The Brisbane Bandits (12-14) came into the game against the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces (8-19) looking for another solid performance after Thursday's 5-1 win at the scenic RNA Showgrounds in Brisbane. The Bandits came in very much in contention for a first ever playoff appearance while the Aces entered at the bottom of the ABL ladder.
After a brief weather delay, the Bandits started Chris Smith on the mound facing off against Melbourne's Kevin Reese. The Bandits struck early, after retiring the Aces in the first inning, Andrew Campbell tripled to kick off the bottom of the inning and scored on a fielder's choice to third by Brad Dutton staking the home team to a 1-0 at the end of one. The Aces were thwarted by timely Bandit double plays in the top of the third and fourth innings after Smith struck out the side in the second. After three innings, the Bandits held the 1-0 advantage.
The Bandits struck again in the bottom of the fourth when Josh Roberts opened with a double and came around to score on C.J. Beatty's single to right. From there, Reese held Brisbane in check, coaxing David Sutherland to fly out coupled with Beatty getting thrown out on a steal attempt. At the end of four the scoreboard reflected a 2-0 Bandit advantage.
The score remained 2-0 until the bottom of the seventh inning when Carlos Alonso singled to left before Reese recorded strikeouts of Mitch Nilsson and Hirotoshi Onaka. From there, Alonso stole second base and Andrew Campbell drew a walk ending the night for Reese. Brad Dutton greeted new pitcher Zach Arneson with a two RBI double just out of the reach of Aces centre fielder Elliot Biddle extending the Brisbane advantage to 4-0 before Josh Roberts popped out to end the threat.
Chris Smith struck out three batters again to start the eighth inning, taking his total to 14 strikeouts for the night and keeping the Bandits on top 4-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth. Smith held the Aces in check and recorded a new Australian Baseball League record 15th strikeout on the last out of the ball game.
Brad Dutton sparked the Bandit batting attack with three runs batted in; he was supported by C.J. Beatty who garnered two hits and an RBI. Leadoff man Campbell scored two of the four Bandit runs. The visitors from Melbourne garnered five hits for the evening.
Smith took the win, going the distance, giving up five hits to go with the fifteen strikeouts while improving his record to 3-3 on the season. Kevin Reese suffered the loss, dropping his ledger to 0-5 for the season.
Smith looked back on his night saying "From the get go, you lock yourself in, I knew the rain was coming but you block out all of those distractions. Cody (catcher Cody Clark) did an excellent job back there, we were on the same page and you just have to execute your pitches from there. The two RBI hit was huge, they lost a bit of momentum and we gained a bit, it was a big win for us. We're so close as a team, getting these first two wins is huge, hopefully, we can get a win tomorrow and then look for a sweep on Sunday."
Fans are encouraged to come out and support the Bandits Saturday night as they look to clinch the series. Come one, come all as it is Ballpark Buster night and the Bandits will be looking to stake a claim on the attendance record for the league. The first pitch is set for 6pm so get down to the RNA for the exciting ABL action.