SYDNEY, 13 December - Round Seven of the Australian Baseball League brought to you by 'Be the Influence: Tackling Binge Drinking' begins Thursday night as all teams begin four-game series with a doubleheader on Friday and a ballgame Saturday afternoon. Round Seven boasts the same matchups as Round Four, with a different side hosting each series. In Round Four all six teams split their four-game series, so every team will be looking for a series victory when they rematch in Round Seven.
The Brisbane Bandits host the Adelaide Bite Proudly Presented by SA Power Networks for Brisbane’s first series of the season at their home stadium, the RNA Showgrounds. The Sydney Blue Sox travel to face the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat and the Canberra Cavalry driven by Rolfe Renault will compete against the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces.
Round Seven will end Saturday, just in time for the 2012 ConocoPhillips ABL All-Star Game presented by ‘Be the Influence: Tackling Binge Drinking’ at 2:00pm on Sunday, 16 December at Melbourne Ballpark.
Brisbane Bandits (8-9) vs. Adelaide Bite (8-10)
The Adelaide Bite have finally made their way out of the league cellar after earning their first series win by sweeping the Melbourne Aces last weekend at home. The Brisbane Bandits will come home for their first series of the season playing at the RNA Showgrounds, their home field. After splitting their last series with Perth, the Bandits remain in fourth and sit at just a half game back from the Bite, who have advanced to fifth place. Either team will need a series win in order to get above .500 and boast a winning record when they meet for their second and final time of the season on Thursday.
Adelaide’s offence came alive last weekend, scoring 33 runs in four games. Eighteen runs were scored in Saturday night’s 18-1 victory, marking the most runs scored in a game by Adelaide in club history (in the new ABL). Adelaide now leads the league with 91 runs, 82 RBIs and 18 home runs.
The hot offence resulted in back-to-back Delta Air Lines Player of the Week awards for Adelaide. Round Six’s Player of the Week Justin Howard batted .643 (9 hits in 14 at bats) with 6 runs scored, 4 doubles, and 4 RBIs. US import and Pittsburgh Pirate affiliate Howard is no stranger to racking up hits. In his final year of college baseball for the University of New Mexico, Justin led the entire country in hits for the season. Howard leads the ABL in home runs (7) followed by Nathan Melendres who is tied for second place with four home runs, two of which he hit last weekend against the Aces.
Round Five’s Player of the Week Angus Roeger followed up his award winning performance with a strong series, hitting .455 with two home runs and 7 runs batted in. Notably, Ben Lodge hit two home runs in the series andJosh Cakebread earned the victory for Adelaide on Sunday with his walk off hit in the bottom of the ninth. On the mound, 2012 ABL All-Star Paul Mildren pitched 6 scoreless innings.
Brisbane’s Starter Chuck Lofgren shined in his first game one start last weekend against Perth, pitching 6.2 innings with 11 strikeouts. Jimmy Schult made his ABL debut, starting last Sunday’s game against the Heat. Schult pitched three innings, allowing one run on three hits with three walks and three strikeouts. He was held to a pitch limit, as it was his first ABL game, but should see more time on the bump against Adelaide.
Melbourne Aces (6-12) vs. Canberra Cavalry (10-7)
After dropping their last six games, the Melbourne Aces have fallen into the bottom of the ABL ladder and will look to climb back up when they host the Canberra Cavalry in Round Seven. The Cavalry have jumped to second place after taking three games from the Blue Sox in Round Six and rank only 1.5 games behind first place Perth. Canberra has won seven of their last ten games.
Canberra’s Sean Toler became the first pitcher who is not a starter to earn Delta Air Lines Pitcher of the Week honours as he claimed the title in Round Six. The closer leads the league in saves, recording seven of Canberra’s eight saves on the season. Toler earned two saves in Round Six after pitching three scoreless innings over three games, striking out six batters and allowing only two hits.
Former Major Leaguer Shane Lindsay had a rocky return to the mound as he made his season debut for the Aces on Sunday. Lindsay allowed 5 runs in 2.2 innings pitched against the Bite and will look to get his groove back against the Cavalry before the All-Star game on Sunday, where he will suit up for Team Australia.
2012 ABL All-Stars Carlo Testa, Brad Harman and Elliot Biddle all hit long balls last weekend and are a consistent threat to pitchers in the league. Canberra's starting rotation will need to keep an eye out for these Aces at the plate.
ABL World-All Stars Kody Hightower and KC Hobson came through with clutch hits for the Cavalry last weekend. Hobson continues to be Canberra's most reliable batter with 20 hits and 13 RBIs this season.
Perth Heat (12-6) vs. Sydney Blue Sox (9-9)
The Perth Heat still remain at the top of the ABL while the Sydney Blue Sox have dropped down to third place after losing last weekend’s series to the Cavalry with two games ending unfavourably for the Sox in extra innings. In the month of December, Perth’s 4-3 record and Sydney’s 3-4 record put the two teams on a more level playing field.
David Kandilas hit a home run in his season debut with the Blue Sox and came out of his first series back with an impressive .350 batting average. ABL World All-Star Zach Penprase stayed hot in the batters box and leads the league in hits (24).
Perth’s Allan de San Miguel is just one hit behind Penprase leading the league in hits; the two will have the opportunity to tack on more as they rival each other in the upcoming series and the following All-Star Game, as de San Miguel will suit up for Team Australia.
Perth and Sydney will send familiar starters to the mound, although Sydney has shaken up their rotation with plans to send Craig Anderson (2-1) to the bump in game one. Perth’s Virgil Vasquez (3-1) will aim to bounce back from an uncharacteristic start last weekend, allowing 6 earned runs in 6.1 innings to the Bandits.