It was an exciting weekend in the Australian Baseball League with two series sweeps. The final weekend will be a wild one as three teams are fighting for the last playoff spot.
While the Melbourne Aces (24-12) have already clinched a playoff spot, but they limp into the final weekend of the regular season being swept by the current second place team Adelaide Bite (20-16). Despite the good season so far for the Aces, they definitely want to gain a little momentum heading into the playoffs. They are facing the right opponent just for that too in the final week, the last place Perth Heat (12-24).
The series between the Aces and Bite helped Adelaide jump a spot to the no. 2 seed currently heading into the final weekend of the season. The Bite played well all weekend and with the four wins passed the Canberra Cavalry who split their weekend series with the Sydney Blue Sox.
Thanks to ABL TV I was able to watch the final game of the series between the Aces and Bite. I walked away quite impressed with a few player in particular from the Bite. The first to draw my attention was Texas Rangers prospect Josh Altmann. Altmann went 2-for-4 in the game with a long 2-run home run, but I was even more impressed by his two outfield assists. He threw out James Beresford at home, and then to kill a potential rally again he nailed Austin Darby late in the game trying to stretch a single into a double.
Zach Cooper (W, 2-0) pitched well for the Bite to pick up the win, but I was most impressed by Josh Tols for the Aces. He came in and pitched four innings of near perfect relief. He walked one, gave up no hits, and struck out seven. Tols has been an impressive reliever over his time in the ABL. In his four seasons he has compiled a 16-5 record with a 1.99 ERA over 57 games. Mostly in relief, only 4 starts, and mostly with the Adelaide Bite, Tols has struck out 130 over 108.1 innings. He has pitched in different independent leagues over the past few summers, the last two for the Kansas City T-Bones of the American Association.
As a fan of the game at home in the USA and abroad it was nice to see Peter Moylan still hurling the ball as he pitched a perfect inning for the Aces in relief to finish off the game.
The Brisbane Bandits got a walk-off home run from Tampa Bay Rays prospect Kevin Padlo (3-for-5) to seal the sweep. David Rodriguez (2-for-4) also homered for the Bandits in the win as they made a furious comeback in the late innings to overcome a 7-2 deficit to win 9-8.
Perth jumped out early on a Josh Kennelly three-run bomb to put the Heat up 3-0. Luke Hughes would put the Heat up 8-6 in the top of the 8th inning with a solo shot, only to see the Bandits get 3 runs in the last two innings to pull off the win.
The Bandits did not have the only walk-off win on Sunday. The Sydney Blue Sox pulled one off late as well scoring 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th to pull off the win and even the weekend series with the Canberra Cavalry at two games apiece.
Both teams score in bunches as Sydney went up early with a four run 4th inning. After a single run in the 5th by the Cavalry, they surged on top of the game with a 5 run 6th inning. But with the strong 9th inning the Blue Sox pulled off the win. You can see the final play below courtesy of the Sydney Blue Sox.
— Sydney Blue Sox (@SydneyBlueSox) January 22, 2017
Weekend ABL Schedule:
Thursday January 19th
Adelaide 4 at Melbourne 1 (11)
Perth 2 at Brisbane 3
Friday January 20th
Adelaide 4 at Brisbane 3
Canberra 5 at Sydney 3
Perth 6 at Brisbane 8
Saturday January 21st
Canberra 1 at Sydney 5
Canberra 2 at Sydney 1
Adelaide 6 at Melbourne 2
Perth 7 at Brisbane 8
Sunday January 22nd
Adelaide 5 at Melbourne 1
Perth 8 at Brisbane 9
Canberra 6 at Sydney 7
Current ABL Standings:
|Sydney Blue Sox||14||21||.400||9.5||11-9||3-12||3-7||W1|