TOP OF THE TABLE
Two of the league's three playoff spots have been clinched. Sydney notched their trip to the 2013 ABL Postseason with a victory in Thursday's series-opening win over Brisbane and assured themselves of at least a second-place finish with a Friday victory over the Bandits.
Canberra punched their ticket to the tournament on Friday night with a victory on the road at Adelaide, eliminating the Bite from playoff contention. The Cavalry, who had lost on Thursday to slip out of a first-place tie with the Blue Sox, regained their even margin atop the table on Saturday when Sydney dropped a 4-2 decision to Brisbane and Canberra followed with a 12-2 rout of the Bite.
What remains to be seen is which side will finish the year atop the heap. The Blue Sox had the upper hand until Saturday's games erased their one-game lead. Australia Day gave new life to Canberra's pursuit of a regular season title. The league's top seed earns a straight pass through to host the 2013 Australian Baseball League Championship Series from 8-10 February at their home ground.
For the Cavalry, the formula is simple. A Sunday win over Adelaide earns Canberra the right to host the ABLCS at Narrabundah Ballpark in the franchise's first trip to the ABL Postseason. That honour would come courtesy of Canberra's win over Sydney in the two sides' 2012/13 season series. The Cavalry claimed six of their 11 clashes with the Sox this season.
In order for Sydney to guarantee the ABLCS would take place at Blacktown International Sportspark, the equation is more complicated. The Sox need a win on Sunday afternoon over Brisbane--which would eliminate the Bandits from playoff contention--and an Adelaide victory over Canberra to clinch the top spot. Sydney, who play Sunday's first game from 12.30pm ET, will be eliminated from contention for the top seed with a loss this afternoon.
Two teams remain alive for the league's third and final playoff spot. The Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat have taken down Melbourne in the first three nights of their Round 13 series, picking up their first series win since November and coming from a game behind to overtake Brisbane for sole possession of first place. Like Canberra, all the Heat need to do is win on Sunday. A victory (or a Bandits loss in their Sunday afternoon affair against the Blue Sox) seals the final playoff spot for Perth. After winning the ABL's first two Claxton Shield titles, the Heat are fighting to defend their crowns.
The Bandits, like the Blue Sox, need help to play baseball beyond Sunday. A victory over Sydney would not ensure a Postseason trip for Queensland's side which is still searching for its first ABL playoff berth in the circuit's third season. The Bandits need both a win and a Heat loss to the Aces to earn their way to the 2013 ABL Playoff Series. If that happens, Brisbane would play Sydney once more at Blacktown International Sportspark with the winner moving on to face Canberra with the Claxton Shield on the line.
Brisbane Bandits (23-22) at Sydney Blue Sox (26-19)
If Sydney win: Brisbane eliminated; Blue Sox can clinch top seed with Canberra loss
If Brisbane win: Blue Sox eliminated from top seed contention, will finish #2; Bandits can clinch #3 seed with Perth loss
If Adelaide win: Coupled with a Sydney win, Canberra finish #2 and host the 2013 ABL Playoff Series next weekend at Narrabundah Ballpark
If Canberra win: Cavalry clinch #1 seed in ABL Postseason, will host 2013 ABL Championship Series from 8-10 February at Narrabundah Ballpark
If Perth win: Heat clinch #3 seed, will travel to Canberra or Sydney for 2013 ABL Playoff Series
If Melbourne win: Coupled with a Brisbane win, Heat eliminated from playoff race; moot point if Brisbane lose at Sydney earlier on Sunday