The Bandits are in.
For the second straight year, the Brisbane Bandits, proudly presented by WellDog, solidified a spot in the Australian Baseball League Championship Series. In a do or die Game 3, the Bandits rose to the occasion, securing the final win of the Australian Baseball League Preliminary Final over the SA Power Networks Adelaide Bite, 18-2.
Statistically speaking, the Bandits and the Bite had the capability of an offensively powered Game 3, but Sunday's outing took a bit of time getting there due to the superb starts from Rick Teasley and Steven Chambers.
Teasley was phenomenal in Game 3, performing under pressure in stud form. The left-hander recorded nine strikeouts and allowed just three hits and one run Sunday afternoon.
Head Coach Dave Nilsson couldn't say enough about his Game 3 starter.
"Today was all about Rick Teasley. He threw seven of the toughest innings I've seen him throw in two years, so the whole thing is about him. He put us in great position and we wore down their bullpen and our hitters had a bit of fun at the end there," Nilsson said.
The Bandits flipped the switch in the bottom-of-the-fourth, igniting an offensive explosion at AFA Stadium at Holloway Field. Over the course of five innings, the Bandits plated 18 runs and tallied 23 hits, clinching that coveted spot in the ABLCS.
Trent Oeltjen was the first to strike in Game 3, sending a solo home run over the right field wall. Just one inning later, Ryan Battaglia fired another solo shot, this time over the left field wall for a 2-1 Bandits lead.
The Bite's pitching staff was a gift that kept on giving. With Mitch Nilsson and David Rodriguez on second and third base, Logan Wade stepped into the box and drove a line drive single to right field, scoring Nilsson. Kevin Padlo continued the trend, delivering an RBI single to left field to plate another run and extend the lead, 4-1.
The Bandits weren't done just yet.
At the hands of two of Brisbane's veterans, the hottest-hitting team in the ABL plated a massive six runs in the bottom-of-the-seventh. Logan Wade struck first, dropping a two-run home run to right centre field. Over the next three at-bats, the Bandits loaded the bases, setting the scene for Battaglia. With two outs and two strikes, Battaglia launched a bomb over the left field wall, recording his first grand slam of the year and putting the ABLCS in reach with a 10-1 lead.
Batting practice continued into the bottom-of-the-eighth for the Bandits as Mitch Nilsson and David Rodriguez launched back-to-back home runs, extending the home side's lead, 12-2.
As if a ten-run lead wasn't enough, Brisbane showed they had plenty more in the tank. In the bottom-of-the-eighth, the Bandits plated an astounding eight more runs, including three home runs, putting on a show for the crowd in the final game of the ABLPF.
The Bandits' offence accounted for 23 hits, 18 RBI's and seven home runs Sunday afternoon. With pressure amounting in the second half of the season, the Bandits performed under the highest stakes.
"The last six weeks it's been do or die baseball and we got there. We're going to Melbourne," Nilsson said.
With the Bandits' massive Game 3 win Sunday afternoon, the tickets are punched and the scene is set. The Brisbane Bandits will meet the Jet Courier Melbourne Aces in the 2017 ABLCS for a best-of-three series at Melbourne Ballpark. Game 1 of the ABLCS is set for the 10 of February at 6:30 p.m. AEST.
Ticketing information for those traveling to Melbourne for the ABLCS will be posted within the day. Stay tuned!