, as well.
Brisbane are still very much in the playoff picture but need a strong showing in the final three games of this series to earn their first trip to the postseason in the reborn ABL. Sydney can win their second regular season crown in three years this weekend and, with it, earn the right to host the ABL Championship Series for the first time in franchise history. Friday, the Bandits will send Ryan Searle (3-1, 2.43) to the hill to face former big leaguer Brad Thomas (2-2, 2.35) of Sydney. First pitch is slated from 7.30pm ET.
Brisbane (22-21) 000 010 100 2r 6h 0e
Sydney (25-18) 005 000 10x 6r 11h 1e
W: Anderson (8-2) L: Lofgren (4-3) S: none
HR: BRI: none SYD: none
Brisbane Hits: Campbell, Clark, Beatty, Sutherland, Dutton, Rhodes
Brisbane RBI: Dutton, Sutherland
Sydney Hits: D’Antonio, Penprase 2, Dening 2, Robbins 2, Klein 2, Benson, Kandilas
Sydney RBI: Penprase 2, Robbins 2, Klein, Benson
Adelaide Bite 4, Canberra Cavalry 3 – Game One
ADELAIDE – The ABL’s tight postseason race continued Thursday night in Adelaide where the Bite, fighting to stay in the race during their strong January, squared off with a Canberra Cavalry team tied for first entering Round 13 with Sydney. Stefan Welch proved the difference for the home side. The Pittsburgh Pirates prospect belted two home runs, including the eventual game-winner in the eighth, as Adelaide held off the Cavs 4-3, closing Thursday night one game behind third place in the charge to the playoffs.
Welch started his big night in the bottom of the second inning when he took a full-count offering from Cavalry starter Brian Grening and deposited it over the right-field wall to stake the Bite to a 1-0 lead.
Canberra, a team that surged into a four-game first place lead after Round 10, slipped into a tie after a Round 11 sweep at the hands of the Brisbane Bandits, and remained deadlocked after a Round 12 split with fellow front-runners Sydney, responded in the fourth. There, the Cavalry took their only lead of the night when Marcus Knecht answered Welch’s dinger with one of his own. Sloan’s homer, a two-run blast with Ethan Paquette aboard, put the Cavalry in front 2-1.
The Bite didn’t wait long before evening the scoreboard again, getting an RBI single from Chris Adamson in the bottom of the fourth inning to make it a 2-2 game. Grening departed after six innings with a no-decision.
Adelaide starter Dushan Ruzic, the reigning Delta Air Lines ABL Pitcher of the Week from Round 12, was more fortunate. Ruzic completed the eighth inning, and Welch rewarded his side’s side-arming righty in the bottom half of that frame. There, the third baseman powered his seventh home run of the season and second of the night over the centre field wall, scoring his 2012 Altoona Curve teammate Quincy Latimore in the process. The two-run blast put Adelaide in the lead for good.
Welch’s second homer came at the expense of Canberra reliever Brodie Downs (0-1) but made a winner out of Ruzic (5-2) who struck out five and allowed two runs on six hits in his eight innings. Andrew Kittredge (S, 6) allowed a run in the ninth but got out of the game’s final dig with the save.
The Bite are now one game off the pace of Brisbane and Perth who are tied for the league’s final postseason spot at 22-21. Canberra, meanwhile, have dropped to a game back of first-place Sydney. Friday night, these teams duel in the second contest of this four-game set with first pitch scheduled from 7pm CT.
Canberra (24-19) 000 200 001 3r 8h 0e
Adelaide (21-22) 010 100 02x 4r 8h 0e
W: Ruzic (5-2) L: Downs (0-1) S: Kittredge (6)
HR: CAN: Sloan (2, 4th inning off Ruzic, 1 on, 2 out) ADE: Welch 2 (7, 2nd inning off Grening, 0 on, 0 out; 8th inning off Kent, 1 on, 2 out)
Canberra Hits: Buschini 2, Murphy 2, Knecht 2, Wells, Sloan
Canberra RBI: Sloan 2
Adelaide Hits: Cakebread 3, Latimore, Welch 2, Paquette, Adamson
Adelaide RBI: Welch 3, Adamson
Heat 4, Melbourne Aces 3 – Game One
PERTH – The Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat entered Round 13 in an unfamiliar place in the new ABL: outside the playoff picture. Corey Adamson made sure they weren’t there for long.
