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Harman's walk off earns Aces first win
Veteran blasts solo homer leading off 11th inning
11/08/2014 5:29 AM ET
Brad Harman
Brad Harman (SMP Images/Brett Crockford)

LAVERTON, 8 November - Brad Harman became the first hero for the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces in the young Australian Baseball League season on Saturday night, coming up big with a walkoff home run to take down the Brisbane Bandits 2-1 at Melbourne Ballpark.

The former Philadelphia Phillies infielder was the difference-maker in a particularly windy pitching duel that was a stark contrast from Friday night's hot and dry series opener that saw eight home runs between the two teams.

"That was outstanding," Aces manager Tommy Thompson said. "What a game, a pitchers' duel. The elements really changed with the wind and if we would have played [this game] last night, we would have hit about four more home runs.

"But what an outstanding win. Harman, local hero, big leaguer, and he defied the wind. That ball was unbelievable, how it stayed on the line. He hit it and he hit it well, so it was a great win for the team and that was exciting."

Harman led off the 11th inning and came up to the plate just looking for a pitch to square up, trying to put something together against Bandits reliever Justin Erasmus, who was into his fourth inning out of the bullpen.

"I was just trying to get on top and hit a line drive," Melbourne's shortstop said. "I knew the ball wasn't carrying. Then when I got to a 2-0 count it was the same thing, he left it up in the zone, I put a good swing on it and it came off well…

"At the end of the day, we got into the 11th inning and we wanted to come away with a win in any way we could, so we're happy it ended up that way. As long as we ended up winning, I was happy either way."

With the team's first win of the year under their belts, Harman and the Aces (1-1) look to continue to build off of their successes and keep pushing forward.

"It's the second series for most other squads and it's only our first, so just getting a chance to play with each other and build a relationship on the field and at the plate was good," Harman said. "We'll come together a bit stronger as the series goes on and hopefully we'll keep doing it."

Melbourne's first victory of the season was helped by outstanding pitching from some new faces. Georgia native Nick Blount got the start and threw an impressive six innings, allowing just one run on three hits, walking none and striking out four. Blount faced the minimum through five frames.

Cody Buckel came on in relief and put up three great innings of his own. The Californian gave up just one hit, walked two and struck out four. Kazuki Miyata threw the final two innings for the Aces and earned the victory with a solid two-inning performance. Miyata (1-0) allowed one hit and fanned four batters.

"I'm really happy for these guys," Thompson said. "We got beat last night pretty good and they played a complete game today against some good pitching on the other side, so it was a really nice win."

Ryan Searle took the hill for the Bandits (3-3) and kept the Aces hitless into the seventh inning. He completed 6 2/3 before being knocked out of the game with his fifth walk. He allowed back-to-back hits from third baseman Josh Davies and Chace Numata to give up Melbourne's first run of the game. Searle added seven strikeouts to his total.

"He can pitch," Thompson said. "Obviously he can pitch. He knows what he's doing, he competes, he's got a good sinker, good slider, and he looked like he mixed in a changeup. He kept the ball down and it was a great day to pitch for anybody with the elements but he still looks like a quality, quality starter."

Erasmus (0-1) completed 3 1/3 innings and allowed just the solo home run. He gave up two hits, walked none and struck out three hitters. Brisbane scored its lone run in the sixth when Josh Roberts led off the frame with a double down the right-field line and Ryan Battaglia followed with an RBI-single to take the lead.

The Aces and Bandits meet for the third game of the four-game set on Sunday afternoon at Melbourne Ballpark. Melbourne will send Makoto Aiuchi to the mound and Brisbane will counter with southpaw Masato Goto. First pitch is scheduled at 2:05pm.

To schedule an interview with manager Tommy Thompson or the Aces players, contact Mitch Keller at mkeller@melbourneaces.com.au or on 0478 010 026.

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