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Bandits atop table as ABL enters Rd. 4
Rematch of last two ABLCS on tap for Cavalry, Heat
11/18/2014 7:41 PM ET
Logan Wade leads the first-place Bandits into Adelaide this week.
Logan Wade leads the first-place Bandits into Adelaide this week. (SMP Images/ABL Media)

Through three rounds, the ABL's lone team without a Postseason berth over the last four years are in prime position to assert themselves for the entirety of the 2014/15 fixture. The Brisbane Bandits lead the ladder entering Round 4 with the Sydney Blue Sox in hot pursuit. Both of the league's top two sides are on the road this week in a round that also features a rematch of the last two ABL Championship Series.

Brisbane Bandits, proudly presented by WellDog, (8-4) at Adelaide Bite, proudly presented by SA Power Networks (4-4) - Norwood Oval

Having surged to the top of the table by way of back-to-back series wins over Melbourne, Brisbane will see a familiar foe in Round 4. The Bandits and Bite squared off during this season's opening round and split four games at AFA Stadium at Holloway Field.

Brisbane have shown an adept ability to pull out victories in close games so far this season. The Bandits have won eight of their last 10, and five of those wins have come by a single run. Under new manager Dave Nilsson, Brisbane are at their best mark through 12 games of any of their five ABL seasons.

Tampa Bay Rays import Tommy Coyle earned Delta Air Lines Round 3 Player of the Week honours for the Bandits after a weekend series during which he batted .500. Coyle and his Tampa teammates Johnny Field, Granden Goetzman, and Maxx Tissenbaum have formed a potent core for Brisbane's lineup. The Bandits have been aided by local Minnesota Twins prospect Logan Wade, as well. Wade is tied for second in the ABL with three home runs and hammered blasts in back-to-back games to close Round 3.

With splits in their first two series of the year, sandwiched around a Round 2 bye, the Bite will be bolstered by the return of young talent in Round 4. Former Rookie of the Year Ben Lodge and pitchers Wilson Lee and Josh Silvi are back from representing Team Australia in the 2014 21U Baseball World Cup.

Adelaide claimed victories in six of the 11 matchups between these two sides last season.

Series Schedule
THU, 20 November - 7:00pm ACDT
FRI, 21 November - 7:00pm ACDT
SAT, 22 November - 7:00pm ACDT
SUN, 23 November - 1:00pm ACDT
Sydney Blue Sox (7-5) at Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces (2-6) - Melbourne Ballpark

With each side coming off disappointing showings in Round 3, Sydney and Melbourne clash for the first time this season looking to take a step forward as the calendar nears December.

The Aces enter Round 4 with just two wins, but of their six losses this season, four have come by one run. Melbourne's struggles, though, have been on both sides. Their .223 team batting average and .518 staff ERA both rank last in the league, as do their 31 runs scored.

Melbourne have, however, gotten steady production from veteran Victorian and former Major Leaguer Brad Harman as well as Philadelphia Phillies import Chace Numata. Harman's .360 batting average is sixth-best in the ABL, and his on-base percentage and slugging percentage are in the top five in the circuit, as well. Numata is batting .355, also a top-10 league mark.

With wins in their first two games over Canberra last weekend, Sydney looked poised to keep their spot atop the table. The Blue Sox dropped their final two, though, to slip one place behind the Bandits entering the season's fourth week.

The Sox have relied on a different formula in seasons past than in this one, where they rank second in the ABL with a .275 team batting average and fifth with a 5.07 ERA. Veteran Sydneysider and former big leaguer Trent Oeltjen continued his torrid pace at the plate in Round 3. Oeltjen is hitting .360 this season and bashed his first two homers of the year in Sunday's loss to the Cavs.

Melbourne and Sydney matched up eight times last season, and the Aces earned victories in five of those contests, including three in four games in Victoria.

Series Schedule
THU, 20 November - 7:305m AEDT
FRI, 21 November - 7:35pm AEDT
SAT, 22 November - 5:05pm AEDT
SUN, 23 November - 2:05pm AEDT
Canberra Elite Cavalry (3-5) at Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat (4-4) - Barbagallo Ballpark

Having battled for the last two Claxton Shield premierships, Canberra and Perth continue their closely contested series with their first meeting of the 2014/15 campaign in Western Australia.

The Cavalry were staring down the possibility of a second straight series defeat at the hands of the Blue Sox when they rallied to earn a split in Round 3. Canberra rode a dominant pitching performance from Oakland Athletics prospect Tim Atherton to a victory on Saturday and then roared back from an early 5-0 deficit on Sunday to seize a series finale win.

Round 4 marks the first time Canberra will play an opponent other than Sydney this season. The Cavalry are in the middle of the pack in league offence (.239 team batting average, fourth) and pitching (4.58 staff ERA, third). Atherton's two victories are tied for the league lead while reliever Jake Brown's 1.29 ERA is fourth-best in the circuit.

Perth have split each of their first two series this season and are coming off of two wins in four games on the road at Adelaide in Round 3. The Heat staved off a possible series loss behind terrific work from their relief corps on Sunday as four pitchers combined to allow just one Bite run in 5 2/3 innings. Perth pitchers have posted a 4.32 staff ERA this year, second-best in the league.

Perth boast two of the league's top four hitters in former Helms Award winner Tim Kennelly (.394) and Jordan McDonald (.379), and their team batting average of .300 is tops in the circuit.

A season ago, the Heat won seven of the 11 meetings between these two teams in the regular season. In their second consecutive ABLCS matchup, Perth swept Canberra with wins in two consecutive one-run games of the best-of-three series.

Series Schedule
THU, 20 November - 7:20pm AWST
FRI, 21 November - 7:20pm AWST 
SAT, 22 November - 4:05pm AWST
SAT, 22 November - Game 2

Tyler Maun is the ABL's staff writer and a contributor to, the Official Site of Minor League Baseball. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.