Adamson drove home the game-tying and winning runs with a single in the bottom of the ninth, and the Heat moved into a tie for the league’s final postseason spot by virtue of a 4-3 walk-off win over the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces.
Melbourne appeared poised for victory in the bottom of the ninth, leading 3-2 on a gutsy go-ahead squeeze bunt from the eighth. Jesse Barron got Perth’s rally ignited quickly, though, doubling to lead off the final half-inning of regulation against Melbourne’s Zach Arneson. After an Aaron Bonomi groundout moved Barron to third, reigning Helms Award winner Tim Kennelly walked, setting the stage for Adamson.
The centre fielder didn’t disappoint, lacing a sinking liner to left field that got under the glove of Melbourne’s Josh Hendricks, allowing Barron to score easily and Kennelly’s pinch runner David Amberson to motor home all the way from first with the game-winning run. Heat players flooded out of the dugout, mobbing Adamson and Amberson both in an electric celebration.
Adamson’s heroics capped off a thrilling opener of this four-game Round 13 series at the ballpark that has hosted each of the first two ABL Championship Series. The Aces led 2-0 after the first inning on Brad Harman’s two-run single and held that advantage until the sixth. Their lead came in spite of a brilliant performance by Perth starter Anthony Claggett who struck out a jaw-dropping 14 over just six innings.
Melbourne’s Lewis Thorpe, a 17-year-old left-hander in his first professional start, was superb. The southpaw allowed just one run on three hits against one of the league’s most historically potent offences, one boosted by the Thursday night return of former big leaguer Luke Hughes from injury. Thorpe struck out five and walked two but was saddled with a no-decision.
Perth evened the score with a run in the sixth and one in the seventh before Melbourne’s bold call in the eighth. In a 2-2 game, Aces skipper Phil Dale called for a squeeze play, and James Beresford executed perfectly, laying down a sacrifice bunt that scored Hendricks from third to give the Aces the lead back. Unfortunately for Melbourne, it wouldn’t last long.
Arneson (1-2) took the loss and suffered his second blown save in an otherwise brilliant season that has seen him post a miniscule 0.93 ERA in 17 appearances. Brendan Wise (2-1) earned the victory in the comeback.
Though the Aces are already eliminated from postseason contention, Perth are very much in the picture. The league’s reigning champs, on the ropes in a tough January, moved even with third-place Brisbane with the victory and Bandits loss. Friday evening, this series continues from 7.20 at Barbagallo Ballpark. Kevin Reese (2-5, 3.81) takes the mound for the Aces opposite reigning ABL Pitcher of the Year Warwick Saupold (0-1, 2.08) for Perth.
Melbourne (15-28) 200 000 010 3r 12h 2e
Perth (22-21) 000 001 102 4r 8h 3e
W: Wise (2-1) L: Arneson (1-2) S: none
HR: MEL: none PER: none
Melbourne Hits: Beresford 3, Testa, Harman 2, Biddle, Davies, Rogers, Hendricks, Brooks 2
Melbourne RBI: Harman 2, Beresford
Perth Hits: Adamson 2, Hughes, de San Miguel, Ohlman, Barron, Bonomi, Khoury
Perth RBI: de San Miguel, Adamson
TEAM W-L GB
SYD 25-18 -
CAN 24-19 1.0
BRI 22-21 3.0
PER 22-21 3.0
ADE 21-22 4.0
MEL 15-28 10.0
By Tom Fee/ABLBuzz
Spending too long calculating something very important didn’t leave me with much time for any kind of eloquent dialogue to go along with it.
Basically I (insert complicated mathematics here) and in the end came up with two different calculations on each teams probabilities to reach the playoffs.
I learned something important though. The reason why MLB fans get this awesome “Playoff %” stat on the league standings and ABL fans don’t is because it’s freaking hard to calculate these things when accounting for tiebreaker scenarios (which the MLB doesn’t worry about). How can one teach a computer all of the rules on this ridiculous page and get it to spit out results after every game? You can’t – unless the ABL starts employing Chinese factory genius children to do this…or me (if you’re reading this Ben Foster, I want a salary…or any kind of pay…or just a free sandwich?)
