SYDNEY, NSW -- With the 2016/17 Australian Baseball League season halfway done, the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces started to pull away with a commanding four-game lead at the top of the league ladder.
While the Aces remain in first place, the second-place shuffle dance continued last weekend, with the Canberra Elite Cavalry taking control of the second spot on the ladder. The SA Power Networks Adelaide Bite hold a one-game advantage in third, and the CompassMarkets.com Sydney Blue Sox sit tied with the Brisbane Bandits, proudly presented by WellDog, for fourth place. The Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat round out the ladder in fifth.
CANBERRA (11-9) def. PERTH (6-14)
The Cavalry moved into sole possession of second place thanks to a 3-1 homestand win over the Heat. Toronto Blue Jays prospect D.J. Davis mashed a go-ahead three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to lead Canberra to a 5-2 series-opening win. The Cavalry saved the drama for the late frames in Game 2 as well, scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth frame en route to a 5-4 win. Kyle Perkins' three-run home run was the driving force in that rally.
Perth rallied late for their lone win of the series, taking Game 3 by a 6-4 final score in extra innings. They scored two runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game, and added another pair in the top of the 11th for the win. However, the Cavalry rolled over the Heat in the series finale, winning the game 7-2 and the series 3-1. San Diego Padres farmhand River Stevens went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and Kyle Perkins slugged his fifth longball of the year in the win.
MELBOURNE (15-5) swept SYDNEY (9-11)
The ladder-leading Aces cemented their spot in first, sweeping the second-place Blue Sox at home. Kansas City Royals prospect Roman Collins' sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth led the Aces to a 5-4 walk-off series-opening win. Keisuke Honda (4-0, 1.21) had another dominant outing in the first game of a doubleheader the next day, tossing six innings of three-hit shutout baseball and setting the tone in Melbourne's 6-2 win.
The Aces completed the series sweep with a pair of 5-0 shutout wins in the final two games of the series. Allan de San Miguel hit a two-run homer and Dushan Ruzic (2-1, 3.00) struck out seven batters in Game 3, and de San did it again in the series finale, belting a three-run home run in support of starting pitcher Jon Kennedy's (1-1, 4.12) five-inning, six-strikeout performance.
BRISBANE (9-11) split with ADELAIDE (10-10)
Two teams in need of a series win fought hard and emerged from the weekend with a split in South Australia. Donald Lutz and Mitch Nilsson both went yard in Brisbane's 10-6 win in the series opener. LeDarious Clark went 3-for-4 with an RBI, two runs scored and 3/4 of the cycle to lead Adelaide's offence in Game 2, as the home team won 4-3.
But the Bandits wouldn't relent, shutting out the Bite 3-0 in the third game of the series. Daniel Nilsson (1-1, 6.00) tossed six no-hit innings and struck out three batters against his former club to pace Brisbane in the win. The Bite came from behind to take the finale 6-4, leading to the series split. Clark scored three runs and drove in one, and Matt Williams tossed three shutout innings of relief in the win.