SYDNEY, 8 February - The 2013 Be the Influence ABL Championship Series presented by Futuretronics kicks off Friday night at 7:00pm at “The Fort” at Narrabundah Ballpark. The best-of-three game series will continue on Saturday night at 7:00pm and if necessary a third and final game will be played Sunday night at 7:00pm.
After sweeping the Sydney Blue Sox last weekend in the ABL Preliminary Final presented by Fielders Choice, the two-time reigning ABL champions, the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat will compete against the top-seeded Canberra Cavalry driven by Rolfe Renault in their first ever championship series appearance.
The full series will air live on FOX Sports 2 at 7:00pm AEDT. Saturday night’s game will be a “Red Button” option where Foxtel viewers can select between different sporting events to watch game two of the ABLCS. MLB Network will air the complete ABLCS in the United States on Friday at 1:00pm ET and Saturday and Sunday at 3:00pm ET. FOX Sports in Asia, Sky New Zealand, and Australia Network will also broadcast the ABLCS. The ABL Championship Series will be broadcast into over 50 countries. In addition, a live digital broadcast of the series will be available on ABC Grandstand.
Canberra Cavalry (27-19) vs. Perth Heat (25-21)
The Canberra Cavalry finished the 2012/13 ABL season on top of the league ladder to host the Championship Series ahead of third place Perth Heat. Canberra will not only make their first Championship Series appearance, but also their first postseason appearance in ABL history after narrowly missing the final spot the past two seasons. On the contrary, over the last two seasons the Heat have finished in first in the standings and hosted the Championship Series.
Canberra took both series from Perth in the regular season, winning six of eight games against the Heat. The back-to-back series against Perth was seen as turning point in the Cavalry’s season as they gained momentum to reach the top of the ABL standings.
Both sides have comparable team statistics, ranking at the top of the league in batting average with a .295 average for Canberra and a .267 average for Perth, and in the middle of the league with a 4.02 ERA for Canberra and a 4.04 ERA for Perth. The Championship Series is likely to be a high scoring affair with the top two offences facing off for the Claxton Shield.
Canberra and Perth will start their aces on the mound in game one of the Championship Series: Brian Grening (4-2, 2.87) will get the start for Canberra against Perth’s Anthony Claggett (4-5, 3.31). John Holdzkom (4-3, 4.10) will take the mound on Saturday with Warwick Saupold (1-1, 2.59) on the bump for the Heat. If the series should require three games, Canberra’s Chris Motta (3-3, 5.39) and Perth’s Daniel Schmidt (7-3, 3.72) will start on Sunday night.
Sixteen players on ABL Championship Series rosters are currently affiliated with 11 different MLB clubs. Eleven players on the Heat roster are affiliated with nine MLB clubs in comparison to five Canberra players affiliated with four MLB teams. Perth brings more MLB experience to the field with two former Major Leaguers on their roster: Luke Hughes and game one starter Claggett. In the upcoming World Baseball Classic, one Cavalry player suit up for Team Australia while six will represent Australia from Perth.
Canberra and Perth picked up the final Delta Air Lines Player and Pitcher of the Week awards in round 13. Perth’s Jack Frawley pitched eight scoreless innings in his first start of the season to earn the title but will emerge from the bullpen in the Championship Series. Frawley followed up his Pitcher of the Week performance with two innings of scoreless relief and three strikeouts against Sydney in the Preliminary Finals last weekend.
Canberra’s Adam Buschini, recipient of the ABL’s first Triple Crown, was signed the San Diego Padres organisation following his round 13 Player of the Week performance. Canberra leads the league with five Delta Player of the Week awards and one Pitcher of the Week honour while Perth claimed two Pitcher of the Week awards without a single Player of the Week title throughout the season.
Both teams have momentum going into the Championship Series, with the Heat winning their last six games, sweeping the Melbourne Aces in four games in the final round of regular play and defeating the Sydney Blue Sox in a doubleheader at the Preliminary Final. The Cavalry also finished their regular season on a high note, taking the last three games from the Adelaide Bite proudly presented by SA Power Networks, but have had two weeks off to prepare for the upcoming ABLCS.
The Cavalry are expecting a sell-out crowd at Narrabundah Ballpark for their first ABL Championship Series. With limited tickets still available fans should purchase their tickets as soon as possible to ensure getting entrance into this monumental series. Tickets can be purchased online here.