In round nine of the 2016/2017 ABL the following series were scheduled:
Adelaide Bite @ Melbourne Aces, Perth Heat @ Brisbane Bandits and Canberra Cavalry @ Sydney BlueSox. A couple of surprises changed the landscape in the standings.
Canberra Cavalry @ Sydney Blue Sox
The Cavalry and the BlueSox did not play on Thursday but played a doubleheader on Saturday instead. In game one the Cavalry stayed at the right side of the score as they beat Sydney 5-3. After the Cavalry had taken a 2-0 lead in the third inning, the BlueSox bounced back by scoring three runs in the fifth. But eventually, Canberra turned the tables again as they tied the game in the seventh and scored two more in the eighth for the win. But Sydney would get some revenge as they won the first game of the double header on Saturday. In the seven-inning game, the BlueSox clinched an easy looking victory: 5-1.
Luke Wilkins won his third game of the season (W 3-3) with a seven-inning “complete game”, in which he gave up one run on three hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
The second game of the doubleheader was a nine-inning affair in which the Cavalry walked away with the win. A close win as they beat Sydney 2-1. German Sven Schuller pitched 1.2 perfect innings for Sydney with one strikeout. Former Dutch hoofdklasse pitcher Craig Anderson pitched took the loss despite pitching 5.1 good frames in which he allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks as the struck out two.
So it all came down to the final game for Sydney to salvage the series. The BlueSox did what they had to do by beating the Cavalry in a close game in which the score went back and forth. Sydney took a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning thanks to some aggressive base running and some sloppy defense by Canberra. But the Cavalry would turn things around once again as they scored six runs in the next two innings. But eventually, the BlueSox had the last laugh as they scored three in the bottom of the ninth for the walk-off win.
Chris Oxspring, who got through the first three innings unharmed, had to allow five runs in as many innings. He faced four more batters in the sixth but did not record an out.
The win went to Yuki Katayama, who pitched two perfect innings.
Best hitter for Sydney in this game was Joshua Strong, who went 2 for 4 with two RBI, a run and two strikeouts.
Adelaide Bite @ Melbourne Aces
The Melbourne Aces could clinch a spot in the championship series this weekend, but the Adelaide Bite was a spoiler. The Bite swept the Aces and fought itself back into contention for a play off spot with the Cavalry.
On Thursday, the Bite beat the Aces 4-1. Things looked promising for the Aces as they took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. But the Aces could not extend their lead, simply because the Bite pitching kept them in check rather well. Despite a stellar outing by Melbourne’s Mark Hamburger (nine innings, one run on five hits and eight strikeouts), the Aces did not clinch the win. After trailing eight innings, the Bite tied the game in the nick of time, so extra innings were needed. After both teams did not score in the tenth, the Bite scored three runs in the eleventh. Then Dutch closer Loek van Mil entered the game to shut the door by pitching a perfect eleventh inning.
Except for the extra innings, Friday’s game was a bit of the same story. The Aces took a lead (2-0) but could not cling on to it. Sydney scored three runs in the top of the sixth whereupon Melbourne tied the game in the bottom of that very same inning. But eventually, Adelaide would score the winning run on a double to left field, hit by Mitch Denning. Once again, Loek van Mil shut the door with a perfect inning in which he fanned two. Former Dutch hoofdklasse player Bas Nooij went 1 for 4. But once again Nooij proved his value behind the plate as he nailed three potential base stealers at second base.
Former Dutch hoofdklasse player Dushan Ruzic pitched 0.2 perfect innings for the Aces.
After winning the third game 6-2, in which Loek van Mil pitched another scoreless frame, the Bite won Sunday’s game as well with an easy 5-1 victory. Van Mil managed to lower his ERA to a microscopic 0.44.
Perth Heat @ Brisbane Bandits
The Brisbane Bandits swept its way to a winning record (18-17) vs the Perth Heat. The Heat, that appeared to have found its groove in the past few weeks, did not manage to continue with it.
On Thursday, the Bandits took a 1-0 lead in the third inning, but the Heat turned the tables in the in the final two innings as they scored two runs for the lead. But Warwick Saupold could not prevent the Bandits from walking off as a victor as he gave up a two-run homerun to Logan Wade. Former Dutch hoofklasse pitcher and German Bundesliga pitcher, Justin Erasmus, blew a save but still clinched the win as he pitched two innings in which he gave up two runs on two hits and a walk.
Another close game on Friday, as the Bandits won 8-6. As Rick Teasley gave up four runs on eight hits to the Heat, Samuel Holland pitched 0.1 inning for the win.
Another close affair on Saturday. After scoring a run in the second and the third innings, the Heat could not cling on to the lead as Michael Lee (L 2-5) allowed four runs in the bottom of the fourth. But Lee’s struggle lasted one more inning, as he gave up four more runs in the fourth. Despite giving up three runs on seven hits in five innings, Ryan Rowland-Smith earned the win as he fanned four and walked three.
Sunday’s game was a close one again. For seven innings it looked like the Heat would finally get their win but with a two-run eighth inning, the Bandits tied the game. Eventually, they scored the walk-off run on a solo homerun by Kevin Prado.
German Donald Lutz did not play this weekend as he has been reassigned, meaning that he isn’t on the active roster any longer.
In the standings, the Melbourne Aces still have a comfortable lead, but now the Adelaide Bite has inched closer. The second place Bite trails Melbourne by four games and are one game ahead of the Canberra Cavalry who forgot to win the series vs Sydney.
The Brisbane Bandits are in fourth place, trailing Melbourne by 5.5 games.
The BlueSox remain in fifth place but they managed to walk away from the Perth Heat a bit. The Blue Sox trail Melbourne by 9.5 games but lead Perth by 2.5 games.