The Brisbane Bandits returned to the baseball scene Thursday night hosting the Perth Heat to open their Australian Baseball League campaign at the picturesque RNA Showgrounds.
After a moment of silence for Remembrance Day and the National Anthem, Australian Baseball royalty Graeme Lloyd delivered the ceremonial first pitch to fellow legend big Dave Nilsson.
The action started with Brisbane pitcher James Albury retiring the Perth side easily in the top of the first inning. In the bottom of the first, centre fielder Wade Dutton tripled to right centre field for the Bandits and scored on a groundout by Shukei Fukuda in the bottom of the first to stake the Bandits to a 1-0 at the end of the inning.
After Brandon Dale tripled to centre field for the Heat in the top of the second inning Albury got himself out of the jam by coaxing Matt Kenelly into an easy groundout. Brisbane went down in order leaving the score at 1-0 after two innings.
In the top of the third Heat batter Robbie Widlansky slapped a triple down the right field line and scored on a single through the hole by second baseman Luke Hughes locking the score at 1-1. The threat ended when Bandit third baseman Brad Dutton pulled out a bare handed scoop and throw to get Heat batter Evan McArthur for the final out. In the bottom of the inning Joel Naughton reached on an infield miscue, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Wade Dutton and went to third on an infield single by Shukei Fukuda. From there he scored on a sacrifice fly to right field by Rory Rhodes putting the Bandits in front 2-1. Fukuda then stole second base and advanced to third on the errant throw before Heat hurler Liam Baron struck out David Sutherland to end the threat.
Bandit pitcher Albury walked two batters to start fourth inning before finding his composure and retiring the next three. Josh Roberts started the bottom half of the inning with a base on balls for the Bandits before shortstop Alan Schoenberger singled to left putting runners on first and second. Baron then settled to get himself out of the jam and the inning ended with the same 2-1 score.
After walking a batter in the top of the sixth, Albury was relieved by Chris Mowday. A throwing error by third baseman Brad Dutton put runners on second and third followed by a Darcy Doyle single that knotted the game 2-2. Dutton reached on an infield hit to start the bottom of the inning and moved to third on a sharp single by Josh Roberts. Dutton crossed the plate on a fielder's choice by shortstop Alan Schoenberger putting the Bandits back ahead 3-2 after six innings.
Robbie Widlansky doubled to start the seventh and moved to third on a sacrifice fly by second baseman Luke Hughes before scoring on a single to left by McArthur knotting the score at three runs each. Hughes was thrown out by catcher Joel Naughton attempting to steal second leaving the score the same at the seventh inning stretch. Dean White relived Baron in the bottom of the inning for the Heat and was welcomed by a Joel Naughton single. Naughton moved to second on a Wade Dutton sacrifice bunt and scored on Fuiluda's single up the middle giving the Bandits another one run advantage 4-3. Fukuda was caught stealing before a Rhodes double to left field. A ground out by David Sutherland ended the threat.
Simon Morriss took over on the mound from Mowday in the top of the eighth and retired the Heat batters without incident. Brad Dutton smacked a double down the left field line in the bottom of the inning and scored on a Schoenberger single to centre field giving the Bandits a 5-3 cushion. Nakumara singled moving Shoenberger to third and hustled to second on an errant throw from the outfield. A Naughton single plated Schoenberger extending the count to 6-3. Another double, this time by Wade Dutton scored both runners making the score 8-3 and sending pitcher Dean White to the showers bringing Daniel Schmidt to the mound. Schmidt put out the fire but the Bandits went into the ninth leading 8-3.
Simon Morriss finished off the Heat in the top of the ninth without incident sealing the win for the Bandits.
Wade Dutton led the way at the plate for the Bandits going three for four with a double, triple and two runs batted in. Alan Schoenberger also batted in two runs and Brad Dutton scored two runs to lead the way for Brisbane.
Robbie Widlansky was best at the plate for the Heat with two hits.
Chris Mowday picked up the win in relief and Morriss grabbed his first save of the season. Dean White took the loss on the mound for the Heat.
The teams meet again tomorrow night at 7pm at the same venue followed by a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 4 in the afternoon.