SYDNEY, 3 January - Round 10 of the Australian Baseball League brought to you by Be the Influence: Tackling Binge Drinking boasts all rematches from last week, with the opposite team hosting each series. The round begins Thursday night as each team will play one game a day through Sunday. The Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces will host the Brisbane Bandits, the Adelaide Bite Proudly Presented by SA Power Networks will host the Sydney Blue Sox and the first-place Canberra Cavalry driven by Rolfe Renault will host the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat.
Adelaide Bite (13-17) vs. Sydney Blue Sox (17-13)
A series win against Adelaide has elevated Sydney to second place (tied with Perth) in the ABL ladder while the Bite have dropped below the Bandits in league standings. Sydney will hope to build onto their three-game winning streak, their longest of the season, and Adelaide will seek revenge on the Blue Sox at home.
Quincy Latimore will make his season debut for Adelaide as he replaces injured Justin Howard, fellow Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand. Latimore was one of the stars of the Bite's inaugural season in 2010/2011, finishing the season with a .313 batting average with 36 hits and 25 runs batted in.
Sydney’s Brad Thomas, a former Major Leaguer, will his first start of the year in game three and has yet to surrender an earned run in two relief appearances this season.
The Blue Sox’s closer Matt Williams has a shot at history this week, as with two saves he’ll become the league’s single-season record-holder for saves in a season. He currently has 11 in as many chances, trailing only teammate Dae-Sung Koo’s record of 12 set in the inaugural season. Chris Oxspring is just seven strikeouts away from the league single-season record of 71, which he set in the 2010/11 season.
Canberra Cavalry (19-9) vs. Perth Heat (17-13)
After the Cavalry took the series in Perth from the Heat, Canberra stands at the top of the league ladder with a two and a half game lead. Perth currently shares second place with Sydney, but a series win at the Fort in Narrabundah Ballpark could put the Heat within a half game from first place. The Heat will be seeking revenge after losing three at home, which was evident by their performance in the final game of round nine when they scored 19 runs to beat the Cavalry on New Years Eve.
Both teams boast the strongest hitters in the league, which contributed to last weekend’s series averaging just under 17 runs per game. Canberra’s Ryan Stovall took round nine honours as the Delta Player of the Week after going 9-for-20 with two home runs, two doubles, and a triple to drive in seven runs against the Heat. Teammate Adam Buschini leads the league in runs batted in (24) and Kody Hightower leads the ABL in hits (38), while Perth’s Corey Adamson claims the highest batting average (.395).
Virgil Vasquez, who leads the ABL with a 1.60 ERA, will make his last appearance of the season for Perth due to his return to America following round ten. The return of reliever Brendan Wise, who has a 0.79 ERA in seven appearances with 11 strikeouts, will add strength to the Heat’s bullpen.
Melbourne Aces (9-21) vs. Brisbane Bandits (14-15)
The Bandits were able to jump a spot on the ABL ladder after winning three of four games against Melbourne at home in round nine. In round ten the Aces will have home field advantage, as they will rematch the Bandits at Melbourne Ballpark.
Brisbane’s Chris Smith established a new ABL record by striking out 15 Aces to earn his third Delta Air Lines Pitcher of the Week honours this season. Over nine innings, the right-hander scattered five Aces hits without issuing a single walk. Smith moved into the top spot in the league in strikeouts with 65, one better than Sydney's Chris Oxspring. Ironically, the 15-strikeout performance also one-upped the league's previous record, last established by Oxspring, as well.
In order to combat Brisbane’s stellar pitching staff, the Aces have added several new faces to the roster for round ten, with infielder James Beresford being the most notable inclusion. Beresford played for the Aces in the inaugural ABL season and most recently played with the AA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, where he hit .266 in 114 games throughout the season.