Anyway, rambling over. This is Scenario One. Scenario One calculates each teams playoff chances if each game was decided by a 50/50 coin flip. Not a bad approximation since each team’s record is around 50%:
So basically it sucks to be Adelaide or Perth right now.
As a Heat fan, I decided that 16% was too depressing for me, so I figured I could weight the outcomes based on each teams current winning percentage. After all, the Heat probably have an easier opponent in the .357 Melbourne Aces than Brisbane have against the .571 Blue Sox. Thus my more “accurate” results come out as Scenario Two (trust me, this took some pretty decent mathematics that I got from my Year 12 probability textbook – you should be impressed, ladies):
Much better for a Heat fan at 24% but extra sucky if you’re Adelaide.
Here are a few things of note on tiebreakers:
With the Cavalry having the tiebreaker over the Blue Sox, they Cavs are much more likely to finish in first place and host the ABLCS.
The Bandits hold pretty much every tie-breaker scenario and this can lift them to the top of the table in many situations if they can claw back the two games they trail on Sydney and Canberra. With the other sides it can go either way. here’s handy table to look at:
ADE BRI CAN PER SYD
ADE 0 -2 -3 0
BRI 0 3 2 0
CAN 2 -3 4 1
PER 3 -2 -4 0
SYD 0 0 -1 0
Obviously you would want to update this as the series progresses.
Feel free to give me credit by thanking me on my twitter handle here. (Or at least use it to complain about how arrogant I’m being right now – it’s 1am, and I don’t know why, but that’s my excuse!)
EDIT: The following list is a summary of what I think needs to happen for each team to get through. Any errors let me know and I’ll fix it!
Can go through if they sweep Canberra and the Heat don’t win their series.
Will also go through with a 3-1 series win providing the Heat lose their series and Brisbane lose their series.
Have to win two or more games than Brisbane do this weekend in most cases.
A Brisbane 3-1 win is the worst case scenario for the Heat. If the Bandits win their series 3-1 and Canberra win at least one game, the Heat are done – no matter what. This is the only scenario in which the Heat will not go through if they sweep Melbourne.
A Brisbane sweep means the Heat can move over Sydney if the Heat win their series.
The Heat are eliminated if they lose the series.
The Bandits only have to worry about the results in Perth if they do not win their series. A series win will guarantee the Bandits a postseason place.
If the Bandits don’t win their series they have to hope the Heat don’t win two or more games than they do.
A 3-1 series win will not only guarantee the Bandits a postseason berth, it will guarantee the Blue Sox also qualify, while virtually eliminating the Heat.
To finish top, the Bandits have to win their series against Sydney and win two more games than Canberra.
Even if Sydney are swept they are through except under the following scenario; If Perth wins their series against Melbourne and Canberra don’t win their series against Adelaide then Sydney will be out.
Sydney go through if they win at least one game.
To finish top Sydney have to win more games than Canberra and not lose their series with Brisbane.
A sweep will guarantee that Canberra is out.
One win will guarantee Canberra is in.
Canberra has to win at least as many games as the Sox to get to first, providing they don’t drop two games to Brisbane while doing so.
Both these Managers will be after a sweep this weekend (SMP Images)
The thirteenth and final round of the Australian Baseball League begins Thursday night with all six teams in action across the country. With five teams in postseason contention battling for the top three spots, every game counts as no club has yet to safely secure their position in the playoffs. Over 50 potential playoff scenarios exist—fans will have to get to the ballpark to see how this historic weekend plays out.
Five teams can still earn a top two finish and therefore a right to host a round of the playoffs and three teams (Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane) can still finish the regular season in first and win the right to host the ABL Championship Series. The potential for four-way ties in both first and second place also exists. In the event of a tie, which occurred at the end of 2011-2012 ABL regular season (four-way tie), the ABL has numerous tie-breaking procedures in place—to read more about official playoff procedures and tie-breaking procedures, click here.
