The 2019/2020 Australian Baseball League regular season will start a week later and finish with a blockbuster lineup of divisional matchups.
Baseball Australia today confirmed the ABL’s 10th season would start on November 21 to avoid a clash with Premier12 and finish with three-straight rounds of divisional action.
Opening weekend will feature interdivisional matchups for a second-straight season with defending champions Brisbane hitting the road to face Adelaide and Auckland making its highly-anticipated North Harbour Stadium debut against Perth.
Canberra welcome Melbourne in a rematch of last season’s Wildcard Game and Geelong-Korea starts its second ABL season at home to Sydney.
Baseball Australia chief executive Cam Vale expected the altered format would deliver a thrilling finale to the 160-game regular season and build on the foundations of last season’s expansion.
“The introduction of divisional baseball last season strengthened existing rivalries and forged new ones,” Vale said.
“Having the final 12 games against divisional opponents will make the race to the playoffs even more fascinating and make every game matter.
“It’s a win for fans, who showed a great interest in divisional rivalries last season, to have so many of these games in the popular January period.”
All teams will host two series during January’s fan-friendly school holiday period.
The final round of the regular season falls over the Australia Day long weekend.
Team Australia’s Premier12 commitments will see the latest start to a season in ABL history.
“Premier12 is a historic occasion for baseball in Australia and our first chance at qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics,” Vale said.
“Providing clear space in the ABL calendar will allow Team Australia players to focus solely on Premier12 and have less impact on their availability for ABL teams.”
The ABL playoff structure will remain unchanged and start with the ABL Wildcard Game on Wednesday, January 29.
The best-of-three ABL Championship Series will be held between February 6-9, pending travel requirements of the two competing teams.
Teams will release their home game dates and times in the coming weeks.
+ Auckland takes on Perth on Opening Weekend (November 21-24) at its new permanent home at North Harbour Stadium.
+ Brisbane plays Geelong-Korea in its home opener from November 28 to December 1.
+ Adelaide and Melbourne renew their rivalry at West Beach from December 12-15.
+ The Bandits travel west to face Perth in a rematch of the 2018 ABLCS from January 2-5.
+ Geelong-Korea makes the trip to New Zealand for the first time from January 2-5.
+ Sydney hosts Canberra in the final round over the Australia Day long weekend.
HOW THE ABL SEASON WORKS
+ Each team will play two four-game series (one home, one away) against each divisional opponent and one four-game series against each team in the other division.
+ Teams will play a total of 24 games (12 at home, 12 away) against divisional rivals and 16 games (eight at home, eight away) against inter-divisional opponents.
+ Inter-divisional series will take place in round one, two, six and seven.
+ The two teams from each division with the best record qualify for playoffs along with the third-placed team with the best record.