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Bite v Heat: Who will melt under pressure?
Adelaide ready to keep the momentum rolling
01/03/2018 6:47 PM ET
Stephen Lohr dives to make a play at third base in Perth earlier in the season.
Stephen Lohr dives to make a play at third base in Perth earlier in the season. (James Worsfold/SMP Images/ABL Media)

Nine games separate the Perth Heat and the Adelaide Bite, proudly presented by SA Power Networks, and with the Bite holding onto playoff hopes this is another chance to pull off an upset.

Anything less than a series win could prove decisive and with some key Under-18 players away at the Australian Youth Championships it will be a challenging series.

After his blistering start to ABL life, Curtis Mead is possible the biggest absentee while Jack O'Loughlin is also away as he farewells life as a junior baseball player ahead of his first season in the USA.

ROSTER

Pitching: Mosel, Koura, Powell, Hutchings, Brebner-Russ, Williams, van Mil, Chambers, Lee, T. Day, Chappell, Horne (development), Duncan (development)

Hitting: Quiroz, Nooij, McArdle, Chang, Ayarza, Lohr, Roeger, D. Day, van der Linden, Hoschke, McGarry, Ridding (development)

Reserve: Mike Tamburino, Connar O'Gorman, Chen Kuan-Jen

Opportunities for the likes of Karl Hoschke and Chris Horne are incredibly valuable with the duo needing some strong form. Hoschke has struggled and so far only has one hit from five games (11 at-bats) while Horne most recently allowed five hits and three runs at home ro Brisbane.

If any player coming into the team wants to travel next week, they need to impress this series, however small the chance.

Big hitters come to town

Starting off with the hard stuff is not always fun, but the stats this weekend do not lie - Perth can hit. From one game less they have 101 runs more than Adelaide. Yep, you read that right, 101. Their team average is .302 compared to .221 for the Bite and those stark numbers are a worry. In the reverse fixture, the Heat won 3-1 and outscored Adelaide 33-22.

Leading the charge in hitting is the likes of Michael Brosseau with a .411 average, and Tim Kennelly at .407. With Jake Fraley and Jesse Williams also hitting well above average this is another potent hitting line-up.

In Brisbane the stats did not matter with the Bite forcing a split, proving they are turning the season around. There's Darius Day who is .237 over his past 10 games - comfortably above his season average of .195, and the outfielder can be a leading light to fellow strugglers.

Pitching problems

This season has not been a good one for pitchers throughout the league with Brisbane the only side with a team ERA below 5.30. The last time more than three teams finished with an ERA over 5.00 in the ABL? Never - showing this season could be a true outlier.

Starting rotations on either side of the field have struggled and for Perth their saving grace is scoring. Kyle Simon and Nick Veale are hovering around the 7.00 mark - yet Simon has three wins, while even former starter Tom Bailey is 3-0 despite a 7.20 ERA.

Contrasted with Greg Mosel who is 1-5 at 4.26 it is clear how beneficial run support is and perhaps the new shining light is Ryo Koura. He struck out 12 in seven innings for the series split in Brisbane and when the Japanese gun starts on Friday night he has a chance to make another big statement. Not to be outdone, Loek van Mil is arguably in career-best form in closing with 11 strikeouts in his last 4 1/3 innings.

Who wins?

Coming off a 32-10 win, Perth literally could not have more momentum. But when that matches up with a series split against the leaders, it looks relatively even. The weather will play a factor this weekend with quick pitching a focus, and hitting pressure a must. Starters will need plenty of rest in the high temperatures and while it's a well-used cliché, Adelaide really will need to beat the heat.

Series split

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