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Bite unearth young talent in challenging season
02/12/2018 10:21 PM ET
It was a rough season for Adelaide as the Bite missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013/2014 (C) SMP IMAGES/ABL MEDIA
It was a rough season for Adelaide as the Bite missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013/2014 (C) SMP IMAGES/ABL MEDIA (Ryan Schembri)

With the Australian Baseball League Championship Series done and dusted, we take a look back at how each team fared during the 2017/2018 season in reverse finishing order. Today we look at the Adelaide Bite.

Adelaide fell to the bottom of the Australian Baseball League with a thud, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013/2014.

The Bite broke the league record for fewest wins (11) in a season as they struggled to overcome the loss of veterans Stefan Welch and Mitch Dening entering the season.

Adelaide battled through the first half of the season, winning four of 20, but started to show life in the back end of the campaign.

Rookie manager Chris Adamson gave some young players opportunity and the Bite added starting pitcher Ryo Koura and Taiwanese outfielder Chen Kuan-Jen.

It made a difference as Adelaide hung in playoff contention - at least mathematically - until the final fortnight of the regular season.

Utlimately they fell short, before claiming a breakthrough series win over Sydney in round 10.

Curtis Mead was one of the shining lights, going 19-for-51 (.373) in 20 appearances, while several other stars of South Australia's drought-breaking under-18 team at the 2018 Australian Youth Championships featured for the Bite.

Imports Stephen Lohr, Rodrigo Ayarza, Chang Tai-shan and right-hander Chris Powell put together solid seasons.

Meanwhile, Greg Mosel established himself as the number one pitcher in Adelaide's rotation, finishing second on the team with 42 strikeouts while compiling an ERA of 5.37.

Tim Day was also solid out of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.84 ERA in eight appearances.

Adelaide won its final three games after warming up in the month of January and with further development of their youngsters and right mix of imports could bounce back sooner than its win-loss record would suggest.


What went right

Not a lot.

The Bite started 1-11 and were never really in the hunt even with a fourth playoff spot up for grabs.

Adelaide's imports failed to deliver, with pitcher Max Beatty, catcher Isaias Quiroz and outfielder Darius Day all released before the end of the season.

They brought in reinforcements but also gave the future of South Australian baseball a shot.

Infielder Curtis Mead, 17, looked particularly comfortable while Mason Clavell, Dylan Ridding, Brodie Arriola and Harrison Knuckey each picked up their first ABL hits.

Throw in 19-year-old Jordan McArdle and pitchers Jack O'Loughlin, Ky Hampton and Tyson McKee and the Bite have an exciting group of youngsters coming through the ranks.

The Chang Tai-shan experiment was a success - on-and-off the diamond - and Greg Mosel established himself as the number one pitcher in the Bite's rotation.


What went wrong

Adelaide's offence never really clicked into gear as they felt the loss of Stefan Welch and Mitch Dening.

The Bite averaged just 2.78 runs per game across their first nine games as they got off to a horror start under Adamson and never really got hot.

They hit .213 in November, .226 in December and by the end of the season had lifted the team average to .252.

Quiroz hit a measly .137 in 22 games and Day .190, while Angus Roeger finished strongly but compiled a batting average of .183 across the season.

Jordan McArdle, on the back of his first season in the minors, did not quite recapture the form shown during his rookie ABL season.

The 19-year-old hit .202 after struggling when thrust into the heart of the batting order for part of the season.

Albeit working from behind more often than not, Adelaide's pitching struggled too.

They sat through most of the season with the worst ERA in the league before finishing fourth ahead of Melbourne and Sydney.


Most impressive win

Defeated Brisbane 5-3 at Wild Moose Stadium on December 31

Ryo Koura struck out 12 in his first appearance for Adelaide as the Bite earned a split against Brisbane at Wild Moose Stadium on New Year's Eve.

The win - just the Bite's sixth of the season - gave Adelaide some momentum heading into 2018.

The Bandits led 2-0 before the Bite rallied.

Darius Day and Rodrigo went back-to-back in the fifth and Angus Roeger drove in the go-head run in the sixth.

Chang Tai-shan added his second homer of the series as Adelaide added late insurance runs to end 2017 on a high. Player of the Season

Stephen Lohr

The Texas Rangers' prospect was one of Adelaide's most consistent performers.

He finished the season hitting .376 with six home runs and 23 RBIs.

Lohr finished hot, hitting .407 (fourth-best in the ABL) with five home runs in January.

The 22-year-old was also rock solid defensively at third base.

After committing three errors in nine games during November, he made just one more in the final 31 games of the regular season.


Highlight of the season

In his final at bat in the Australian Baseball League, Taiwanese legend Chang Tai-shan hit a grand slam as Adelaide defeated Sydney to claim a series win at West Beach.


2017/2018 grade: C-

If not for the emergence of youngsters, including Curtis Mead and Mason Clavell, in the second half of the season it would have been a D for the Bite.

Adelaide battled big time through the first half of the season as the offence failed to deliver and its pitching cracked under pressure. Too often the Bite committed rookie errors and failed to capitalise on clutch moments.

The Bite's 11 wins were the fewest in the league's history, leaving plenty of work to be done next season as they try and climb the ladder like Perth did this season.


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