By Megan Grygorcewicz / Perth Heat
Perth Heat 5, Brisbane Bandits 4 – Round 7, Game 3
PERTH – The Perth Heat (9-12) defeated the Brisbane Bandits (13-9) in Saturday’s third game of the four-game series at Barbagallo Ballpark. After late rallies in the in the bottom of the seventh and ninth innings, the Heat overcame the Bandits for a walk-off win 5-4 to lead the series 2-1.
The Bandits had a strong start to the game, scoring two runs in the top of the first. Perth’s Shawn Sanford gave up two consecutive doubles to Johnny Field and Thomas Coyle with Field scoring on Coyle’s base hit. Coyle swiped third base and was then brought across the plate by Granden Goetzman’s infield single.
Brian Pointer finally got the Heat’s first hit of the night in the fifth, singling on a ground ball, but Perth were unable to break through.
The Heat finally rallied in the bottom of the seventh with Matt Kennelly hitting a single up the left field line to start the inning. Jordan McDonald followed with a one-out double on a fly ball to swap places with Kennelly, who scored for the first run for the Heat. With Joey Wong batting, McDonald scored to tie the ball game on a wild pitch by Ryan Searle. Wong singled on a ground ball to left field but was left stranded on first base after Tim Kennelly retired.
Brisbane came back in the ninth. Goetzman doubled on a fly ball to left field with two aboard, bringing in Field and Coyle giving the Bandits a 4-2 lead.
Perth, however, weren’t finished. Following two pitching changes in the bottom of the ninth, Taishi Nakagawa grounded out to score Matt Kennelly. Wong singled on a ground ball to shortstop to bring Pointer home, tying the game with two outs. Tim Smith doubled on a fly ball to left field for a walk-off win to score Joey Wong and win the game for the Heat 5-4.
The Perth Heat will play the Brisbane Bandits in the fourth and final game of the series on Sunday, 14th December commencing at 4:05pm AWST at Barbagallo Ballpark in WA..
Brisbane (13-10) 200 000 002 4r 12h 1e
Perth (10-12) 000 000 203 5r 10h 0e
Brisbane: R Searle 7ip 6h 2r 9k 2w S Holland 1 2/3ip 2h 2r 1k 0w M Goto 0 ip (L, 0-1) 1h 1r 0k 0w S Chambers 0ip 1h 0r 0k 1w to M Tissenbaum.
Hits: J Field 3 T Coyle 2 G Goetzman 3 CJ Beatty 2 M Tissenbaum 1 L Wade 1.
Perth: S Sanford 6ip 8h 2h 6k 4w S Mitchinson 2ip 1h 0r 3k 0w J Marban (W, 3-1) 1ip 3h 2r 0k 0w to A de San Miguel.
Hits: J Wong 2 T Smith 2 M Kennelly 2 B Pointer 2 J McDonald 2.
Melbourne Aces 5, Canberra Cavalry 0 – Round 7, Game 3
CANBERRA – On the back of an absolute gem from Makoto Aiuchi, with some timely hits on the visitors’ side, the Melbourne Aces shut out the Canberra Cavalry 5-0 on Saturday night at the Fort at Narrabundah Ballpark.
The 20-year-old right-hander from Japan went eight scoreless innings, and scattered just five hits, walked two, and added six strikeouts against a Cavalry offence that leads the Australian Baseball League.
“He was awesome,” Aces manager Tommy Thompson said. “Aiuchi (1-1) went eight solid innings and threw 106 pitches of shutout baseball. He was fun to watch…he was dominating and he did a great job. We needed a great start from our starter. We’ve actually had three quality starts here [in Canberra] and that one was as good as any of them all year. He did a nice job for us.”
Kellin Deglan got Melbourne (8-14) on the board first in the second inning, with his eighth home run of the season. With the opposite-field solo shot, the Canadian first baseman regained the league-lead in long balls, tied with Adelaide’s Mitch Dening at the top.
Shortstop Brad Harman added his sixth homer of the year in the sixth frame, a two-run shot to follow a one-out double from Chace Numata. The Hawaiian catcher added an RBI-single in the seventh, driving in Adam Engel, who drew a two-out walk and stole his league-leading 11th bag to get into scoring position. Jared Cruz also drove in a run with a single in the fifth.
“Deglan hits a bomb to the opposite field, Harman hits one – we had some good at-bats,” Thompson said. “Numata had good at-bats and we did some good things. We played solid defence, had one error that we pitched through, but we only had a couple walks. That helps because we’ve been walking a lot of guys.
