Over the winter, we aim to meet your baseball fix here at Beyond the Box Score. Doing so, we’ll be covering the Australian Baseball League for each week that the competition is running. We also would like to remind you that many of the games are streamed and recorded on the league’s YouTube channel.
Adelaide wins the series over Melbourne (3-1)
Game 1: ADE 1 - 2 MEL
Game 2: ADE 3 - 2 MEL (11)
Game 3: ADE 2 - 0 MEL (7)
Game 4: ADE 10 - 3 MEL
In a league that, so far, has been dominated by offense, Adelaide and Melbourne turned in a series that turned our eyes to run prevention.
The series led off with a pitching battle. Former big-leaguer Mark Hamburger faced off against Steven Chambers, who previously played for both Brisbane and Canberra. Though Hamburger and Chambers only got through 4 and 5.2, respectively, they held the opposing offenses in check and passed it on to bullpens that did the same. Josh Tols continued his hot start from the pen with his second, multi-inning outing and his third scoreless outing. Another former big-leaguer, Virgil Vasquez, followed Tols with a multi-inning outing of his own to earn the win. Turning to the offensive side, Ronald Acuna, the Braves’ #2 prospect according to BP, had a nice day for Melbourne going 2-for-4 with a triple, a steal, and two runs scored. Adelaide’s lone run scored came from Mariners prospect Jordan Cowan, who went 2-for-5 on the day with a double and the aforementioned run scored. Cowan is currently tied for the league lead in doubles with Brisbane’s Aaron Whitefield.
The series turned to its only extra-inning game on the first leg of the doubleheader. Twenty-three-year-old Japanese pitcher Keisuke Honda toed the rubber for Melbourne against 16-year-old Tigers prospect Jack O’Loughlin. Honda went six innings deep, giving up two runs with only one earned, racking up five stikeouts, and allowing eight baserunners. O’Loughlin was on a bit of a short leash. He threw only 56 pitches in four innings striking out one and allowing two runs on four hits and a walk. The former Phillie and long time ABL vet Brad Harman continued his struggles for the Aces with a four-strikeout night at the plate. However, the three-four combo of Roman Collins and Allan de San Miguel continues to succeed for the Aces. Both scored runs in the game and de San Miguel snagged himself a two-hit night. Another ABL vet who was struggling, Stefan Welch, seemed to wake up a bit with a two-hit night of his own. The deep game obviously forced some managerial moves. One in particular proved pivotal: the entrance of Bas Nooji for DH Jordan Cowan. Nooji went 2-for-3 and knocked in the game-winning run in the eleventh.
Game 3 was the short end of the Saturday doubleheader. Dushan Ruzic, who had previously spent three seasons with Adelaide before a long ABL hiatus, took the mound for Melbourne. He threw the full six innings giving up the fateful two run home run to Angus Roeger. Max MacNabb and Zach Cooper combined to shut down the Aces. They combined for eight strikeouts and only allowed two walks and three hits over the shortened game. Both pitchers have also yet to allow a run this season.
The final game of the series was Adelaide’s from almost start to finish. Adelaide plated eight of their eventual ten runs early in the third and fourth innings, running starting pitching Jon Kennedy after only 3.1 innings. Adelaide got big days out of players like Jordan Cowan, Josh Altmann, and Connar O’Gorman. On top of that, Taylor Hawkins held the Melbourne offense in check. He allowed only two earned runs — three in total — over 5.1 innings, despite having trouble keeping the Aces off the basepaths. Ky Hampton and Christopher Horne combined to close the game out allowing no hits over their 3.2 innings pitched, but only striking out two combined.
Brisbane splits with Perth (2-2)
Game 1: PER 2 - 6 BRS
Game 2: PER 9 - 8 BRS
Game 3: PER 2 - 1 BRS (7)
Game 4: PER 7 - 11 BRS
Game 1 of this series was headlined by the top of Brisbane’s order. Each of the top five hitters in the Bandit lineup reached base multiple times with Mitch Nilsson being the only one to do so without a hit. Andrew Whitefield was the catalyst for the Bandits scoring two runs on a pair of doubles and a single. Rays’ prospect, Kevin Padlo, continued his tear with a two extra base hit, four RBI night. Comparatively, the Heat bats were relatively quiet with the only runs coming on a Tim Kennelly home run that also brought in Joey Wong. On a brighter note for Perth fans, the Heat bullpen shut down the Bandits and stopped the bleeding with Ben Grace and Adam Millson combining for six innings, three strikeouts, and allowing only two baserunners.
