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Prime Opportunity for Aces in Five Game Series
12/09/2010 3:41 PM ET
 
With their inaugural season so far interrupted by postponed, shortened and delayed games due to inclement weather, the Aces have an opportunity this weekend, weather permitting, to make up ground on the teams above them.

Following last weekend's unusual events in which a tie was recorded in one of the games (as well as another postponement), this weekend's return bout between the BlueSox and the Aces will consist of five games over three days on Aces' turf.

Game one is scheduled to commence on Friday evening at 7pm, the second and third on Saturday at 4.30pm and 7pm, with the final two games on Sunday at 11am and 3pm respectively.

A week ago, the Aces were very competitive against the top of the table BlueSox and whilst the Aces starting pitchers matched up well against their opposite number, the offense was unable to produce the run support required, despite having the advantage in base hits over the three game series.

This weekend, Melbourne will be looking to duplicate the run scoring spree seen against Canberra two weeks ago. Over the two completed games in that series, Melbourne were able to produce 16 runs in two games; easily accounting for their opponents.

A look at the standings shows that with a strong series victory this weekend, the Aces could well find themselves filling one of the play-off spots with just over half the season to play. Presently, they only sit a few games below a play-off spot and a handful of wins off a top two spot.

Two weeks ago, the Melbourne baseball and sporting public demonstrated a willingness to support the Aces in large numbers; showing up on all three days despite the disappointing weather. With the 'fortress' that the showgrounds has the potential to become, it would be great to see thousands of fans turn out on each of the days to support the Aces as they gain momentum entering the middle and second half of the season.

Three of the starting pitchers this weekend are Greg Wiltshire, Norihito Kaneto and Travis Blackley. With the series extended to five games, the Aces' other two starting pitchers will be named at a later time.

Wiltshire has had almost two weeks off since last pitching against the Canberra Cavalry on 28 November. His appearance on the mound resulted in a complete game being pitched; surrendering six hits, four walks and achieving six strikeouts on the way to gaining his second win of the season. The Aces' batting line-up during this game had nine hits; four of which were home runs; resulting in six runs. Wiltshire enters the series with a 2-0 record this season. A similar performance will go a long to securing a victory for Melbourne.

It was a similar story for Kaneto two weeks ago against the Cavalry. On the back of significant run production, Kaneto got his maiden win for the Aces. The offense drove in 10 runs on the back of eight hits. Kaneto pitched strongly over five innings of a seven innings game; allowing five hits, two walks whilst striking out six batters. Last week against Sydney, Kaneto put up what appeared even more impressive numbers; pitching 5.2 innings during which he surrendered one hit, two walks and struck out five of the BlueSox line-up. Despite two solid performances, Kaneto has a 1-2 win/loss record prior to taking the mound this weekend for his second start against Sydney in 2010/2011.

In his first start for 2010/2011, Travis Blackley pitched five solid innings last week against top of the table Sydney. Blackley left the game in the bottom of the sixth with a 1-0 lead but unfortunately the Aces were unable to prevent the Sox from scoring; the Sox eventually holding on for a 2-1 victory. Blackley's first up performance numbers were five innings pitched, one hit, four walks and six strikeouts; another quality start.

In the upcoming series, the Aces fans will be looking for these starting pitching performances to continue. In addition, they will be banking on the offensive efforts of two weeks ago to return.

Combine the two, the results will fall our way and the play-offs will become a reality.

See you at 'the show'!

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