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Adelaide clinch playoffs with 15-3 smashing of Sydney
01/28/2017 3:13 AM ET
Mitch Dening and LeDarious Clark celebrate a huge win over Sydney as they look to finals on Friday night.
Mitch Dening and LeDarious Clark celebrate a huge win over Sydney as they look to finals on Friday night. (Ryan Schembri / SMP Images / ABL Media)

ADELAIDE, JANUARY 28 - For the third season in a row, the Adelaide Bite, proudly presented by SA Power Networks, will be in the ABL postseason after a 15-3 demolition of the CompassMarkets.com Sydney Blue Sox.

With the win, Adelaide will host either Brisbane or Canberra on Friday night in the best-of-three ABL Preliminary Series at Adelaide Shores Baseball Complex.

Devon Barker (W, 1-0, 3.48) pitched a win in his ABL starting debut, while the bats of Mitch Dening, Jordan Cowan and Jordan McArdle fired after an early deficit to help complete a comprehensive comeback.

Some early errors and fielding mis-haps hurt Adelaide as Sydney opened up a 3-0 lead, but it was not enough for the Blue Sox with Adelaide chipping away to tie the game up in the fourth inning, before launching a stunning assault which even shocked Manager Steve Mintz.

"I didn't expect it to end quite like that," Mintz said.

"We left some runners out there, made some mistakes early and didn't get our runs but when [Jordan] McArdle ran into that grand slam, that was the beginning of the end."

In warm conditions, both teams worked hard to keep the scoring at a minimum, with Sydney benefiting from a crazy hop early on which saw Josh Dean drive in the opening run with McArdle left stunned as the ball bounced over his head.

It soon turned ugly as Mitch Dening and Karl Hoschke collided in the outfield on an Alex Howe knock, and the ball ultimately bounced away to the fence as Sydney scored twice for a 3-0 lead.

Adelaide recovered, though, chipping away off a wild pitch which saw Stefan Welch score, before Dening bunted in the second run for Adelaide and Karl Hoschke tied it up with a ground out RBI.

The flow of runs continued in the fifth inning and Sydney could do nothing to stop them once the bases were loaded against Luke Wilkins (L, 3-4, 4.50).

"The boys started feeling it and we just kept adding on," Mintz said.

"We got the runs we needed and thankfully we got it over with."

A dropped catch by catcher Guy Edmonds arguably summed up the night, with the ball bouncing out of his glove in what should have been a simple grab, and Adelaide loaded the bases soon after, before McArdle smashed his third home run of the season.

The 18-year-old mashed a grand slam over the right field fence which turned the tide of the game completely as the Bite jumped out to an 8-3 lead and Mintz praised his side for the comeback, and Barker for the great start.

"The last three or four weeks we've been bouncing back, coming back," he said.

"Barker threw the ball good - we had a bad hopper and on two out the fielder's ran into each other and they got their three runs. He did exactly what we needed and we were able to get the runs we needed."

From there the game exploded as the runs kept coming and Sydney could do nothing when Welch tapped in another run, while pinch-hitter Alex Carter brought up Adelaide's 10th run in the sixth inning.

It all fell apart for the Blue Sox after just six innings when Aaron Sookee walked in two runs on loaded bases, and Cowan collected his third hit of the night.

Cowan's hit drove in one run for a 10-run lead, while a throwing error to first on the same play saw another two player cross the plate in an crazy inning for a 15-3 lead.

The pace slowed down after that as Matt Williams, Tyler Chappell and Loek van Mil pitched Sydney further out of the game, with van Mil striking out three in the ninth to slam the door - again.

Adelaide (22-17) is now 1.5 games ahead of Brisbane (20-18) in second, with Canberra (20-19) two games behind after the Bandits claimed an 11-inning win on Saturday. It leaves third place up in the air, while the Bite will definitely finish second, and Mintz is not worried about who he has to play.

"I don't care; all we asked for all year was a chance and we got it," he said.

"We're going to try and make the best of it. We're gonna do what we've been doing and we're ready. We're poised to go and play good baseball."

The final game of Adelaide's series is Sunday at 12PM with Angus Roeger playing his 150th game for Adelaide while 16-year-old Ky Hampton will make his starting debut for the Bite.

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