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Bandits fall to Bite despite six-run comeback
Brisbane fell into a hole early on Friday against the Bite but showed plenty of fight
11/23/2012 9:58 PM ET
C.J. Beatty hit his first home run of the season in the ninth inning
C.J. Beatty hit his first home run of the season in the ninth inning (Ryan Schembri / SMP Images)
BRISBANE, 23 November - Never say die.

That should be the motto of this year's Brisbane Bandits.

The game isn't over until the last out is recorded. The visitors proved just that on Friday night against the Adelaide Bite as they mounted a comeback from an early seven-run deficit in Round Four of the Australian Baseball League, brought to you by 'Be the Influence: Tackling Binge Drinking'.

Brisbane still fell just short against the Bite and despite a valiant effort they dropped the second game of the four-game set by a score of 7-6. It was a tough loss for the men in grey and Bandits manager Kevin Jordan believes that there are improvements to be made.

"We came back," Jordan said. "We were just a little short but I think we helped at least prove to ourselves that we never feel like we're out of any ballgame. They've got a real good club over there. They have real good pitching obviously. We've seen a number of their hitters before so we know how much damage they can do. We just have to try to play a better game earlier against them."

Adelaide starter Zac Fuesser kept Brisbane at bay for the first half of the game. The left-hander had a no-hitter through 5 1/3 innings to go with a seven-run lead from his offence by the fourth. Despite the early hole, the Bandits kept themselves in the game the whole way through.

"We just constantly talk to them about that there's a lot of game," Jordan said. "There are 27 outs on both sides. Offensively, you just try to make the pitcher earn your out. You already know that the majority of the time you get out anyway, even when you're swinging the bat well. So you just try to be a tough out from an offensive standpoint.

"From a pitching standpoint, you just tell yourself you're going to keep it as simple as possible, try to throw strikes, and give the guys behind you a chance to make plays. That's all you can do."

Adelaide scored early and often, starting in their first at-bat of the game. Stefan Welch notched his first RBI of the game in the opening inning, with a one-run double to give the home team the 1-0 lead. Welch kept rolling in the third, leading off the inning with his first home run of the season. The third baseman finished the day going 3-for-5 with those two extra-base hits and two runs driven in.

The Bite plated two more runs in the third to give them a four-run advantage early. With one out in the fourth, Bandits starter James Albury allowed a single to Josh Cakebread and his day came to an end.

The Brisbane native went 3 1/3 innings and allowed five earned runs on seven hits with two walks. Almost two years after having Tommy John surgery, Albury (0-1) is at full strength again for the Bandits, but he battled command problems on Friday night.

"He just wasn't getting his breaking ball over," Jordan said. "As a pitcher, if all you're getting over are fastballs, from an offensive standpoint it makes it a lot easier for a team to hit; to know that the only pitch the pitcher is getting over is something hard or a fastball."

Andrew Marck came on in relief of Albury and made his first appearance with the Bandits this season. Coming back from the World Baseball Classic qualifier with Team New Zealand, Marck showed signs of rust. The Kiwi left the game with just 1/3 of an inning pitched, allowing two runs on no hits with three walks and a strikeout.

Brisbane broke up Fuesser's no-hitter in the top of the sixth inning when Brad Dutton hit a one-out single to right field. The native of South Carolina issued his fifth walk of the night to next batter Josh Roberts to load the bases. The 22-year-old followed with another base on balls to Cody Clark to bring in the Bandits' first run of the game.

That marked the end of the night for Adelaide's lefty. Fuesser (2-1) left the game with 5 1/3 innings pitched, allowing three earned runs on one hit with six walks and two strikeouts. Though he too battled command issues, he impressed Jordan and stifled Bandits batters.

"[Fuesser] was just throwing strikes," Brisbane's second-year skipper said. "He would get a couple strikeouts and a groundout and a flyout. We just couldn't get consistent good swings against him. He was just real effective. He had everything working. His fastball was working, his breaking ball was working; changeup was working. He was a very impressive pitcher."

Wilson Lee picked up right where the southpaw left off, walking in another run and then allowing a third run to come across the plate with a wild pitch. By the end of a messy sixth inning for the Bite, the Bandits had pulled to within four.

Brisbane kept coming in the eighth inning. As the heart of the order stepped to the plate, Roberts notched a one-out ground-rule double to right field and Cody Clark followed with a two-run home run to left field. It was Clark's second home run of the season, although statistically his first long ball will not count until the suspended game in which he hit it is completed.

Down by two in the ninth, C.J. Beatty provided some more offence for the Bandits. The designated hitter launched his first long ball of the season to right field, pulling Brisbane to within one. Though the Bandits couldn't get any more across the plate, Jordan saw some positives in the game.

"It was good," the manager said of Beatty's home run. "I've seen him play club ball and stuff so it was good to have him come out here. He, and same with when Adam Gordon was with the team, these guys come in and they jump right into the mix of guys.

"I think it's important that they get in there like they have early on and mingle with the guys. That way the guys can welcome them. Obviously every week our roster is a little different and our guys do a good job of making everyone feel that they are a Bandit. Everyone that puts our uniform on is a Bandits player and our guys do a real good job of making sure that they're welcome."

The Bandits will take on the Bite in a doubleheader on Saturday to finish up the four-game set in Adelaide. Brisbane will send Chris Smith to the mound in the first game, the recipient of the Delta Air Lines Pitcher of the Week award for Round Three, hoping he can have a similar performance to last week.

Chuck Lofgren will take the hill in the final game of the series and the Californian southpaw will make his debut as a Bandits starter. Through one relief appearance this season Lofgren has allowed just one unearned run in three innings with one strikeout.

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