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ABL Weekly Roundup: First playoff round

The first playoff installment of the ABL Weekly Roundup.

Over the winter, we aim to meet your baseball fix here at Beyond the Box Score. To do 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.

Brisbane advances over Adelaide and will face Melbourne in the Grand Final (2-1)

Game 1: BRS 3 - 1 ADE

Game 2: ADE 8 - 4 BRS (12)

Game 3: ADE 2 - 18 BRS

The Bite handed the ball to their ace, Max MacNabb, in the first game. He faced off against Brisbane starter Justin Erasmus. Both starters flew through the first five innings without allowing a run. Erasmus entered the sixth inning, but failed to close the door after allowing a McArdle single to lead off the inning. Erasmus was pulled two batters later for Ryan Rowland-Smith. Jordan Cowan then singled off Rowland-Smith to score the only Adelaide run of the game.

For the Bite, MacNabb cruised through seven innings, allowing only five hits and striking out six. In the top of the eighth, Matthew Williams came in to replace MacNabb. That’s when the wheels fell off for Adelaide. Sutherland and Dutton both singled for the Bandits, so Aaron Whitefield attempted a sacrifice bunt. Williams fielded it and skied his throw over McArdle, which scored Sutherland. Then, Trent Oeltjen came up with a flare close to the line in shallow left field. That hit scored two and put him on second. Williams managed to get out of the inning without any further damage, but the Bandits would keep their lead as Ryan Searle completed the two inning save.

Game 2 pitted 16-year-old Tigers prospect Jack O’Loughlin against Bandit workhorse Kramer Champlin, both of whom started off rocky. The Bite plated three runs in the first inning. Jordan Cowan started off the scoring with a double that brought in LeDarious Clark off his leadoff walk. Following a Dening groundout, Marcus Greene blasted a two-run home run to left field. After letting up the three runs and allowing another hit, Champlin got out of the inning and didn’t give up another run for the rest of his 423-inning outing.

Meanwhile, O’Loughlin started off his night with a walk to Aaron Whitefield and a single from Trent Oeltjen. Mitch Nilsson then brought in Whitefield with a shot off the end of the bat. In the bottom of the second, Wade Dutton and Aaron Whitefield pumped out back-to-back solo shots to draw the game even. In the bottom of the fifth, Aaron Whitefield laid down a fantastic bunt on Greg Mosel’s first pitch. Stefan Welch fielded it and flung the throw past McArdle at first. McArdle stepped into the basepath to field it and interfered with Whitefield, thus advancing him to second. Whitefield would later score on a Nilsson ground out.

The Bite tied the game up in the seventh after a LeDarious Clark single brough in Josh Altmann. The two bullpens would then begin to cruise through extras, particularly Loek van Mill for the Bite, who ran out there for four scoreless innings. In the 10th inning, the Bite seriously threatened. With the bases loaded and one out, Nathan VanDerLinden, who had entered as a defensive sub, laid down a safety squeeze with a little too much behind it. Sutherland fielded it half way down the first base line and threw out Cowan at home.

The Bite finally came through in the top of the 12th against Ryan Searle. Starting off the run was a Jordan Cowan single and a Mitch Dening two-run home run. Marcus Greene Jr. and Stefan Welch would then single and score off an Altmann single. After that, the Bandits went three up, three down in the bottom of the 12th and the Bite took it to the deciding third game.

The final game wasn’t really much of one. After three full innings of scoreless baseball, Trent Oeltjen led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run. The Bite responded in the fifth with a Stefan Welch leadoff shot. But, all in all, the Bite couldn’t keep it in the ballpark. The Bandits knocked out seven of the ol’ four-bag runaround causers with Mitch Nilsson and Ryan Battaglia each hitting two. It got bad enough that we even got a bit of weird baseball with Nathan VanDerLinden pitching and allowing six runs. So, in dinger-rich fashion, the Bandits advance to face the Aces in the Grand Final.

Anthony Rescan is a Contributing Writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyRescan. Anthony also explained his time in the Australian Baseball League at Baseball Prospectus and on Effectively Wild.