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Round 11 Preview: Sox, Heat still battling
Two sides tied for second place behind Canberra
01/10/2013 2:32 PM ET
Oakland A's pitcher Travis Blackley returns for Melbourne in Round 11.
Oakland A's pitcher Travis Blackley returns for Melbourne in Round 11. (MLB.com)

SYDNEY, 10 January - Round 11 of the Australian Baseball League brought to you by Be the Influence: Tackling Binge Drinking begins Thursday night with the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat returning home after their second straight series loss to the Canberra Cavalry driven by Rolfe Renault, who have a four and a half game lead in first place. Perth will host the Adelaide Bite Proudly Presented by SA Power Networks, who are coming off a series win against the Sydney Blue Sox. The Blue Sox will take on the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces, who swept the Brisbane Bandits last weekend at home. The Cavalry will travel to Brisbane and take part in a five-game series beginning Friday in order to complete a suspended game from earlier in the season.

Perth Heat (18-16) vs. Adelaide Bite (16-18)

The two-time reigning champions the Perth Heat share second place with the Sydney Blue Sox and are trailed closely by the Adelaide Bite, who will come into the series with some momentum after winning three games of four against the Blue Sox. Perth has lost seven of their last ten games and will need to bring the heat against Adelaide, who has had a stable five wins and five losses in their last ten games. The four-game series beings Thursday night at Narrabundah Ballpark in West Australia.

Perth’s Carter Bell was hot at the plate in round ten, going 8-for-14 (.571) with one double, one home run and five runs batted in. Bell is on a seven game hitting streak going 14-for-26 (.538) with ten RBIs. Outfielder Corey Adamson currently leads the league with a .393 season batting average.

Stefan Welch, Ben Lodge and import Nathan Melendres were key contributors to the Bite’s offence in round ten. All three players hit above .333 on the series with Welch and Lodge each hitting a pair of home runs and Melendres blasting one long ball. Quincy Latimore had a notable return to Adelaide as he came up with critical plays both offensively and defensively for the Bite in centre field.

Adelaide showed strength out of the bullpen from closer Richard Olson and reliever Andrew Kittredge. Both right-handed pitchers appeared in three games against Sydney and only gave up two hits each. Olson pitched five scoreless innings, striking out six and walking one batter, while Kittredge pitched 4.2 scoreless innings with three strikeouts and no walks.

Sydney Blue Sox (18-16) vs. Melbourne Aces (13-21)

The Blue Sox suffered a close series loss on the road while Melbourne earned their first sweep of the season. Sydney still sits at the top half of the league, tied in second place with Perth and Melbourne remains in the league cellar but has closed to the gap to just a game and a half behind Brisbane. The Blue Sox will host the Aces for a four-game series starting Thursday night at Blacktown International Sportspark in New South Wales.

The Aces received their first Pitcher of the Week honours when leftie Adam Bright was awarded the title after his first win of the season. Bright pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out eight Bandits and only allowing four hits and two walks.

Current Major Leaguer Travis Blackley will join Melbourne’s active roster for the first time this season and make the trip to Sydney where he is expected to come out of the bullpen. In 2012, Blackley pitched in four games for MLB’s World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants and ended the season with MLB’s American League West Champions, the Oakland Athletics where he went 6-4 with a 3.86 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 24 games, including15 starts. This will mark Blackley’s third season with the Aces.

Melbourne’s outfielder Elliott Biddle hit the first inside the park home run in Melbourne Aces history last Friday. Infielder Josh Davies went 7-for-16 (.438) in round ten, hitting a double and a long ball out of Melbourne Ballpark to drive in six RBIs. 

Sydney’s Matt Williams tied the ABL single-season saves record, with 12 saves in as many chances, held by teammate Dae-Sung Koo who had 12 saves in the 2010-2011 season. Williams will likely have the opportunity to break the record this weekend against the Aces.

Brisbane Bandits (14-19) vs. Canberra Cavalry (22-11)

In Round 11, the Bandits and Cavalry will pick up where they left off on November 17, 2012. The round three game was suspended in the top of the fourth inning with one out due to unsuitable weather conditions. (Click here to view the box score from the suspended game.) The game will recommence at 5:30pm at the RNA Showgrounds with Brisbane leading Canberra 6-1. *For more information on the rules and regulations regarding suspended games, please refer to the bottom of this press release.

After being swept by the Aces, the Bandits will welcome the five run lead over Canberra, who now have a solid lead of four and a half games at the top of the ABL ladder.

Game two of the five-game series will last seven innings and begin 20 minutes after the resumed game concludes on Friday (expected 7:45pm start time). The teams will compete in a doubleheader on Saturday, with a seven inning game commencing at 4:00pm and a full nine inning game beginning at 7:00pm. The final game of the series will be played on Sunday at noon.

Canberra was awarded their fifth Delta Player of the Week award when Adam Buschini received the title for round ten. Buschini went 8-for-17 on the weekend with three home runs and nine runs batted in. Buschini currently leads the league in three batting categories. His nine RBIs in round ten moved Buschini's total to 33 on the season, nine more than second place. Buschini also leads the league with nine home runs and a .644 slugging percentage.