SYDNEY, 28 December - The Sydney Blue Sox (13-15) were defeated 9-2 by the Brisbane Bandits (11-17) on Saturday night at Blue Sox Stadium, however the baseball was upstaged by the benches-clearing brawl that took place in the fourth inning.
On a Steven Greer double that sent Joey Rickard and Patrick Leonard home, Leonard collected Sox catcher Danny Arribas in a clean collision at home plate. Heated words were exchanged between Leonard and Arribas, but what followed sent both teams into a melee behind home plate.
Bandit Josh Roberts flew out of the first base dugout and blindsided Arribas with a cheap shot to the head. Within seconds, more than forty players and staff were involved in a brawl as things exploded at Blacktown International Sportspark.
After a short conference, the 'third man in' Josh Roberts was ejected by the umpires, to the roar of the Sydney crowd. The violent incident raising the intensity of the home crowd, despite the scorecard balanced in Brisbane's favour.
Sydney scored first runs of the fixture in the second inning, Michael Lysaught driving in Zac Shepherd and Trent Schmutter on a two-out double.
Brisbane responded with one in the third, but added six in the fateful fourth frame, to lead 7-2. The visitors tacked on two more in the ninth on their way to a 9-2 victory.
"Credit to Brisbane's hitters tonight" commented Blue Sox manager Jason Pospishil, "Positives for us included the three young guys making their home debuts. Tough night for us but it's a clean slate tomorrow, and we'll go get 'em"
Sydney's starter Connor Whalen (3-4, 2.93) took the loss, conceding seven runs, four earned in his 3 1/3 innings. In an out-of-character outing, the lefty scattered 10 hits with one walk and no strikeouts.
In his first start of the season, Brisbane's Andrew Aizenstadt (2-2, 3.38) earned the win, going 5 2/3 digs on five hits, two runs, three walks and five strikeouts.
Due to Whalen's short start, five pitchers made appearances for Sydney, Van Steensel tossing the longest stretch at 1 2/3 frames. Josh Guyer contributed a scoreless sixth followed by the first ABL appearance at home for three Sox pitchers, Dean Aldridge, Jeff Lyons and Keiran McCluskey.
The two sides return for another state-of-origin battle at 6:00 p.m. Projected starters are Aaron Sookee (2-4, 3.03) for Sydney and Ryan Searle (3-0, 1.23) for Brisbane.