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Round 12 preview: Sydney at Canberra
Rivals clash with first place on the line
01/16/2013 10:01 AM ET
Sydney manager Jason Pospishil takes his team south to face Michael Collins' Cavalry
Sydney manager Jason Pospishil takes his team south to face Michael Collins' Cavalry (SMP Images)
SYDNEY, 16 January - Entering the penultimate round of the regular season, the Sydney Blue Sox (22-16) travel down the Hume Highway to take on the Canberra Cavalry driven by Rolfe Renault (22-16) in a four-game series with the two teams in a dead tie for first place.

The Sox swept the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces in a four-game set last week, and paired with the Cavalry dropping five games in three days to the Brisbane Bandits, the teams enter this weekend tied with just eight regular season games remaining.

It's expected to be a closely contested series, as Canberra holds a 4-3 edge over the Blue Sox through the first seven games these teams have played against each other this season. The Blue Sox took two of three from the Cavalry in the season's opening round, before Canberra visited Sydney and won three of four on the road in Round Six.

"It'll be nice to continue a pretty decent rivalry, Blue Sox manager Jason Pospishil said. "They've certainly been the benchmark of the ABL to this point and Narrabundah Ballpark is always a tough place to play."

The story of the weekend will be Sydney's pitching against Canberra's hitting. The Sox pitching staff leads the league in ERA (2.96), runs allowed (138), home runs allowed (21) and saves (15), while Canberra is tops in the circuit in home runs at 39, batting average at .295 and on-base percentage at .363.

Sydney's pitching is coming off two record-breaking performances over the weekend, as Chris Oxspring broke his own record for strikeouts in a season at 75. On Friday, the Round 11 Delta Air Lines Pitcher of the Week Matt Williams notched his record-breaking 13th save of the campaign, before registering saves number 14 and 15 the final two games.

The Cavalry are led offensively by Kody Hightower, Adam Buschini, Jeremy Barnes and Ryan Stovall who all rank in the top seven in the league in batting average. On the other side of the diamond, Sydney's Mitch Dening continues to have a solid season, moving all the way up to fourth in the league in batting average at .338 and leading the circuit with 48 hits.

Game one could prove to be one of the best pitching matchups of the season, as Craig Anderson, the league's ERA leader, takes the ball against Canberra's ace Brian Grening. The right-hander has faced Sydney twice this season and has allowed just two runs in 13 innings.

"It's just another four regular season games like any other," Pospishil said. "We'll have to play solid fundamentally and hopefully our pitching will continue to be as good as it has. We have to approach this just like any other series we've played."

Sydney Blue Sox @ Canberra Cavalry driven by Rolfe Renault, 17-20 January, Narrabundah Ballpark

  • Thursday, 17 January - 7:00 pm - LHP C. Anderson (6-2, 1.71 ERA) vs RHP B. Grening (4-1, 2.85 ERA)
  • Friday, 18 January - 7:00 pm - RHP C. Oxspring (4-1, 2.30 ERA) vs LHP R. Dickmann (3-4, 4.70 ERA)
  • Saturday, 19 January - 7:00 pm - LHP B. Thomas (1-2, 3.18 ERA) vs RHP C. Motta (3-2, 5.58 ERA)
  • Sunday, 20 January - 1:00 pm - RHP T. Atherton (2-1, 2.29) vs RHP J. Holdzkom (3-3, 4.82 ERA)

Sydney Blue Sox Probable Round 12 Roster

Craig Anderson
Tim Atherton
Caleb Cuevas
Tyler Herr
Dae-Sung Koo
Wayne Lundgren
Chris Oxspring
Brad Thomas
Todd Van Steensel
Luke Wilkins
Matt Williams

Shane Benson
Trent D'Antonio
Geoff Klein
Boss Moanaroa
Zach Penprase
James Robbins

Mitch Dening
Trent Schmutter
Ricky Schwarz
Chris Snelling
JD Williams

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