“We put ourselves in a position to win tonight and it was a real nice win for us.”
Tristan Crawford got the start for the Cavalry (11-12) and was solid through 6 1/3 innings of work, staying in the game after taking a line drive off the knee in the fifth that brought one run around. The righty (1-2) allowed four runs (three earned), including the two homers, on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Gaby Hernandez came on in relief for Canberra and allowed one run on one hit in 2 2/3 frames, with a walk and three strikeouts. Tim Brown finished the game for the Aces with a perfect ninth inning.
The two teams meet for the final game of the four-game set on Sunday at noon local time. Kentaro Fukukura will get his first start of the season for Melbourne, matching up against Canberra’s Aaron Thompson.
Melbourne (8-14) 010 012 100 5r 7h 1e
Canberra (11-12) 000 000 000 0r 5h 0e
Melbourne: M Aiuchi (W, 1-1) 8ip 5h 0r 6k 2w T Brown 1ip 0h 0r 0k 0w to C Numata.
Hits: C Numata 2 B Harman 1 (hr) K Deglan 1 (hr) J Davies 1 J Hendricks 1 J Cruz 1.
Canberra: T Crawford (L, 1-2) 6 1/3ip 6h 4r 3er 7k 2w G Hernandez 2 2/3ip 1h 1r 3k 1w to J Murphy.
Hits: A Hudak 1 C Lopes 1 M Lemon 1 J Murphy 1 R Perkins 1.
Adelaide Bite 3, Sydney Blue Sox 0 (7 innings) – Round 7, Game 2
Adelaide Bite 6, Sydney Blue Sox 0 – Round 7, Game 3
SYDNEY – The Adelaide Bite maintain their stronghold on top position in the ABL after a 6-0 shutout of the Sydney Blue Sox at Blacktown International Sportspark on Saturday night.
Morgan Coombs was again the dominant pitcher in an outing which was near perfect for the Bite. Coombs threw eight scoreless innings striking out eight and walking only one, which further justified Coombs’ inclusion in the upcoming 2014 ABL All-Star Game, presented by Levi’s.
Once again, consistent hitting was a feature for the Bite, with six of the nine in the batting lineup all registering a hit. Aaron Miller got the Bite off to a strong start with an RBI single in the top of the first, while Stef Welch continued his stellar form of late, batting in Mitch Dening to double the Bite’s advantage after three.
The damage was limited through the middle innings, but once again the Bite bats fired up towards the end of the game. A wild pitch from Luke Wilkins enabled another run to cross the plate in the seventh, and when Corey Lyon scored after another Blue Sox error, the score read 5-0 and all of the momentum sat with the Bite. An error from Zach Shephard enabled Aaron Miller to cross home plate in the top of the eighth, and from there it was a mere formality, with the Bite taking the win and in turn extending their lead on the competition with the halfway point approaching.
The fourth and final game of the series takes place on Sunday afternoon at 12pm Adelaide time. Matt Williams takes to the mound in game four, with the Bite hoping for their first clean sweep away from home this season.
Adelaide started the day’s dominance with a 3-0 win in the opener. Former Pittsburgh Pirates minor leaguer Wilson Lee threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings in his start, and Will Mathis finished off the final inning and a third to pick up the save. Sydney’s defence was sloppy again, and three Blue Sox errors contributed to Bite runs. Craig Anderson took the loss despite his complete game, allowing three runs on seven hits.
Game 1 Box Score
Adelaide (14-8) 001 200 0 3r 7h 1e
Sydney (11-11) 000 000 0 0r 4h 3e
Adelaide: W Lee (W, 1-2) 5 2/3ip 4h 0r 1k 3w W Mathis 1 1/3ip 0h 0r 2k 0w to R Gale.
Hits: B Dixon 2 A Miller 1 S Welch 1 T Brice 1 B Lodge 1 C Moon 1.
Sydney: C Anderson (L, 2-4) 7ip 7h 3r 2er 2k 0w to W Swanner.
Hits: A Glenn 1 W Swanner 1 Z Shepherd 1 M Lysaught.
Game 2 Box Score
Adelaide (15-8) 101 000 310 6r 7h 0e
Sydney (11-12) 000 000 000 0r 3h 4e
Adelaide: M Coombs (W, 4-1) 8ip 3h 0r 8k 1w T Scott 1ip 0h 0r 1k 1w to R Gale.
