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Huge eighth propels Thunder to win
Australia rally for eight runs in inning to defeat World Stars
12/17/2014 11:48 AM ET
Luke Hughes (16), Trent Oeltjen, and Australia avenged last year's loss.
Luke Hughes (16), Trent Oeltjen, and Australia avenged last year's loss. (SMP Images/ABL Media)

MELBOURNE, 17 December - In true Aussie form, the national squad never said die in the fourth-annual Australian Baseball League All-Star Game, presented by Levi's®, coming back from a four-run deficit to take the matchup 11-8 at Melbourne Ballpark on Wednesday night.

Led by a late offensive outburst and contributions off the bench, Team Australia took advantage of four walks in the eighth frame. The home squad used a three-run double from Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat outfielder Tim Kennelly and a two-run double from Canberra Elite Cavalry catcher Robbie Perkins to put up eight runs in the inning and take their final lead of the game.

"That's a trait of an Australian baseball team, not giving up," Aussie manager Jon Deeble said. "That's what we talked about - just keep plugging away, just keep plugging away - and Tim came in and he got that big hit and cleared the bases. That was massive for us, and it was a good win."

Kennelly came off the bench in the seventh inning, replacing outfielder Mitch Dening of the Adelaide Bite, proudly presented by SA Power Networks, who recorded two hits and drove in two runs of his own to give the national team an early lead in the opening frame. 20-year-old Perkins took over for Heat catcher Allan De San Miguel in the seventh before his big hit in the eighth.

"They're always ready to play and that's absolutely what we expect," Deeble said. "That's why we've got a close group and a close core…We've got a great culture and a good group of guys who work together and I think that was evident tonight."

For his two-hit, three-RBI performance, Kennelly was named the Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game in front of an impressive Laverton crowd of 2,335. Despite being on the opposition side, Steve Fish, the skipper of both the World squad and the 28-year-old's Heat team was excited to see the success from his player.

"We need those guys to get hot," Fish said. "We've been kind of off and on with some of our guys [in Perth] and not everybody has put it together at the same time. So it was good to see Tim get out there and have that big hit."

The World All-Stars were led by an outstanding display from outfielder Johnny Field, of the Brisbane Bandits proudly presented by Welldog, who paced the offence for the visitors. The Tampa Bay Rays prospect reached base in all four of his plate appearances, had three hits, drove in two runs, scored two, and added a highlight-reel catch in centre field. 

"He's been great," Fish said. "We just saw him last weekend and he had a great weekend against us back in Perth. He's an electric player - he can run, he can hit, he can play defence, and it's just fun to watch him play. I wish I had nine of those guys across the board. Every manager would love to have nine Johnny Fields on their staff."

Canberra Elite Cavalry catcher Jack Murphy, Bite outfielder Aaron Miller, Sydney Blue Sox outfielder Alex Glenn and Heat shortstop Joey Wong each added an RBI for the World squad in the matchup, while Adelaide's Stefan Welch, Sydney's David Kandilas and Brisbane's Logan Wade also each drove in a run for Australia, after a 15-minute delay in the second inning.

In the top of the second frame, home plate umpire Greg Howard was forced to leave the game after being struck by the backswing of Brisbane's CJ Beatty, causing the delay on the field. The unfortunate occurrence moved Stewart Howe from second to the plate, and brought Michael Lyons into the matchup as the new second base umpire.

Ryan Searle got the start for Team Australia, and the Brisbane Bandits right-hander allowed just one hit in his one inning of work. The national squad used 10 different hurlers in relief, with Canberra's Tim Atherton, Sydney's Aaron Sookee, and the Bite's Josh Tols and Matt Williams each adding scoreless appearances.

Melbourne's own Makoto Aiuchi took the hill for the visitors and in the opening frame, the Aces right-hander allowed two runs on two hits with a walk and a strikeout. Blue Sox hurler Markus Solbach, Adelaide's Morgan Coombs, Tyler Brunneman and Craig Stem, Bandits pitchers Jaspreet Shergill and Chen-Hua Lin, and Melbourne's Kentaro Fukukura had scoreless appearances for the World team.

"It was really special to win on home soil," Deeble said. "We had a really big crowd here too which was great for a Wednesday night. We had a big crowd, they were behind us, and when we scored those eight runs they started making noise. That was really important to our players."

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