SYDNEY, 22 November - For the first time in the 2012-13 season, all six teams will be active in league play and participate in four-game series. Coming off their first loss of the season, the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat will compete against theSydney Blue Sox, who had a week off in preparation to face the two-time defending champions. The Brisbane Bandits were on the way to their second straight series win when play was suspended in the final game due to rain and lightening. The Canberra Cavalry driven by Rolfe Renault will have the chance to fight back from their 5 run deficit against the Bandits when the game is resumed from the top of the fourth on a later date. Canberra will return home to host the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces, who ended Perth’s five game win streak with an impressive victory on Sunday. The Bandits will turn their attention to the Adelaide Bite Proudly Presented by SA Power Networks, who found success last Friday in an exhibition game against the Adelaide All-Stars.
Adelaide Bite (1-5) vs. Brisbane Bandits (3-2)
Adelaide will begin their second home stand of the season on Thursday hosting Brisbane at the Norwood Oval. The two teams were well matched last season with the Bite winning five games to Brisbane’s four.
Dushan Ruzic, Zac Fuesser, Darren Fidge, and Seon-Gi Kim will make up the starting pitching rotation for Adelaide. Kim, a Korean import with the Seattle Mariners organisation, is slated to make his ABL debut as the starter for the final game of the series.
More Seattle Mariner imports Nathan Melendres and Ji-Man Choi, who both homered in the win over the Adelaide All-Stars last Friday, will lead the Bite’s offence. Choi will make his ABL debut this weekend and Adelaide hopes the Korean infielder will be the missing piece to the Bite lineup that struggled against Perth and Melbourne.
Round Three’s Delta Air Lines Pitcher of the Week Chris Smith will aim for continued success on the mound for Brisbane. Smith pitched a seven-inning complete-game shutout last Saturday against Canberra, allowing just three hits, walking none and striking out 12.
Japanese import with the Texas Rangers organisation Hirotoshi Onaka holds the highest batting average (.350) of both teams coming into this weekend’s series. Onaka has hit safely in all five games with Brisbane.
Sydney Blue Sox (3-3) vs. Perth Heat (5-1)
Sydney’s pitchers, who boast the lowest ERA in the league (1.83) will be put to the test when they face the Heat, who lead the league offensively in almost every category (.314 batting average, 65 hits, 38 RBIs). Perth took eight of nine games against Sydney last season.
Although the Heat will lack the bat of Corey Adamson this series, who leads the ABL with 9 hits in 23 plate appearances, Perth has no shortage of league batting leaders on their roster with Adam Melker, Luke Hughes andJosh McGee.
The opening game of the series on Thursday at Blacktown International Sportspark features a match-up of potentially the best pitching veterans in the league. Both Sydney’s Chris Oxspring and Perth’s Virgil Vasquez have MLB experience and pitched complete game shutouts in their last ABL appearances. Pitching aces Oxspring and Vasquez have an impressive 0.55 ERA and 0.56 ERA, respectively.
U.S. import pitcher Caleb Cuevas will make his ABL debut for the Blue Sox this weekend. Cuevas came to Sydney under the personal recommendation of his offseason training partner, current Major Leaguer Grant Balfour.Dae-Sung Koo returns to Sydney healthy for the first time this year after playing for rival Perth in the Asia Series, where he pitched through a groin injury.
Infielder Boss Moanaroa also returns to the Blue Sox for the first time this season after representing Team New Zealand in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier, where he hit New Zealand’s only home run of the series.
Canberra Cavalry (2-3) vs. Melbourne Aces (3-3)
Canberra will send Brian Grening (1-0, 2.19 ERA) to the mound against Melbourne’s Kevin Reese (0-1, 2.25 ERA) for the game one start on Friday at Narrabundah Park.
Hirotaki Koishi, Adam Bright and Sam Gibbons are slated to start for Melbourne while Chris Motta and Robert Dickmann will be tasked with starting for the Cavalry for Saturday’s doubleheader.
John Holdzkom will join the Cavalry this weekend after pitching in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier for Team New Zealand. At 201 cm tall, the right-hander could be utilized as a game four starter this series or see time as a reliever.
With back-to-back Players of the Week Carlo Testa and Elliot Biddle, the Aces are a hot-hitting club with a league leading 6 home runs. Kansas City Royals import Testa earned round three honours after going 5-for-11 with a double, a home run, two runs scored, five runs batted in, and a stolen base against the Heat. Along with Testa and Biddle, infielder Brad Harman contributed two home runs to Melbourne’s total.
First baseman K.C. Hobson continues to lead the offensive charge for the Cavalry with 7 hits in 17 plate appearances, two home runs, two runs batted in and a league best .412 batting average.
Round 4 Series Schedule (Home team listed first, times listed locally)
Adelaide Bite vs. Brisbane Bandits
Thursday 22 November - 7:00pm @ Norwood Oval
Friday 23 November - 7:00pm @ Norwood Oval
Saturday 24 November - 4:00pm @ Norwood Oval
Saturday 24 November - 7:00pm @ Norwood Oval
Sydney Blue Sox vs. Perth Heat
Thursday 22 November - 7:30pm @ Blacktown International Sportspark
Friday 23 November - 7:30pm @ Blacktown International Sportspark
Saturday 24 November - 7:30pm @ Blacktown International Sportspark
Sunday 25 November - 12:30pm @ Blacktown International Sportspark
Canberra Cavalry vs. Melbourne Aces
Friday 23 November - 7:00pm @ The Fort at Narrabundah Park
Saturday 24 November - 4:00pm @ The Fort at Narrabundah Park
Saturday 24 November - 7:00pm @ The Fort at Narrabundah Park
Sunday 25 November - 1:00pm @ The Fort at Narrabundah Park
*Featured Game of the Week, airs on Fox Sports 1 on Thursday 29 November at 4:00PM AEST