The second game of the series produced a dichotomy of run production. On one end, the bats for the Bandits were hot. Brisbane knocked Perth pitching around to the tune of ten singles along with six walks. On the other end, Heat batters manufactured their runs primarily through patience. The Heat batters drew eleven walks against Bandit pitching, including two run scoring walks. On top of that, big extra base hits, particularly the triple from Ulrich Bojarski that gave them the 8-7 lead, gave the Heat the edge in pulling this one out.
The front end of the Saturday doubleheader was the one game in this series where the pitchers stole the show. After a first-inning home run from Tim Kennelly, Kramer Champlin, who is a Blue Jays farmhand, held the Heat down for six innings. Champlin gave up five hits, stuck out seven, and walked only two in his near-complete game. Despite having trouble with his control, Tom Bailey held the Bandits to only one run, a Mitch Nilsson RBI ground out, over six innings. Bailey faced 28 batters in his six innings, allowing six hits and four walks and striking out five. The two teams entered the seventh and Bandits closer Ryan Searle, formerly a Cubs prospect, entered the game. The first two batters reached via hit-by-pitch and walk then Tim Kennelly knocked in a one-out, walk-off single to end the game.
The two teams combined for another offensive bonanza in Game 3. The Bandits were carried by a huge performance from Twins prospect Aaron Whitefield. The left fielder led off for the Bandits and went 5-for-6 with a double, two runs scored, and three steals. The Brisbane offense in total tallied 13 hits and eight walks on its way to scoring 11 runs. Brisbane starter Daniel Nilsson cruised through five innings. He struck out five, walked one, and allowed only two hits, including a Luke Hughes solo home run. However, the Brisbane bullpen did not fare as well. They surrendered five runs off five hits and four walks. Tigers prospect, Ulrich Bojarski, added his second four-RBI day of the series, but, despite the late rally, the Heat fell to the Bandits in the final game of the series.
Canberra wins the series over Sydney (3-1)
Game 1: CAN 8 - 4 SYD
Game 2: CAN 0 - 10 SYD
Game 3: CAN 4 - 1 SYD
Game 4: CAN 21 - 11 SYD
This series marks the first leg of the Hume Highway Cup, which Sydney and Canberra battle for each year.
The series started off rocky for the Sydneysiders. Blue Sox import Trevor Foss went through five solid innings, giving up only two runs before the Cavalry offense exploded in the sixth for five runs. David Kandilas pumped out two home runs in a 3-for-4 effort. Cavalry DH Mike Reeves also added a punch to the lineup with a solo shot in the eighth inning. Despite a late-inning rally, the Blue Sox offense was fairly stagnant outside multi-hit games from Alex Howe and Stone Garrett.
In Game 2, an unlikely source came to shine for the Blue Sox: Former bat boy Shane Kelleher got the start at shortstop. Kelleher went 3-for-5 with a triple, home run, and four RBIs. Craig Anderson, Ryoto Yoshikoshi, and Todd Grattan combined to shut out the Cavalry in their only loss of the series.
The third game of the series was the most tightly contested. The game was tied up heading into the sixth inning with the only runs coming from a Kyle Perkins sac fly and a Josh Dean bases-loaded walk. Luke Wilkins, who was lights-out to this point, caught some bad luck with the leadoff batter reaching base via an error. The inning snowballed from there with a bit of station-to-station baseball that led to a three-run Cavalry inning. After that, Andrew Case and Steve Kent combined for the final three innings allowing no runs with five reaching base.
The final game of the series marked first time an Australian Baseball League game had been played in Wollongong, New South Wales. The two teams traveled to Wollongong after concluding their first three games at Narrabundah Ballpark in Canberra. On top of this, the game set a record for most runs scored in a single game with 32(!!!). Among the things that happened in this game were six home runs hit and a position player pitching (Matthew Campbell for Sydney). I can’t really describe this game much more. It was a massacre of all that prevents runs.
Matchups for Next Week
Adelaide (4-4) @ Canberra (4-4)
Melbourne (4-4) @ Brisbane (5-3)
Perth (3-5) @ Sydney (4-4)
Anthony Rescan is a Contributing Writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyRescan.