Australian Baseball League – Round 5 Preview

Australian Baseball League – Round 5 Preview

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ABL Clubs reaching desperation point as midway mark looms. 

After this week, we’ve hit the midway point of #ABL23. Here are game previews and storylines we’re looking forward to:

  • The Adelaide Giants have taken their franchise-record eight-game win streak back home for a series vs the suddenly hot Canberra Cavalry.
  • Winners of four series in a row, the Brisbane Bandits take on Geelong-Korea, who look to rebound after losing a string of close games.
  • It’s desperation mode for Sydney who, with a 2-13 record, need to get their season on track. They fly out west to play Perth. The Heat, meanwhile, just dropped three of four games vs Auckland.
  • The 6-9 Melbourne Aces fly across the ditch to New Zealand. The two-time defending champions need to pick up games to avoid falling further back from the pack.

First, the standings. 

CANBERRA CAVALRY (8-8) @ ADELAIDE GIANTS (11-5)


Game Times

Thursday 8 December – 7:00PM – ACDT
Friday 9 December – 7:00PM – ACDT
Saturday 10 December – 4:00PM ACDT
Saturday 10 December – 7:00PM

Watch all games live on ondemand.baseball.com.au.

Key Storyline

Adelaide are red-hot winners of eight straight. They are coming off a series sweep of the Sydney Blue Sox, where they outscored their opponent 32-11. The week prior? A four-game sweep of the Melbourne Aces. They’ve opened up a multi-game lead in the South West Division.

Canberra started the season with a four-game sweep but then dropped seven of eight. However, a series win vs. Geelong-Korea last week has positioned the Cavalry nicely again.

Things to Watch

– Giants Bullpen: After a sluggish start, the Adelaide bullpen has been automatic. In their eight-game win streak, Giant relievers have combined to allow just five earned runs in 34.0 innings pitched. That’s a 1.32 ERA in the last two weeks.

Q Leading the Way: Anthony Quirion is having a special season for the Giants. The Phillies’ import went 7-for-15 in Sydney with 2HR and 9RBI. He leads the Giants in homers (5) and runs batted in (15). He’s also gunning down base runners behind the dish.

Comeback Charge: Never count the Canberra Cavalry out. The Cavs came from behind in all three wins vs Geelong-Korea last weekend. They also won all their games by less than two runs. What’s the saying? Good teams just find a way to win.

– Eddie is back: After spending four seasons with the Giants, Mitch Edwards moved back to his hometown of Canberra and now plays for the Cavs. He returns to his four-year home this weekend with a .294 average, 2 HR and 8 RBI – his best season since 2018-19.

– Age vs Experience: With an average age of 28.8, the Cavalry are the oldest team in the ABL by over a year. Adelaide is the third youngest team in the ABL (25.6).

Big Bats: Adelaide is getting contributions 1-9 in the line-up. Their .293 team average is first in the league by a mile.

Potential Starting Pitchers

Canberra

1 – Frank Gailey
2 – Phil Pfeiffer
3 – Nick Belzer
4 – Rhys Niit

Adelaide
1 – Jordan Fowler
2 – Luke Wilkins
3 – Miguel Cienfuegos
4 – Jack O’Loughlin

SYDNEY BLUE SOX (2-13) @ PERTH HEAT (8-8)


Game Times

Friday 9 December – 7:00PM – AWST
Saturday 10 December – 4:00PM – AWST
Saturday 10 December – 7:00PM – AWST
Sunday 11 December, 2:00PM – AWST

Watch all games live at ondemand.baseball.com.au

Key Story Line

Both teams need a win. Sydney is in the deep end after being swept for the second time this season. Another series loss and their season goes from bad to “on life support.” A momentum-changing win on the road would be big vs Perth.

The Heat, meanwhile, lost a series vs Auckland last week – a team that travelled over 5,000 km to play. The Heat started the weekend in first place now they are three games behind the Giants.

Things to Watch

– Sydney Slumber: While Sydney finally scored more than two runs in a couple of games (5 on Friday, 6 on Sunday) their offense is still lagging. Their 37 runs this season are the worst in the league by nearly 30.

Slammin’ Sammy: Sydney’s outfield import Sammy Siani is showing signs of heating up. The Pirates prospect leads all regular starters with a .265 batting average and hit a big homer vs Adelaide on the weekend.

Power Outage: What happened to Perth’s prominent offense? They only scored 11 runs across a home weekend and were shutout on Friday and scored just one run on Sunday. Their bats need to wake up.

Bojo got MojoUlrich Bojarski is 7-17 in his last four games for the Heat with 1HR and 4RBI. He also is making highlight real plays in right field.