Hits: M Dening 1 A Miller 2 S Welch 1 T Brice 1 R Gale 1 C Lyon 1.
Sydney: L Wilkins (L, 2-3) 7ip 6h 5r 2er 1k 1w J Guyer 1ip 1h 1r 0k 0w V Harris 1ip 0h 0r 0k 0w to G Edmonds.
Hits: J Dean 1 G Edmonds 1 J Younis 1.
By Warren Smith/Fox Sports
IT will be just another stepping stone at the beginning of a career for a kid with a lively arm.
A 17-year-old, already with a professional baseball contract in his back pocket, stepping onto the mound to show his peers and his supporters why a big league ball club on the other side of the world is prepared to give him his shot.
But while Sydney Blue Sox pitcher Lachlan Wells will be focussed on the strike zone as he prepares to unleash his first fastball against the Adelaide Bite this Sunday at Blacktown International Sportspark, you could excuse the teenager for taking a glance up into the seats behind home plate.
Watching the talented left-hand pitcher go about his work will be a man who has the blueprint on how to make it to what has become known over the years as ‘The Show’.
Sydney born-and-raised Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Grant Balfour is back in his hometown this week to spread the gospel for Major League Baseball. He’ll sign autographs, take part in clinics and no doubt appear in countless examples of an artform to which Mr Kodak could only have dreamed about owning the rights: the selfie.
His biggest impact however, should Lachlan Wells seek him out for a post-game chat, could come in the form of a window to the world into which the tyro is about to step.
Wells has signed a deal beginning in 2015 to play in the minor league system of the Minnesota
Twins, which also happens to be the team that gave the now 36 year old Balfour his chance at making it to the big time.
No matter how talented a prospect may be, the climb to the majors begins at the lowest rung on professional baseball’s ladder, and there are plenty who make it no further.
“I remember from my days going to my first spring training in Fort Myers in Florida with the Twins, he’s gonna make about $750 a month, living in a hotel and be living out of a suitcase basically”, said Balfour at Sydney’s Park Hyatt Hotel. “You’re pretty homesick, you haven’t got a car and you’re trying to find a ride home from the ballpark each day. It can be very challenging”.
Balfour survived his own initiation to the pro-ranks and eventually earned a promotion to the Minnesota Twins major league team in July, 2001. He’s played 11 MLB seasons since that debut, made the 2008 World Series in his first stint playing for the Rays and became a cult figure for the Oakland Athletics with his highly animated appearances on the mound becoming known as ‘Balfour Rage’.
A club-record 44 consecutive saves as Oakland’s first-choice closing pitcher through the 2011 and 2012 seasons helped cement his position as one of the major leagues’ premier go-to men when the game is on the line. It’s a job that pays well.
The one time little-leaguer from Kings Langley in Sydney’s north-west is one year into a two year deal with Tampa Bay that is worth, at today’s exchange rate, $A7.2 million. Per season.
That, in anybody’s terms, makes Balfour’s powerful right arm a limb made of gold.
“I’ve had some really good years, maybe six great years as a reliever where I was really consistent” said Balfour.
2014 saw his form take a downward turn, but knowing what the rewards are for a top-shelf closer, his physical preparation for the 2015 season won’t be put on hold while he tours Australia’s east coast for the next seven days.
“I’ve been spending three hours a day, three days a week just non-stop crushing my body to get back into real good baseball shape to come back and prove to some people that I’ve still got it.”
For the locals who’ll turn out to shake his hand at Blacktown this weekend, he has nothing to prove.
And for the youngsters like Lachlan Wells looking for a wise word or two on how to realise the ambition?
“I just said, hey, I didn’t get the biggest contract to go over there, I may not be the biggest guy, but I’ll train harder than anyone and I’ll work to get there”.
Get there he did, and there are 7.2 million very good reasons why the work will continue.
By Matt Logue/The Daily Telegraph
AUSTRALIA’S greatest baseball export Grant Balfour has called on some of the biggest names in the Major Baseball League (MLB) to come to our shores for exhibition matches.
Speaking at the launch of his ambassador tour at Park Hyatt on Friday, Balfour said it was paramount the game continued to build momentum from March’s highly successful season opener at the SCG between the LA Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal this is already in the pipeline, with the SCG Trust having kick-started initial talks with the MLB about bringing another season opener to Sydney — most likely in 2018.
The prospect of another Major League Baseball match in Sydney is exciting news according to Balfour.
