CANBERRA, Australia – The Australian Baseball League Championship Series kicks off this weekend as the Canberra Cavalry host the two-time defending champion Perth Heat.
Canberra finished first in the standings with a record of 27-19. This is the first time they are making the playoffs. Heading into the finals after having last week off, the Cavalry are riding a three-game winning streak. They owned the season series against Perth going 6-2 on the year. However, the two teams haven’t played since early January.
Canberra has the best offense in the league. They led the league in home runs (56), batting average (.295), slugging percentage (.465), doubles (94), and total bases (759 – more than 150 more than 2nd place).
Adam Buschini won the league’s triple crown leading the league in hitting (.363), home runs (15), and RBI (50). Also with big seasons were third baseman Jeremy Barnes (.343/7/32), shortstop Kody Hightower (.325/2/22), and Ryan Stovall (.320/7/24).
Canberra ranked in the middle of the pack in pitching. The pitching staff posted an ERA of 4.04, finished second in saves with 12, but ranked second in the league in strikeouts.
Leading the pitching staff is Brian Grening (4-2) who finished 8th in the league in ERA at 2.87. Sean Toler (2-0/2.84) led the team in saves with 11
Perth finished the season in third place, but they are riding a six-game winning streak after sweeping Sydney in the first round of the playoffs.
Perth finished second in the league in batting average behind Canberra at .267. They led the league in triples (11) and finished in the middle of the field in home runs (31).
The offense is led by outfielders David Amberson (.380/1/7), Corey Adamson (.321/1/18), first baseman Michael Ohlman (.317/6/27), and catcher Allan de San Miguel (.294/5/30).
Perth may be lacking in the big numbers of the Canberra hitters, but they have experience on their side.
On the hill, Perth is led by Anthony Claggett (4-5/3.31), Daniel Schmidt (7-3/3.72), and Warwick Saupold (1-1/2.79). Brendan Wise (2-1/2.14/3 saves) has done well closing out games.
Game 1 will feature Brian Grening against Anthony Claggett on Friday February 8. Game 2 is slated to feature John Holdzkom (4-3/4.10) against Warwick Saupold. If necessary, Game 3 will feature Chris Motta (3-3/5.93) against Daniel Schmidt.
Fans in the USA can watch the games on the MLB Network. Fox Sports 2 will be showing the games in Australia.
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.