Currently sharing first place with the Sydney Blue Sox, the Canberra Cavalry driven by Rolfe Renault will hit the road to take on the Adelaide Bite Proudly Presented by SA Power Networks, who are only two games shy of a playoff spot. The Blue Sox will host the Brisbane Bandits who claimed the final postseason position after round 12 but will have to hold their ground to advance after round 13. For the first time this season, the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat are not sitting in playoff position, as they fell to fourth place last week. One game behind Brisbane in third, the Heat will return home to face the league cellar dweller Jet Courier Melbourne Aces. While not eligible to make the playoffs this season, the Aces still have the potential to keep the Heat out of the postseason.
Adelaide Bite (20-22) vs. Canberra Cavalry (24-18)
The Canberra Cavalry meet the Adelaide Bite for just the second time this season after the Cavalry won the first matchup in the capital three games to one. This time the Bite will be on home turf after splitting their last two series while the Cavalry have lost seven of their last nine games in the past two rounds. Canberra is still in co-possession of first place with Sydney and even though Adelaide is ranked fifth on the league ladder, the possibility of reaching the playoffs has not been eliminated. Canberra has the opportunity to make their first run for the postseason in ABL history.
Canberra leads the league in team batting average (.295) while Adelaide sits at the bottom of the ABL, hitting .239 as a team. The Cavalry also boast the most home runs (45) but Adelaide trails in second with 34 long balls. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the Cavalry boast the league’s top hitters, with three of their infielders ranking among the top five batting averages in the ABL. Adam Buschini leads the ABL in home runs (11) and runs batted in (41) and is tied for the league best in runs (31) with teammate Kody Hightower.
Adelaide claims the round 12 Delta Pitcher of the Week Dushan Ruzic, who started Sunday against the Aces and pitched six scoreless innings. Ruzic allowed only two hits and struck out nine batters in his fourth win of the season. After an eight-hit weekend, infielder Jeremy Cresswell became the first Bite player to reach 100 ABL career hits.
Perth Heat (21-21) vs. Melbourne Aces (15-27)
Back-to-back league champions the Perth Heat find themselves at an unfamiliar position—one game out of a playoff spot at the final round of ABL play. The Aces, who competed against the Heat in the 2012 ABL Championship Series, have the opportunity to seek revenge on Perth in the final round of the season. Melbourne has been stuck in the league cellar for the majority of the year and although the Aces cannot qualify for the postseason, they could still do considerable damage by taking wins from Perth this weekend and eliminating the Heat’s postseason potential for the first time in ABL history.
Matchup history between the two teams this season has resulted in five wins for the Heat and two wins for the Aces. In their last two rounds, Perth has only managed to win three games and Melbourne has slid by with two wins.
Perth and Melbourne both have two players that have appeared in all 42 ABL games this season—Carter Bell and Allan De San Miguel for the Heat and Elliot Biddle and Carlo Testa for the Aces. With all four players on the roster for round 13, the potential to finish out the full season at 46 games is probable. Only two other teams have a player who has appeared in as many games (Sydney’s Zach Penprase and Brisbane’s Josh Roberts).
Sydney Blue Sox (24-18) vs. Brisbane Bandits (22-20)
With both teams currently in possession of an ABL playoff invitation, the Sydney Blue Sox and Brisbane Bandits have a lot on the line coming into the final series of the season. Sydney has a narrow lead above the Bandits in this season’s matchup history, with the Blue Sox winning four games to the Bandits’ three. In their last two series, both teams have been on fire with Brisbane winning eight out of nine games and Sydney winning six out of eight games. This season would mark Brisbane’s first ABL postseason appearance.
On the mound, Sydney has the lowest team ERA (3.12) but is trailed closely in second by Brisbane (3.26). Brisbane has the most team strikeouts (338) with Sydney stuck in a three-way tie at the bottom of the league (296 strikeouts).
Brisbane and Sydney rank in the middle of team batting statistics, with Sydney hitting .255 as a team and Brisbane batting .251. Sydney’s Trent D’Antonio earned round 12 honours as Delta Player of the Week after going 12-for-21 (.571) against Canberra with nine runs scored and seven RBIs. Mitch Dening continues to lead the ABL in hits (57) and claimed the league’s top batting average (.350).
Brisbane’s C.J. Beatty scored ten runs in his last eight games while catcher Cody Clark has remained consistent at the plate throughout the season, batting .310 and collecting at least one hit and one run in each game against Perth last weekend.