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PREVIEW: Canberra @ Brisbane
Bandits start title defence against Cavs
11/14/2017 8:27 PM ET
Mitch Nilsson went 5-for-12 against Canberra at Holloway last season (C) SMP IMAGES/ABL MEDIA
Mitch Nilsson went 5-for-12 against Canberra at Holloway last season (C) SMP IMAGES/ABL MEDIA (SCOTT DAVIS)

Brisbane begins its quest for a three-peat of Australian Baseball League crowns at home to Canberra, starting Thursday night.

The Bandits ended the Cavalry's playoff hopes last season in the final weekend of the regular season and will be aiming to inflict more pain on Canberra in the opening round this time around.

Brisbane enters the new campaign with a bolstered pitching staff after allowing a league-high 207 runs last season.

Travis Blackley returns to the ABL for the first time since starting game two of the Bandits' 2015/16 Championship Series triumph, while Tim Atherton crosses from Canberra to link with his third club.

But it is not the only area they have arguably made improvements, with the addition of Chih-Sheng Lin and return of Donald Lutz.

While Brisbane has added pieces to their offence, the Cavs have lost several from their own.

Canberra will not have Scott Kelly, Jason Sloan and Aaron Sloan this season.

The Cavs welcome home Canberra product Cam Warner after he was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 28th round of this year's MLB Draft.

The Perkins brothers, Robbie and Kyle, will again be crucial to Canberra's chances of success a season after playing a key role in its offensive production.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

CAVALRY - Gabriel Arias: Canberra's shortstop is just 17 but ranks a one of San Diego's best prospects. He will no doubt draw comparisons to former Cav and now New York Yankee Didi Gregorius.

BANDITS - Lin Chih-sheng: Lin brings 13 years of professional experience to Brisbane, including four Chinese Professional Baseball League home run titles.

 

OUR PREDICTION

Brisbane 3-1. The Bandits will roll out their new starting rotation to great success and Chih-sheng Lin shows us all what he has to offer. While Brisbane has the bulk of its core in place, with the likes of Aaron Whitefield, Mitch Nilsson and Logan Wade returning, the Cavs will take some time to gel with plenty of new faces. That said, keep an eye on Warner and Canberra's new imports to see how they settle into life in the ABL.

 

PROBABLE STARTERS

GAME 1: Brian Grening (0-0, 0.00) at Ryan Bollinger (0-0, 0.00)

GAME 2: Lake Bachar (0-0, 0.00) at Travis Blackley (0-0, 0.00)

GAME 3: Steven Kent (0-0, 0.00) at Justin Erasmus (0-0, 0.00)

GAME 4: Frank Gailey (0-0, 0.00) at Tim Atherton (0-0, 0.00)

 

SERIES SCHEDULE

GAME 1: Thursday, 6.30pm AEST - Watch live on ABLtv

GAME 2: Friday, 6.30pm AEST - Watch live on ABLtv

GAME 3: Saturday, 3.30pm AEST - Watch live on ABLtv

GAME 4: Saturday, 6.30pm AEST - Watch live on ABLtv

 

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