Aces VS Bite series preview
11/08/2012 4:05 PM ET
The Aces are back in action this weekend (SMP Images / Brett Crockford)
Baseball is back.
So where do the Aces sit coming into the season?
A wise man once said to look forward you need to be able to look back, so let's revisit the first weekend of the season for the four clubs who did get underway.
For the back-to-back champion Perth Heat it appeared to be business as usual as they outscored the Adelaide Bite 30-10 across their three game set, sweeping the home side in the process.
Aces nemesis Virgil Vazquez took the ball for the Heat in the season opener and produced the same vein of form that saw him named as the MVP of the 2011-12 Championship Series, allowing six hits over seven innings of work, striking out six along the way.
As the Bite discovered, it's tough to win games if you aren't scoring runs, but it's even tougher if you aren't stopping your opponents from scoring them.
In the ten innings which the Heat scored runs this past week end, seven of those ten were multiple run scoring innings, a statistic which if they keep up, may see that they are impossible to beat.
It wasn't all negative signs for the Adelaide Bite this weekend however, with Josh Cakebread coming out of the weekend with a .308 average, while Dylan Child and Nathan Melendres both hit a home run.
It wasn't such a pleasant story for the Bite pitching staff, with Rinku Singh and Nick Hutchings being the only two of eleven pitchers who appeared for the Bite in the first series that didn't give up a run, despite only combining for one inning of work.
In the other series on Opening Weekend it was the Sydney Blue Sox, who took two out of three games to win their series against the Canberra Cavalry.
Defence was the order of the weekend in the Capital as there were just eleven runs scored between the two sides in the three game set.
Chris Oxspring got the visitors rolling in the first game, pitching 7.1 Innings, allowing six hits while striking out an average of a man per inning.
Nine innings wasn't enough and it was the Blue Sox who found victory after a string of errors by the Cavalry put the game beyond their reach.
Errors and miscommunication again got the better of the Cavalry in the first game of the Saturday double header, with the Blue Sox taking the lead early and scoring the winning run on a bases loaded walk.
The second game brought better fortune for the Canberra Cavalry with Jonathon Jones slamming a lead-off homer in the bottom in the bottom of the first inning, before KC Hobson added another in the home half of the seventh, a run which proved decisive as the Cavalry bullpen was able to hold one for a 2-1 victory.
With the Aces facing the Bite this weekend, fans would be forgiven for thinking that it's going to be business as usual given the Bite make the trip across the border, currently sitting last, having whimpered their way to an 0-3 record.
The unknown quantity for the Aces is how the team will gel given they haven't had an opportunity to play as a squad before their opening games of the season.
With imports Zach Arneson and Carlo Testa fresh off the plane from America, Aces fans will be happy to known that they looked sharp in practice on Monday afternoon, with Testa firing several balls out of Melbourne Ballpark.
Add Testa to a line-up including ABL single season Home Run record holder Brad Harman and Major League veteran Justin Huber and the Aces potentially have the most feared middle of the order in the league.
Is it going to be enough to challenge the Perth Heat, who have already established themselves as contenders again this season ?
The key is going to be finding consistency away from home. In the first two seasons of the league, the Aces went a combined 23-20 at home, with their road form has left a lot to be desired.
In the history of the league the Aces are the only club to not win a series on the road, something which will again be in the minds of the players as they travel far and wide for this upcoming season.
The experience that the side has gained since falling to the Perth Heat in the Championship series, is what pushes them across the line.
A year ago the likes of Darryl George and Liam Bedford were seen as players who could come into consideration in the future.
After strong season in America, they have worked themselves into contention for being key members of the championship cog.
Stepping into their shoes as the ones to watch in the future are Lewis Thorpe, Ben Leslie and Ryan Dale and Daniel McGrath.
The depth of talent not only shows that Victorian baseball might be in the best position it has ever been in, but also gives hopes to fans that Championship glory isn't too far away.
This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.