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Bizarre End to Rain-Affected Series
12/06/2010 6:51 AM ET
 
GAME THREE: BLUE SOX 1 drew with MELBOURNE ACES 1

With the first of the rained-out Saturday games rescheduled to this morning and the second to be played at a date to be fixed, the Aces salvaged a solitary point from the weekend after dropping the first two completed games - despite some great pitching work that went largely unsupported in offence.

"We had our opportunities in all of them," said Aces Assistant Coach Phil Allen. "We only scored three runs for the three games - and that is something we need to address."

"We need to execute better and give our pitchers greater offensive support."

Desperately seeking a win in the second Sunday afternoon game, the Aces went with Norihito Kaneto while the Sox called on David Welch in seeking to sweep the three-game bracket.

Both left-handers breezed through the first three, before Itaru Hashimoto hit safely and stole second for the Aces in the top of four. But Hashimoto was left out there as Welch retired Kamei and Huber and ultimately held sway throughout the eight innings contest for a miserly two hits and a walk.

Commanding great control of his pitchers, Kaneto conceded a double to Josh Dean in the bottom of six. Kandilas laid down a sacrifice bunt and Dean strolled to third as the Aces management played defensive strategy. D'Antonio popped up - for two out - and Auty walked to put runners at the corners, drawing Adam Bright from the pen to retire the side when the Blue Sox threatened.

Bright struck out the side in the bottom of seven as the game headed to extras in an already shortened contest. Playing international tie-breaker rules, the Aces started off with runners and first and second - with none out. Nathan Aron was forced out at third on Russell's bunt, Matt Lawman popped up before Takahiro Ijyuin singled up the middle to score the first run of the game with two out.

Pinch-hitter Mark Holland sacrificed in to place runners at second and third in the equaliser - with two out - and Alex Johnson drew an intentional walk to load the bases as a parochial crowd estimated at 1500 became involved in the climactic finish. A sacrifice fly to rightfield tied the score at 1-1 before Bright pitched the Aces out the innings as the clock struck six and brought the curtain down on a bizarre weekend of baseball.

Under Australian Baseball League curfew rules, the game was called a draw - an extraordinary ending to the game that further complicates what has been a disrupted last fortnight of competition.

"We were made aware of the tie-breaker rule," said Phil Allen. "It's a disappointing way to end a game - especially for the supporters - but the rule is pretty straightforward. No innings is allowed to start after 5.45 for the Sunday games."

The Aces will host Sydney Blue Sox for the return series starting at Melbourne Showgrounds on Friday night. Games Two and Three are scheduled for Saturday and Game Four will be played on Sunday.

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