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Playoff hopes dashed in tight loss
Bite fall 4-3 in another classic clash with Melbourne
01/20/2018 2:54 AM ET
Chris Powell kept the Bite alive by retiring 10-straight hitters.
Chris Powell kept the Bite alive by retiring 10-straight hitters. (Ryan Schembri/SMP Images/ABL Media)

With the Melbourne Aces holding on for a 4-3, and a 2-1 series lead, the season is nearly over for the Adelaide Bite, proudly presented by SA Power Networks.

Five games remain and there is plenty of pride to fight for with a series split on the line, and a series win still on offer against the faltering Sydney Blue Sox next week.

Our three takeways from tonight.

Playoffs? Next year.

It's been a good three years for the Bite. An ABL home-and-away season title, two ABLCS appearances - including one at Norwood with the league's largest crowds ever - and playoff baseball in each of those three seasons. Now it's a year off and a chance to address what happens next. How do we keep developing Nick Hutchings or Chris Horne, how do we tap into the full potential of Karl Hoschke - those are big questions for 2018.

The final five games of the season may see some bigger changes with even more emphasis on the next generation, but already we know they are good.

Jordan McArdle will get better from another year with the Diamondbacks, Jack O'Loughlin heads over to pitch with Detroit, while there's still developing Bite talent in college. Add in the likes of Curtis Mead, Ky Hampton, Mason Clavell and Tyson McKee as current teenagers getting a run and this team has a core group which will be full of talent very, very soon.

A quiet top order

It's been rare, but we saw the top four hitters go hitless. To his credit, Stephen Lohr had two walks and a run, but the bulk of the runs came from the guys hitting in seventh-ninth. On the plus side, it's the depth Adelaide has been looking for all season, it's just unfortunate it's mostly appeared after the halfway mark.

Tonight the strikeout curse returned as the experienced duo of Mark Hamburger and Matt Marksberry pitched a combined eight strikeouts and ultimately every hitter had a frustrating at-bat to their name. Late inning relievers Dan McGrath and Sam Street also picked up strikeouts in the eighth, cutting any Bite rally short. With the mix of strikeouts and top order hitters fighting to get on base, a major spark with the bat was missing and it left the Bite chasing without much luck after the third inning.

Powell can go the distance

Not many starters this season have gone seven innings for Adelaide. Max Beatty did so in a doubleheader to earn the complete game win, while Ryo Koura went seven on debut as Loek van Mil backed him up for the win.

Chris Powell's night started off a little uncertain, but once he started getting the strikeouts he really hit his groove and at one point retired 10 straight Aces. From 103 pitches he had 68 strikes and across seven innings only allowed four hits, four runs and two walks, while picking up six strikeouts. 

The only downside was the fact three hits were home runs and from the fast start of the Aces their bats were hot early and there'sarguably little any pitcher could have done to stop the big hits. Over the course of the whole night we definitely think Powell matched Hamburger - and even bettered him at times.

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