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Late Roberts heroics lift Bandits over Blue Sox
Homer in 11th gives Brisbane first victory
11/11/2012 12:16 AM ET
Josh Roberts connects with his decisive homer in the 11th.
Josh Roberts connects with his decisive homer in the 11th. (Joosep Martinson / SMP Images)
SYDNEY, 10 November - There is plenty of statistical information available for baseball players hitting in close-and-late situations, but when the game is on the line there is only one man who the Brisbane Bandits want stepping up to the plate.

Josh Roberts is that man.

The two-time team MVP did what he does best once again on Saturday night against the Sydney Blue Sox, driving in the winning run with his first home run of the season as the Bandits took down the home team 3-1 in extra innings.

"Roberts is one of the top three Aussie players in the country and he's our best player and go-to guy," Brisbane manager Kevin Jordan said. "Not just on the field but how he approaches the game. He's the heart and soul of this team."

Not only did Roberts hit the go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the 11th, but he also saved Brisbane from potential damage in the eighth with an amazing diving catch in shallow right field. All of this came just one night after the 26-year-old notched his 100th career Australian Baseball League hit, the first Bandits hit of the year.

The win was the first of the season for Brisbane in their second game of the three-game set at Blacktown International Sportspark in Round Two of the ABL, brought to you by 'Be the Influence: Tackling Binge Drinking'.

Great baseball games are often won on pitching and defence, and although this one could still be going if not for the Roberts knock, the game was not short on either.

Just after the spectacular Roberts catch was another defensive run saved by second baseman Brad Dutton. Dutton made a leaping snag in the air, showing off his vertical and keeping the Blue Sox runner at second base, and the scored tied at one.

Brisbane (1-1) got on the board first in the fourth inning. Japanese centre fielder Hirotoshi Onaka led off the inning with his first double of the season and was driven in by Arkansas native Cody Clark. That was all the Bandits would get in regulation.

The visitors were forced into extras after the Blue Sox (3-2) knotted the game in the bottom of the seventh. After a two-out fielding error by David Sutherland, Jacob Younis doubled in the runner at second.

James Albury got the start for the Bandits and threw more innings in a game than he has in almost two seasons, since returning from having Tommy John surgery. The right-hander threw five shutout frames, allowing just three hits, walking three and striking out six.

"It was a good team effort," Jordan said. "Albury threw real well. We know pitching is [Sydney's] strength and he and the rest of our [pitching] staff did a good job of keeping us in the game. We were able to scratch a run across and that gave us a chance."

Southpaw import Chuck Lofgren got his first taste of Bandits action when he came on in relief in the sixth inning. The California native threw three innings allowing one unearned run with one strikeout.

Justin Erasmus made his season debut in the ninth inning and held the Blue Sox down for the final three frames. The contender for a spot on Team Australia in the upcoming World Baseball Classic threw three shutout innings allowing just one hit, three walks and striking out six to earn the win.

Brisbane will send Chris Smith to the hill for the rubber match of the three-game series against the Blue Sox on Sunday. The Kentucky native is making his ABL debut after throwing a no-hitter in the Greater Brisbane League just one week ago.

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