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One up, one even for Sunday Sox
Sydney surges back to take opener, clubs play to draw in second contest
12/05/2010 6:52 PM ET
Wayne Lundgren struck out nine over six innings and got the Sunday opener win.
Wayne Lundgren struck out nine over six innings and got the Sunday opener win. (Nathan Atkins/ABL)
SYDNEY - The Sydney Blue Sox didn't lose on Sunday. On a long day at a ballpark showcasing the afternoon's only scheduled Australian Baseball League games, the Blue Sox overcame both solid Melbourne Aces pitching and the elements to snag a 2-1 victory in game one and became the first club in the new ABL's history to play host to a draw with a 1-1, curfew-induced final in game two.

"Three really, really good games [in the series], and we couldn't get any closer," Blue Sox manager Glenn Williams said after the tie. "Our pitching was really good again, and we got some clutch hits...It's a bit of a deflating feeling to come away tied, but then again looking at it, if we hadn't dropped our bundle after giving up one run there in the top of the [eighth], we could have been out of there [with a sweep]."

The Blue Sox got two sterling performances from starting pitchers Wayne Lundgren and reigning ABL Fielders Choice Player of the Week David Welch, and Lundgren set the tone in the day's early contest. Lundgren, who had been roughed up to the tune of 12 earned runs in his previous two starts, dominated the Aces. Save for one pitch to Melbourne three-hole hitter Yoshiyuki Kamei in the first inning that resulted in a solo home run, Lundgren kept the Aces' bats off-balance for nearly the entirety of the opening contest. Through his six digs of work, the tall hurler struck out a season-high nine and only issued one walk. As play was suspended due to heavy rains in the bottom of the sixth, Lundgren exited as the home team's pitcher of record having allowed just three baserunners and one tally.

When the rains departed, Sydney's bats arrived in the bottom of the sixth. While Melbourne starter Travis Blackley had pitched his way to an outstanding Sunday performance as well, only allowing one Sydney hit through five innings and working around four walks with six strikeouts, the rain forced his removal following the lengthy delay. The Blue Sox didn't miss their window of opportunity.

With two out and two on, Pat Maat connected with Sydney's first extra-base hit of the day, doubling to the right-field wall to bring home Tim Auty from second and pinch runner Josh Dean all the way from first and swing the lead to the Sox side for good at 2-1.

For Lundgren (3-2) and Maat, two Blue Sox who have had ups and downs in the early portion of the 2010/11 campaign, the win was sweeter according to their manager.

"Wayne threw the ball great today," Williams said. "It's very rare that he has two rough starts, and he had two in a row there. He threw the ball great. Patty swung the bat really good which is encouraging. All our guys are working really, really hard to make sure that we're ready to go."

Melbourne reliever Jumpei Ono (0-1) suffered the defeat in his only inning of work. Sydney closer Dae-Sung Koo (S, 7) dealt out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh inning to extend his league lead in saves.

GAME TWO
With the day's second contest starting over two and a half hours late because of the rain in game one, the Blue Sox and Aces flew through the late affair's first five innings. Behind starters Norihito Kaneto and Welch, Melbourne and Sydney traded zeroes on the scoreboard as the afternoon drew late. With Melbourne needing to head out of town following the game's completion, the league's curfew grew closer and closer, and following the end of the seventh inning with the game still scoreless, ABL rule 5-6-8 went into effect.

Modeled on the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) tiebreaker rule, ABL rule 5-6-8 states that each team begin any offensive extra inning within an hour of curfew time with runners at first and second base. With game two only scheduled to be a seven-inning affair after the delay in game one, the eighth inning became an extra.

Melbourne brought home its first run with two outs in their half of the eighth when Josh Davies scored from second on a Takahiro Ijuyin single to break the deadlock and put the Aces in front 1-0.

The Blue Sox got out of the eighth with no further damage done, and in the home half, following a sacrifice bunt that moved Sydney's two runners to second and third, the Sox leveled the score with a David Kandilas sacrifice fly scoring Michael Lysaught from third base. When Melbourne reliever Adam Bright got Trent D'Antonio swinging for the final out of the eighth, the umpires declared the game official at 1-1.

"It's tough to play that long and not have a result at the end," said Lysaught, "but credit to Welchy. He went out there and pounded the zone and did everything he could to get us in a position to win that game. It hurts a little bit, but it wasn't a loss. There are plenty of positives we can take from it."

Welch pitched all eight innings for Sydney and was charged with Melbourne's eighth-inning run as his only blemish on three hits, striking out five while walking just one in the no-decision.

In the shuffle of Sunday, the Blue Sox became the first team in the ABL this year to reach the ten-win mark with their victory in the opener. These two clubs will meet again from December 10-12 for a four-game series in Melbourne.

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.