Need for Speed: One thing that may help both clubs snap out of offensive slumps is baserunning. The Heat have stolen the fewest bases in the ABL (8) and Sydney are third-to-last with 11. Both teams would like to change that.

Potential Starting Pitchers

Sydney
1- Matt Rae
2- Josh Guyer
3 – Coen Wynne
4 – Drew Gillespie

Perth
1 – Warwick Saupold
2 – Gunnar Kines
3 – Brock Gilliam
4 – Jordan Power

GEELONG-KOREA (5-10) @ BRISBANE BANDITS (13-3)


Game Times

Thursday 8 December – 6:00PM Brisbane Time
Friday 9 December – 6:00PM Brisbane Time
Saturday 10 December – 2:30PM Brisbane Time
Sunday 10 December, 6:00PM – AEDT

Watch all games live at ondemand.baseball.com.au

Key Story Line

Brisbane have won 10 of their last 11 games and return to the hitter-friendly confines of Viticon Stadium looking to expand on a four-game divisional lead.

Geelong-Korea have lost five of six and many games by close margins. They need to flip the script.

Things to Watch

– Bash Fest Incoming: Two of the most powerful offenses in the league clash in a small ballpark. Brisbane lead the ABL with 25 homers while GK sit third with 20. Brisbane have scored 102 runs (first in ABL) and GK are fourth with 82. Runs a plenty are coming!

– Brisbane Bullpen: Lots of runs? Maybe not. Brisbane’s bullpen has been one of the most dominant in the ABL and a big factor in their league-leading 2.91 ERA. James Meeker highlights a phenomenal bullpen. He’s yet to allow a run in nine appearances (12 innings) and has six saves.

Close doesn’t count: Geelong may be 2-6 in their last two series but they’ve led in four of the six losses. They’ve often coughed up leads late in ball games.

Running Wild: Both teams have attempted to steal 30 times this year – the most in the ABL by 11. Brisbane have swiped 25 bags and Geelong have snagged 22. Look for some fun, aggressive baseball.

– Record Watch: T.J. Bennett has belted eight homers in 16 games so far. Just one home run this weekend will keep him on a record-setting pace. He’s chasing a modern-day single-season record of 16 homers that’s shared by himself, Donald Lutz and Kellin Deglan. Will he be the first to 17?

Potential Starting Pitchers

Brisbane
1 – Cameron Wagoner
2 – Max Lazar
3 – Tim Atherton
4 – Sam Holland

Geelong-Korea

1 – Kim Jae-Young
2 – Jang Jae-Young
3- Jung Hi-Hwang
4 – Lee Soo-Min

MELBOURNE (6-9) @ AUCKLAND (9-6)


Game Times

Friday 9 December – 7:00PM – Auckland time
Saturday 10 December – 3:00PM – Auckland time
Saturday 10 December – 7:00PM – Auckland time
Sunday 11 December – 11:00AM – Auckland time

Watch all games live via ondemand.baseball.com.au

Key Story Line

Auckland is surging. They’re coming off three straight series wins including three-of-four on the road in Perth.

Melbourne is sinking. After starting the season 5-2, the Aces have dropped 7-of-8 games and risk falling far behind at the halfway point.

Things to Watch

– Take your chances: Melbourne need to be better when opportunities present themselves. In their current eight-game slump, Melbourne is just 11-90 with runners in scoring position. Sunday’s 3-1 tight loss to Brisbane summed it up: 0-13 with RISP and 4 errors. Sloppy baseball does not win games.

– Loading up: The Aces have brought in reinforcements to try to salvage their season. In the last week they’ve announced a slew of signings including 10-year MLB vet Ryan Lavarnay, reliever Kevin Lenik and former first-round pick Jakob Skole. Skole made quite the impression on his debut weekend, going 8-for-14 with a homer in a losing effort.

Pitch by Committee: Auckland has shared the load the last few weeks. Of 112 innings pitched this season, no Tuatara pitcher has thrown more than 13.2 innings. They’ve used fourteen different arms to get the job done. Former big leaguer Toro Murata is leading the way with a 1.12 ERA.

Kiwi Showtime: It’s been fun to watch the duo of Kiwi players Jason Matthews and Clayton Campbell. Matthews has a .353 average and Campbell is heating up with an average close to .300. That local production goes a long way.

Shorten with 7 innings: All games this weekend will be seven innings long. How does this change the strategy for the managers?

Potential Starting Pitchers

Melbourne
1 – Brian Flynn
2 – Cody Mincey
3 – Kyuta Kazama
4 – Dan McGrath

Auckland
1- Lin Huei-Sheng
2- Toru Murata
3 – Ben Thompson
4 – Chien Yu

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