Nathan Haas from behind the plate for the Bandits (SMP Images)
Hass starts chasing dream in Orlando
By Chuck Ellis/Brisbane Bandits
Young Bandit catcher Nathan Hass is currently in Orlando, Florida on the first stop of his trip into professional baseball. Scouts from the Atlanta Braves organisation were impressed by Hass during the 2012 Under 18 World Championships in Seoul, impressed enough to sign him to a seven year contract. After he finishes the teams’ extended spring training, Hass will be assigned to play “rookie” ball for the Gulf Coast Braves in Florida.
In an interview with a Sunshine Coast newspaper recently Hass was quoted as saying:
“I’m more worried about flying than going over”.
And on the start of his quest
“It’s only minor league, but everyone’s got to start somewhere, I suppose.”
Hass comes from deep sports bloodlines with his mother Julie having represented Australia in softball and his father Wayne being a former Windsor A Grade player himself.
The 19 year old made his debut for the Bandits on January 25 of this year after being on several series rosters as a designated youth player along with fellow recent signees Connor MacDonald (Houston) and Todd McDonald (Texas). Hass also finished out the Greater Brisbane League season as part of the A Grade premiership winning Windsor Royals. Prior to Windsor, he started his baseball playing days as a junior catcher with the Redcliffe Padres.
Hass has proved to be a versatile player who can play first base and in the outfield along with catching.
The Bandits network and Queensland baseball wish him well for the season and look forward to having him back with the clubs for the 2013-2014 campaign.
Bandits’ pitcher, Jason Kilby, has signed with the Cincinnati Reds. The 21 yr old Brisbane native is yet another product of the ABF’s Gold Coast academy having represented QLD in all the under age National Championships including the 2012 National U23 Champions.
He has had a couple of seasons with the Bandits, 2012/13 being his best to date relieving in 6 games for a 1-0 season and a 3.21ERA.
He will report to the Reds for extended spring training in Arizona early next month.
Bandits celebrate another big win (SMP Images)
By Chuck Ellis/Bandits
After a 23-22 season that saw the team just miss out on a berth in the 2013 Australian Baseball League finals, the Brisbane Bandits take away several positives and fans who attended their games will have exciting game day memories to get them through the off season. The team was exciting to watch and with the exception of a couple of games, were never truly out of a chance to win any contest.
Highlights of the season were:
Josh Roberts becoming the first Australian born player to reach the 100 career hit plateau in the Bandits’ season opening game against tough Sydney Blue Sox pitcher Chris Oxspring.
Chris Smith breaking the Australian Baseball League strikeout record when he whiffed fifteen Melbourne Aces during a 4-0 Round Nine Bandit win.
Chris Smith (16-19 November 2012, 13-15 December 2012 and 27-31 December 2012) winning three Delta airlines Player of the Week Awards.
Cody Clark taking out the Delta Airlines Player of the Week award for Round Four (22-25 November 2012) after a monster performance against the Adelaide Bite that saw him drive in nine runs and hit two home runs over the weekend.
C. J. Beatty also grabbed a Delta Airlines Player of the week award for the 10-13 January 2013 weekend after a three home run, eight runs driven in performance.
Statistically for the year, Hirotoshi Onaka (.308) and Cody Clark (.299) were the top Bandit batters average wise. Clark (50) had the most hits for the year along with leading the team in doubles (13) and runs batted in (28). C. J. Beatty (6) topped the home run hitters and Onaka (7) had the most stolen bases.
Several Bandit pitchers had a major role in keeping Bandit games close through the season. The Bandit pitchers were led by Chuck Lofgren and James Schult who finished with four wins each. Justin Erasmus (0.42), Chris Smith (2.31) and James Schult (2.47) had commendable ERA’s. Smith also pitched two complete games and had two shutouts. Ryan Searle (4) and Justin Erasmus (3) topped the staff in saves. Chris Smith (65), Chuck Lofgren (59) and James Schult (41) topped the strikeout charts.
