Skip to main content
  • Adelaide Bite
  • Auckland Tuatara
  • Brisbane Bandits
  • Canberra Cavalry
  • Geelong-Korea
  • Melbourne Aces
  • Perth Heat
  • Sydney Blue Sox
Below is an advertisement.
Welch, Sydney retake first with Thursday win
Lefty goes six innings, Koo earns tenth save in tense ninth
01/13/2011 11:57 PM ET
Dae-Sung Koo racked up save number ten with 2.1 innings Thursday night.
Dae-Sung Koo racked up save number ten with 2.1 innings Thursday night. (SMP Images/ABL)
SYDNEY - It took until the seventh inning in Wednesday night's nailbiter of a series opener between the Adelaide ETSA Bite and the Sydney Blue Sox for the Sox to find themselves offensively. Sydney figured it would probably be easiest to get things done at the plate early on Thursday.

David Welch got back on track with six strong innings and the help of some early run support, Dae-Sung Koo turned an extended outing into his league-leading tenth save, and the Blue Sox moved back into first place in the Australian Baseball League standings with a 4-3 win over the Bite before 1,115 fans at Blacktown Olympic Park.

One night after Trent Schmutter's walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth lifted Sydney to victory, the Blue Sox kept on their offensive stride in the first frame Thursday. With a leadoff baserunner, Trent D'Antonio, already aboard due to an error and in scoring position due to a Schmutter groundout, Mitch Dening put Sydney on the board with an RBI single to right field to make it a 1-0 Sox lead. In the second, it was the red-hot Schmutter coming through by punching a line drive double to left field to score shortstop Michael Lysaught and D'Antonio. With three runs behind him, Sydney starter Welch settled into a comfort zone.

"It does let you breathe a little easier," Welch said of his offence which sputtered through a four-game sweep last weekend by the Perth Heat. "The guys, that last series, we were just on our heels the whole series. This one, the boys are just fired up, you can tell that. Even if we're one run down in the first, it's a different team in this series. We just got away from ourselves the last one against Perth, and we're making up for it now."

Sydney didn't get to know the feeling of being down on Thursday night due in large part to Welch's efforts. The southpaw bent but never broke and racked up the strikeouts all night long. By the time his evening finished after six innings, the Sox had tacked on another run in response to a fourth-inning tally by Adelaide. Welch (5-0) remained unbeaten by scattering five hits and a walk, striking out eight and stranding runners in scoring position in the second and third innings. The lefty retired the last eight Bite hitters he faced.

"I felt good," said Welch. "I was locating down in the zone which is where I got in trouble in my last start. This one, I was down in the zone, and I knew my changeup was there. You know when you've got your better stuff, and you know your games when you don't, you've just got to battle through it. I felt good."

Blue Sox manager Glenn Williams concurred, adding, "He's been fighting it a little bit the last couple of starts and putting some pressure on himself, but tonight the first inning was really good. He pressed in the [second and third], but those last three innings he threw, he was great. he loosened up, and his breaking ball was good, probably as good tonight as I've seen it all year. He threw the ball great for us and continues to be a guy that we can go to and get innings out of and keep us in a lot of ballgames."

The game tightened up in the seventh inning when Adelaide added another run to cut their deficit to 4-2 and loaded the bases with two outs against Sydney reliever Vaughan Harris. Williams went to his bullpen for his durable and dependable closer Dae-Sung Koo who came through immediately, inducing a Tom Brice groundout to quell the threat.

Koo (S, 10) mowed through the Adelaide lineup in a 1-2-3 eighth before running into trouble in the ninth. Scott Gladstone's one-out single got past Schmutter in centre field, droving home Jeremy Cresswell to make it 4-3 and allowing Gladstone to advance to third as the potential tying run. But Sydney's stopper slammed the door. Koo sandwiched a strikeout of Stefan Welch and a game-ending flyout by Brice around a two-out walk to Brandon Bantz to close the win. The lefty threw 48 pitches over two and a third innings and stranded runners at the corners to extend his league lead in saves.

For a Sydney(19-14) team that entered this pivotal series on their heels after Perth's sweep last week, two series-opening wins have quickly reshuffled the ABL's ladder and put the Sox back on top, a half-game ahead of Adelaide (18-14) and the Heat, whose Thursday game with Melbourne was postponed. Welch said he and his teammates understand the impact of big victories with time running down in the circuit's inaugural regular season.

"We're going to look at these next two series as playoffs and getting ready for that. It's all about momentum. Teams can get hot all of a sudden, and we want to roll into the playoffs with that. We want to truck teams. We want to blow teams out. We want to get onto them. We're looking good, we're looking confident. But we've got six more games in the season, and we want to win them all."

Sydney will go for a series victory over Adelaide Friday night at Blacktown Olympic Park. First pitch for game three of this four-game set is slated for 7.30 PM.

FRIDAY'S PITCHING PROBABLES: RHP Brandon Maurer (4-1, 3.86) v RHP Wayne Lundgren (3-2, 5.62)

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