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Scintillating Sox walk off again in Bluetown
Boisterous crowd takes in second last at-bat victory in three games
01/14/2011 11:46 PM ET
Alex Johnson's tenth-inning double keyed Sydney's walk-off win.
Alex Johnson's tenth-inning double keyed Sydney's walk-off win. (SMP Images/ABL)
SYDNEY - It was a game that, by conventional baseball measures, the Sydney Blue Sox really had no business winning. At one point, the home team saw the Adelaide ETSA Bite go up 5-1 with an 11-2 advantage in hits. But as Sydney's bats came alive, so did the most raucous crowd of their 2010/11 home season, and when sound had feel, the Blue Sox were walk-off winners again.

Before a deafening gathering of 1,640 at Blacktown Olympic Park, the Sox claimed a 6-5, ten-inning victory over the Bite in their last at-bat when Adelaide catcher Brandon Bantz's errant to third base allowed pinch runner Michael Lysaught to cross home plate with the winning run. Sydney's third straight win pushed the Bite to a game and a half behind the Blue Sox in the Australian Baseball League standings.

With the game tied at five, Sydney's regular shortstop Lysaught entered the game in the bottom of the tenth as a pinch runner following designated hitter Alex Johnson's massive leadoff double to centre field. Behind him, first baseman Josh Dean's plan was to lay down a sacrifice bunt and move Lysaught to third base, thirty metres away from victory. Dean's second bunt attempt found both fair territory and the right hand of Adelaide backstop Bantz. The catcher picked up the ball and immediately fired toward a streaking Lysaught at third. Bantz's throw sailed wide of his intended target, however, and up the left field line. Lysaught scored easily and was immediately engulfed at the plate by his euphoric teammates.

"I knew what the situation was, and I, mentally, had been preparing knowing that if I was to get in the game after having the day off, that I'd come in a pinch run situation," Lysaught said. "Johnson did his job, got himself on, and I knew that would be the key if I was to get in. I knew that I had to see the bunt down. You go through all these drills at training, you do the work to know what that situation is. Hats off to the guys, they executed. Josh Dean got up there, put the bunt down, and you can't ask for a guy to do more than execute his role."

Long before Sydney's regular shortstop had a chance to score the game's final tally, however, the situation looked bleak for the Blue Sox, who had retaken first place from Adelaide just the night before. The Bite got on the board early against Sydney left-hander Craig Anderson, touching the southpaw for two runs in the second and two more in the sixth. Despite Adelaide's overwhelming advantage in the hit column, however, the Blue Sox hung around. Trailing 5-1 in the seventh, Sydney began to claw their way back into the affair. Trent D'Antonio's RBI double scored Shannon Pender to cut the lead to 5-2. In the eighth, the Sox roared back to even. Moko Moanaroa's two-out RBI single dropped the deficit to 5-3 and brought the tying run to the plate in the person of Mark Holland. Sydney's second baseman picked a good time for his first home run of the year.

Holland jacked a two-run, game-tying shot over the left field wall, despite the best efforts of Adelaide's Brendon Pett who slammed into the fence in pursuit, to knot the game at 5-5 and give his club new life. The Blue Sox rally erased an admirable effort by Bite starter Brandon Maurer who was saddled with a no-decision after six innings of one-run ball. Sydney got Anderson off the hook after the lefty allowed four runs, three earned, on ten hits in six innings.

With a brand new ballgame entering the ninth back on level ground, the momentum had shifted decidedly toward the home side, and those in attendance noticed. A rocking Blacktown Olympic Park saw reliever Jarryd Sullivan (1-0) deal around a leadoff single in the ninth and, after the Sox left a runner on in the bottom half, work around a two-out base hit in the tenth. Thanks to Johnson, Lysaught, and Dean, Sullivan wouldn't have to work anymore. Veteran Darren Fidge (3-3) took the loss for the Bite.

Blue Sox manager Glenn Williams praised his team for gutting out another tough win. "The fans have turned out three nights in a row. These guys, they just don't quit. You look at them before the game, and everyone's got an ice pack or a bandage or some kind of stuff hanging off of them. They're banged up, they're struggling, they're tired and everything, but they turn up every day. They never cease to amaze me that they go to work all day long, come out here and play like that for nine innings in front of a really vocal crowd.

"It shows a lot of character," Williams continued. "Adelaide's a ballclub that's got a lot of fight in them, very well managed and coached. They keep coming at you, they keep giving themselves chances. They're a team that comes out to play every day. They're a tough ballclub to play. We showed a lot of character tonight. Maurer threw the ball great. He's got really good stuff and a huge future. Very easy to pack up the tent if you're 0-for-2 or 3 against a great pitcher, but they keep battling. We got some huge hits tonight and some really good pitching."

Lysaught expounded on his suddenly surging team's mood.

"We're all on a high. We've got a lot of momentum with us right now. Throughout the season, especially since 2011 started, we've gone hot, cold, and now we're hot again. It's a definite momentum thing that we needed to get especially after last series. All the guys, we've bonded so well over the year, we can execute and pull together as a team. Everyone's there for everyone. We're having an absolute blast out there."

Sydney goes for the sweep of the four-game series in their regular season home finale Saturday night. First pitch for the series finale is schedule for 7.30 PM.

SATURDAY'S PITCHING PROBABLES: RHP Dushan Ruzic (5-1, 3.56) v RHP Wayne Lundgren (3-2, 5.62)

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