“I think it’s a great idea to get the game of baseball out here in Australia as much as we can,” said Balfour, who is also back home to serve as honorary Team Australia Captain for an All-Star match in Melbourne next week.
“Teams like the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees and the Dodgers are the bigger franchises to bring in the crowds.
“The Dodgers were out here recently and they are now spending 240 million a year on their team.
“They’ve outdone the Yankees now, so it would be great to see those big sides in Australia again.
“We are never going to be at the level of the states, but it’s just fantastic to hold matches for the exposure of the sport.
“Even if you’re not a baseball fan, I think it’s an event where you can get out there and actually fall in love with the game.
“And if it’s something new to you, then it is definitely going to be exciting.”
Balfour is heading into his 12th season as a relief pitcher in the MLB next year and he is looking forward to a strong season, especially after a disappointing season in 2014.
It’s why he has been working overtime on his pitching this summer, training three hours a day and three days a week in preparation.
The 36-year-old has one year left on his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays, although he told the Daily Telegraph he is keen to play well into his 40s.
“I just didn’t have a good season last year to my standards,” he concedes.
“I’d had six seasons there where I was really dominant, but last year was a bit of a letdown knowing what I’m capable of doing.
“So I just want to have a better season and I’m really looking forward to having a good start to the year.
“We started out at Tampa Bay with one of the worst records in baseball, but then we flipped the coin and we were the best team in baseball for a couple of months.
“But we never really took off at the end and I want to change that next season.”
Balfour also paid tribute to his father David, who is currently fighting pancreatic cancer and has been a constant source of motivation for the Sydney-born pitcher.
“Dad is going through a lot of battles with his cancer, but he is still here today,” said Belfour, who will honour his father’s contribution to Australian baseball and the Sydney Blue Sox at a ceremony in Sydney on Sunday.
“He was in hospital four weeks ago and I was afraid he wasn’t going to make it today, but he is here and he is definitely an inspiration to me.”
By Jon Tuxworth/Sports reporter at The Canberra Times
In-form Canberra Cavalry pitcher Tim Atherton says next week’s All Star match and the homecoming of Major League star Grant Balfour is a golden opportunity to build the Australian Baseball League’s profile he’s already witnessed make big leaps offshore.
Atherton, unbeaten in four starts so far this season, is one of six Cavalry players chosen for the All Stars clash in Melbourne on Wednesday.
It will be broadcast across the baseball world on ESPN and Atherton, who plays at AAA level at Oakland Athletics, is keen to help the sport make its mark.
“It’s a great showcase for Australian baseball, playing in the US this year it was awesome to come back and have guys say ‘we saw you do this’ and ‘we saw you do that’,” he said.
“It [ABL] is not held as in high regard as leagues like Venezuela and Dominican Republic, but everyone wants to come out here and play.
“Half my team [in the US] wanted to come out here. As soon as I give them a spiel about it everyone was really intrigued.”
While Atherton has been on fire in his return to Cavalry after a short stint with Sydney, another Oakland A’s pitcher will steal centre stage at Narrabundah Ballpark on Saturday night.
Closer Grant Balfour will be on hand for Cavalry’s third match of its series with Melbourne Aces.
“I love the way he plays. He’s got the saves record for Oakland and for him to take time out of his busy off season is awesome,” Atherton said.
Cavalry began its four-game series with Melbourne with a dramatic 4-3 win on Friday, after four walks helped them score two runs in the bottom of the ninth.
Atherton admitted he had never witnessed a similar situation in his entire career, and the dugout was unsure how to celebrate the quirky finish.
“Someone said to me ‘what do we do, do we just walk out there?’ ” he said.
“It was kind of funny, you’ve got to feel for the pitcher in that instance.”
AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE
Canberra Cavalry v Melbourne Aces at Narrabundah Ball Park (Saturday, 7pm; Sunday, 12pm)
Perth Heat 4, Brisbane Bandits 2 – Round 7, Game 2
PERTH – The Perth Heat (8-12) faced the Brisbane Bandits (13-8) in their second game of the series at Barbagallo Ballpark. The second of the four game series saw the Perth Heat defeat Brisbane Bandits 4-2 to even the series at a win each.
The Heat were held hitless until the eighth inning when late heroics saved the day. The comeback started in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded when Taishi Nakagawa walked to bring home the first run for the Heat. A clutch single by Jordan McDonald brought home Allan de San Miguel for the second run to even the score. Perth then plated two runs on a broken bat by Jake Turnbull to move in front for the first time in the game.