There were several positives taken from the season that will undoubtedly create a buzz through the off-season heading towards November. The Bandit broadcast mainstays Glen Long and Brett Montgomery looked back on the season with fond memories with Long citing the pitching of Chris Smith as one of his top highlights of the season. Montgomery broadcasted through an injury riddled season that saw him have ankle and hernia operations showed total dedication to the team,stating that he is ready to fill any role for the Bandits in the future from pitching staff through broadcaster, even on field enforcer if needed.
General Manager Paul Gonzalez was impressed with younger players Rory Rhodes, Andrew Campbell and Ryan Battaglia saying “the younger players showed maturity and look ready to lead the Bandits toward the Claxton Shield in the 2013-2014 ABL season”. Gonzalez felt that “if the team continues to find strong imports as in the last two years, the team will contend”.
Other fans enjoyed watching the big hits from Clark, Beatty and Roberts or the mound performances of Smith, Lofgren and Erasmus. Several new fans and families took away positive memories and looking forward to seeing more baseball next season. The avid fans can also follow various Bandits in their US Minor League seasons.
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.
Todd McDonald is the latest Australian pro signing.
When Todd McDonald was selected in the Australian Cal Ripken team as a 12yr old he was said to have expressed two ambitions. One was to see Disneyland on his trip to the US and the other was to play professional baseball. It appears that he has fulfilled both as this week he signed with the Texas Rangers and the Aussie Cal Ripken team did get to Disneyland way back then.
Todd’s signing hasn’t followed the well worn path of other young Australians who are scouted in Australia, generally by Australian based scouts. In Todd’s case he had to travel to the Dominican Republic for an extended try out in front of the Rangers brass at their Dominican Academy. Todd was seen by the Rangers’ Asian scout when he was in Brisbane scouting the Japanese players in the Bandits organisation and such was his determination to get signed that he accepted an invitation to travel to the Dominican with no guarantees regarding his future prospects but with the opportunity to sign.
The Redlands’ club is the team he tried out for as a junior when he was looking for a break from Little Athletics (his mother, Gail, was determined he wasn’t going to sit around doing nothing and offered him cricket or baseball). From success at Redlands he gained state selection as well as the Australian Cal Ripken team. He attended the ABF’s Major League Academy on the Gold Coast last year and so joins a lengthening list of MLBAAP graduates who have turned pro.
Todd in his Cal Ripken tournament days playing for Australia
Josh Roberts has made the World Baseball Classic squad for the first time (SMP Images)
By Anna James/Bandits
BRISBANE: It’s Australia’s time to shine on the global baseball stage, and they’ve called up two of Brisbane Bandit’s finest to join them in the fight.
Team Australia was announced on Friday, and the Brisbane Bandits will be well represented by right-handed pitcher Ryan Searle and power hitting outfielder Josh Roberts.
The 23-year-old Searle, who first gained international attention in 2007 when he signed with the Chicago Cubs organisation at age 17, is about to enter his seventh year in the minor leagues.
2011 was a fantastic year for Searle; boasting a 1.59 ERA in 16 games with the Daytona Cubs which saw the righty promoted to the Cubs AA Affiliate Tennessee Smokies where Searle recorded a 5-3 record with a solid 3.51 ERA in 23 games with 66 strikeouts which earned him a place in the 2011 World Baseball Cup. In the Cup he dominated the opposition from Nicaragua and Canada, finishing 2-0 with a 0.74 ERA.
Searle is one of 63 players currently under contract with professional clubs and is tipped to be among the next group of Australians to join Grant Balfour and Travis Blackley in the major leagues.
The 2013 World Baseball Classic roster features eight former Major Leaguers and two Olympic Silver medalists. 26-year-old Josh Roberts is a home-grown hero and a consistent performer who divided four years between Australia and the USA during his time with the Cleveland Indians organisation.
In 2006, Roberts reached High-A ball and found success as a catcher, infielder, first baseman and even on the mound. Roberts joined the Brisbane Bandits in 2010 for the inaugural Australian Baseball League season. Hitting the Bandits first ever home-run on Nov 26. Roberts also walked away from the season with MVP honours, leading his team in hits, walks, doubles and home-runs.
Both Roberts and Searle have represented Queensland in baseball at every level including the Queensland Rams and their local clubs in the Greater Brisbane League competition.
