An offensive explosion has ignited in Melbourne.
After suffering two gut-wrenching losses at the hands of the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces, the Brisbane Bandits, proudly presented by WellDog, flipped the switch at Melbourne Ballpark, capitalising on opportunities en route to a Game 3 win, 19-4!
Everything seemed to fall in the favour of the Bandits Saturday night. In the largest win of the season, Brisbane recorded 21 hits and allowed just six hits on the opposing side.
The Bandits were 11-for-19 with runners in scoring position, making the most of their chances; a obstacle that the Bandits struggled with in the first two games. With RISP, Brisbane was 4-for-12 Thursday night and 1-for-15 Friday night.
Ryan Rowland-Smith set the tone in his Bandits debut as the former big leaguer recorded six strikeouts and allowed just three walks and one hit over four complete innings.
Rowland-Smith's stellar start for the Bandits found an abundance of support from Brisbane's bats. The Bandits tallied six home runs and 21 total hits, seeing each Bandit in the starting lineup log at least one hit Saturday night.
The Bandits built a 4-1 lead through five complete innings, but it was the top-of-the-sixth that broke the door wide open for the first win of the series. Trent Oeltjen ignited the storm with a solo home run to right centre field. Tommy Milone followed with a walk and Connor Macdonald advanced the centre fielder to second base with a single to left field.
Macdonald has come into his own as of late, going 5-for-6 with two RBI's and two runs in Saturday's outing.
Wade Dutton stepped into the box and delivered the second run of the inning, driving an RBI single to center field.
Dutton had an incredible night of his own, going 3-for-4, plating three runs and scoring two of his own.
The Aces' pitching staff replaced Brandon Stenhouse with Matt Wilson in the top-of-the-sixth, but the flurry of runs continued. Wilson walked David Sutherland to load the bases with no outs. A force out at home created the first out of the inning and brought Donald Lutz to the dish. Lutz drove an RBI single to left field and extended the Bandits' lead, 7-1.
In the largest park in the ABL, Logan Wade stepped into the batter's box and delivered a one-out grand slam to left centre field. The Bandits still weren't finished after Wade's first home run of the year, as the reigning ABL champions recorded four more runs for a 15-1 lead.
In the offensive heavy top-of-the-sixth, every Bandits player in the line-up crossed the plate.
Brisbane returned in the top-of-the-seventh with more horsepower as David Rodriguez and Trent Oeltjen belted back-to-back home runs extending the lead, 19-1.
Rodriguez was 3-for-5 with two home runs, three runs, three RBI's and a walk.
Oeltjen had a night of his own as well, driving two home runs out of the park in Saturday's outing.
Ty'Relle Harris relieved Rowland-Smith of his duties in the top-of-the-fifth and threw his way to his first win of the season. Harris recorded six strikeouts and allowed just three hits and one run over 3.2 innings.
Melbourne showed a late rally in the bottom-of-the-ninth, tallying two more runs off a throwing error by Logan Wade. The rally was short lived as Rhys Niit and the Bandits sealed the deal, retiring Ryan Dale for the final out of the game and securing the win, 19-4.
The Bandits and Aces meet for the final game of the series tomorrow, Sunday, the 7th of January, at 12:00 p.m. AEST. Justin Erasmus has the Game 4 start as the Bandits look to split the series.