Heat reliever Chad Robinson secured the win for the Heat with two strike outs in the top of the ninth inning.
After a scoreless first and second innings, controversy in the top of the third arose as an unclear foul call by an umpire saw Heat Manager Fish protest as Coyle was called safe at third. After the controversial call, Goetzman hit a towering home run to left field to put the Bandits on top 2-0.
The ability of the Heat pitchers kept the Heat in the game, with starter Daniel Schmidt pitching well. Perth pitchers stranded 12 base runners throughout the night.
Currently standing fifth in the ABL ladder, this series is pivotal for the Heat to make a comeback and keep playoff hopes alive.
The Heat and Bandits clash in the third game of the series on Saturday, 13th December commencing at 7:20pm AWST at Barbagallo Ballpark.
Brisbane (13-9) 002 000 000 2r 11h 1e
Perth (9-12) 000 000 04x 4r 5h 2e
Brisbane: C-H Lin (L, 2-2) 7ip 3h 3r 4k 0w M Goto 0ip 0h 1r 0k 1w D Cooper 1ip 2h 0r 2k 0w to K-W Yang.
Hits: T Coyle 1 G Goetzman 3 (hr) CJ Beatty 2 K-W Yang 2 R Battaglia 1 L Wade 1 M Roxburgh 1.
Perth: D Schmidt 7ip 8h 2r 3k 2w S Mitchinson (W, 2-0) 1ip 2h 0r 1k 0w C Robinson (S, 2) 1ip 1h 0r 2k 1w to M Dixon and A de San Miguel.
Hits: L Hughes 1 A de San Miguel 1 M Kennelly 1 J McDonald 1 J Turnbull 1.
Canberra Cavalry 5, Melbourne Aces 4 – Round 7, Game 2
CANBERRA – Marcus Lemon’s four RBIs from two home runs guided the Canberra Cavalry (11-11) to a 5-4 win over the Melbourne Aces (7-14) at Narrabundah Ballpark last night. With his side down by one in the middle of the seventh, Lemon stepped to the plate and launched his second homer of the night, giving the Cavs the two-run buffer they needed to close out game two of the series.
Lemon’s heroics came on the back of yet another all-but-perfect performance from Cavalry starter Tim Atherton (4-0, 1.93). For the third time this season Atherton went without conceding a run, allowing only one hit and striking out six through his five and one-third innings on the mound.
As they did in game one, the Cavalry started the scoring for the night with a solo home run from Lemon over the right field wall in the first. With one out in the bottom of the first, Lemon connected for the first of his two long bombs. Canberra extended their lead in the fourth, with third baseman Mitch Walding making his way around the bases before being driven in on a Jason Sloan single.
After Atherton was replaced on the mound, the game turned the way of the visitors. Melbourne found their first run of the night in the sixth with Ben Leslie plating on an Adam Engel ground out. They then took a 3-2 lead in the following inning with a further two runs on a Dylan Cozens double.
The lead was short lived for the Aces with Lemon immediately hitting back with his three-run homer in the bottom half of the seventh.
Melbourne closed the margin to one with a huge home run of their own in the eighth inning, but that was as close as they would come, with Canberra’s Dustin Crenshaw closing out the game and recording his third save of the season.
The Cavalry will look to wrap up the series Saturday night when the two sides meet for game three at Narrabundah Ballpark. Tristan Crawford (1-1, 5.61) will take to the mound for the home side with first pitch scheduled for 7PM.
Melbourne (7-14) 000 001 210 4r 6h 1e
Canberra (11-11) 100 100 30x 5r 7h 2e
Melbourne: C Buckel 5ip 4h 2r 4k 2w H Godbold (L, 1-1) 2ip 3h 3r 1k 1w I Soto 1ip 0h 0r 3k 3w to K Deglan
Hits: A Engel 1 (hr) B Harman 1 K Deglan 1 J Davies 1 D Cozens 1 J Huber 1.
Canberra: T Atherton 5 1/3ip 1h 0r 6k 1w G Hernandez 2/3ip 0h 1r 0k 1w W Ough (W, 2-0) 1ip 2h 2r 1er 1k 2w I Marshall 2/3 ip 1h 1r 0k 0w D Crenshaw (S, 3) 1/3ip 2h 0r 2k 0w to J Murphy and R Perkins.
Hits: M Lemon 2 (2 hr) M Walding 2 J Sloan 1 R Perkins 1 A Silva 1.
