SYDNEY - After a wild finish to the regular season, the Compass Markets 2014 ABL Preliminary Final presented by Be the Influence is here. It came down to the final game of the regular season, but with the dust settled, the Canberra Cavalry, driven by Rolfe Renault will take on the Sydney Blue Sox in the first round of the 2014 ABL Postseason.
For the first time in league history, this year's Preliminary Final will be split among two host cities. The league's closest geographic rivals will contest their best-of-three series at Narrabundah Ballpark and Blue Sox Stadium. Having clinched second place in the league, the Blue Sox will own home-field advantage by hosting the two potential decisive games in New South Wales. This year's series opens at The Fort in Canberra on Friday from 7 PM AEDT. Games 2 and (if necessary) 3 will be back in Sydney. Game 2 is slated for Saturday from 6 PM and, if the series is tied after two contests, Game 3 will be Sunday afternoon from 4 PM.
These Hume Highway Cup rivals were evenly matched throughout the course of the 2013/14 ABL regular season. Sydney claimed the first trophy of this rivalry series by winning six of the 11 games between the two teams in 2013/14. Although the Blue Sox took victory in the season series by virtue of a Round 11 series win, it was Cavalry third baseman Jeremy Barnes who was the star of the set.
The former Philadelphia Phillies prospect torched the Blue Sox last time the two teams met. Barnes picked up Delta Air Lines Player of the Week honours after hitting .500 on the series with four doubles, a triple and two runs batted in.
Barnes is not the only Cavalry to be named Player of the Week after a big series against the Blue Sox. Canberra utility man Casey Frawley did the same in Round 6. Frawley had his way against Blue Sox pitching in that early December set, going 8-16 from the plate with two doubles, a home run, two stolen bases, six runs scored and five runs batted in. Unfortunately for Canberra, Frawley has been in a bit of a slump as of late, collecting just three hits in his past ten games.
Although he was only with the Blue Sox for one of the three series against the Cavalry, Trent Oeltjen experienced great success against Canberra. The former major leaguer made easy work of Cavalry pitching in his series against the defending champs, going 5-11 with a home run, triple and three RBI.
The former Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Oeltjen rejoined the Blue Sox last weekend after being away from the team since Round 4 and made his presence felt in a big way. Oeltjen recorded five hits in the three games he played in this past weekend against the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces. During his limited time with the Blue Sox this season, Oeltjen has batted .435 with four home runs, 14 RBI and a 1.338 OPS.
Tickets are on sale now for Game 1 in Canberra and Games 2 and (if necessary) 3 in Sydney.