“It’s always an honour to pull on that green and gold uniform,” said Roberts to Fox Sports last week. “And I’ve enjoyed every opportunity I’ve had to play for Australia.”
The Australian national team did not advance past round one in 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics although they did showed promise by defeating Mexico 17-7 and breaking the record for most hits in a game with 22.
Hopefully, a fifth place finish in the 2011 IBAF Baseball World Cup points to Australia performing well come March.
The tournament will be played from March 2nd to the 19th in three venues; the first stop will be in Taichung, Taiwan in Pool B against Chinese Taipei, South Korea and The Netherlands.
Nathan Crawford studies the on field action from the dugout. ((SMP Images))
By Anna James/Bandits
Through three professional organisations, three Greater Brisbane League teams and countless representative sides comes the story of Tristan and Nathan Crawford.
The former Canberra Cavalry flame-throwers have returned to their home state to join another Australian Baseball League team, the Brisbane Bandits for the 2012-2013 season.
Since they were toddlers, the right-handed hurlers have developed an innate sense of the game and the knowledge of how the other operates as a team player and a game saver. And over these years, the two have helped each other become the pitchers they hoped to be.
“He’s always got my back,” Nathan said of brother Tristan. “I was fortunate enough to play on a couple teams with him in the States and hopefully, again next year in a Bandits uniform.”
Unfortunately, Nathan has been without his “right-handed man” during his current ABL stint, as Tristan is recovering from Tommy John surgery; however he can always be found looking on from the stands whenever his younger brother Nathan takes the mound.
“It’s hard to explain,” said Tristan of how he guides his younger brother from afar.
“Going through injury myself and watching him being injured, it’s one of those things that I’m there for him; it’s a brotherly love.”
The brotherly love extends to a healthy rivalry “Everything that we play or we do we like to compete against each other” said Tristan listing futsal, table tennis and volleyball as games outside of baseball where the Crawford boys have gone head to head “since we were kids.”
Born in Anchorage, Alaska, Tristan, 30, pursued his interest in America’s favourite pastime all the way down under. “Since kids,” Tristan explains “We stuck with it and stayed on top of it.”
Tristan pitched in the minor leagues for nine years after signing with the Minnesota Twins in 2000. In five appearances for Australia in the 2007 Baseball World Cup, Tristan had a 2.45 ERA and in 2008, he reached Triple-A ball.
Stylistically, the Crawford brother grew in to two very different pitchers. Tristan, a self-described “straight over-the-top guy” encouraged Nathan’s sidearm while “messing around” in their backyard.
“Why not try it – we thought,” he said when he first witnessed Nathan’s slingshot motion. “It’s a different view of how he pitches and how he plays the game, and he is getting rewarded for it. I’m very proud of him.” The second eldest of four boys, 26-year-old Nathan Crawford, has developed in to force on the hill.
Following his performance at in the U18 QLD Rams team, Nathan was awarded a scholarship at the Major League Baseball Australian Academy Program. Eleven days into his training program at the MLBAAP, injury struck, forcing him to return home.
A bout of bicep tendonitis put the young prospect out of action, but the 19-year-old hopeful was undeterred, telling the Australian Baseball Federation in 2005 “I never lost sight of my dream and with Tristan’s encouragement I gradually brought my velocity back up.”
Nathan’s velocity coupled with his 6’5″ frame made it hard for him to fall off the scouts radars; and Nathan returned from injury will hungry eyes on him from several GBL teams and he decided on Runcorn Indians.
2005 was Nathan’s breakout year when he signed to the Minnesota Twins, the same organisation Tristan joined five years earlier. The brothers were united a several points during their career, never veering too far from their beloved Australian competition.
“One of the things that we’ve found from different teammates is that when we’re around, things seem to get a little lighter,” Tristan commented. “We have a bit of fun but stop when it’s time to get down to business.”
“It’s not really about placing expectations on ourselves,” explained Nathan. “As a team everyone knows their role by now and we’ve played enough games.”
Keep focused. To succeed in this game, according to the Crawford’s, it’s really that simple.
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