Adelaide Bite 5, Sydney Blue Sox 4 – Round 7, Game 1
The Adelaide Bite left their run late against the Sydney Blue Sox, but a Mitch Dening’s RBI in the top of the ninth gave the Bite a 5-4 win in game one of the four-game series at Blacktown International Sportspark.
The Sox ran away to an early three-run lead after three innings after RBIs from Josh Dean, Alex Glenn and David Kandilas, but some otherwise consistent pitching from the Bite’s All Star pitcher Craig Stem set Adelaide up for the win. Stem threw 6.2 innings with seven hits and three earned runs, and his ability to strike out batters in clutch moments helped the Bite set the platform for a comeback.
The middle innings proved vital for Adelaide, with two runs coming in each of the fourth and fifth innings. Ben Lodge and Chan Moon enabled runners to cross the plate with RBIs in the fourth, while Los Angeles Dodgers import Aaron Miller and reigning ABL Hitter of the Week Stef Welch picked up RBIs in the fifth to give the Bite a 4-3 lead.
From there, the scoring dried up thanks to some solid pitching out of the bullpen from Josh Tols who was credited with his league leading fifth win of the season. An RBI for the Sox in the bottom of the eighth tied the ballgame up heading into the final frame, but Bite centre fielder Mitch Dening — who played for the Blue Sox until this season — claimed an RBI to right field to score Corey Lyon.
From there, it was up to Tyler Brunnemann. The Houston astros import throw a faultless final inning, pick up his league leading fourth save of the season.
The Bite own the series lead after one game heading into Saturday’s doubleheader at Blue Sox Stadium.
Adelaide (13-8) 000 220 001 5r 10h 1e
Sydney (11-10) 003 000 010 4r 8h 0e
Adelaide: C Stem 6 2/3ip 7h 3r 7k 1w M Williams 1/3ip 0h 1r 0k 2w J Tols (W, 5-0) 1ip 1h 0r 2k 1w T Brunnemann (S, 4) 1ip 0h 0r 0k 0w to R Gale.
Hits: B Dixon 2 M Dening 1 A Miller 1 S Welch 1 B Lodge 1 R Gale 2 C Lyon 2.
Sydney: M Solbach 4 1/3ip 4h 4r 3k 4w M Rae 1/3ip 2h 0r 0k 0w W Lundgren 1 1/3ip 1h 0r 1k 0w S Landell 2ip 1h 0r 2k 1w A Sookee (L, 1-2) 1ip 2h 1r 0er 2k 0w to G Edmonds.
Hits: T Bortnick 1 T Oeltjen 1 D Kandilas 1 A Glenn 2 J Dean 1 A Howe 1 G Edmonds 1.
By Alexis Brudnicki / Melbourne Aces
The second time’s a charm for Makoto Aiuchi.
Back on the Melbourne Aces roster for the second consecutive Australian Baseball League season, the 20-year-old Japanese right-hander has solidified his spot in the starting rotation this year and been one of the most reliable pitchers on the staff, earning him a spot on the World roster in the upcoming ABL All-Star Game.
“He’s been one of our more consistent guys,” Aiuchi’s teammate Justin Huber said after his most recent start. “He just did it again. He went out there and he was really composed. For such a young guy too – we had him on the team last year and he didn’t look as polished as he does this year. That shows that he’s just growing up and getting better and becoming more professional.”
Aiuchi made just two appearances for the Aces last year, one start and one in relief. Over his three innings of work, he allowed one run on two hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
Since returning to Melbourne this season from the Saitama Seibu Lions in the Japan Pacific League, he has started five games so far and posted a 4.25 ERA over 29 2/3 innings with 10 walks and 28 strikeouts, while working on some aspects of his game that he hopes to take back with him to Japan.
“To play well in Japan, I need to work on my fastball command,” Aiuchi said through translator Hiroto Kawaguchi. “So I’m trying to get better on my fastball here and throwing more fastballs in games…I can throw harder than I did last year so it’s been better this year.”
Much more of an extrovert down under than he is in his home country, the young righty does his best not to let the language barrier hinder his ability to be personable with the rest of the squad. Though he makes an effort to be sociable, Aiuchi has altered his focus this year to be more on the diamond than off of it.
“Last year I tried hard to communicate with the other players but this year I’m not thinking about it as much,” he said. “I wish I could speak more English…but it’s easier to be loose [and outgoing] here because it’s Australia.” [Click to read the full article]