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SEASON IN REVIEW: Brisbane Bandits
Bandits dynasty shows no signs of coming to end
02/28/2018 11:02 PM ET
Travis Blackley and his Brisbane teammates celebrate clinching the Claxton Shield for a third-straight year (C) SMP IMAGES/ABL MEDIA
Travis Blackley and his Brisbane teammates celebrate clinching the Claxton Shield for a third-straight year (C) SMP IMAGES/ABL MEDIA (SMPMAGES.COM)

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 Brisbane Bandits. 

Brisbane created a slice of history - and added a chapter to its dynasty - as it became the first team in Australian Baseball League history to capture a three-peat of titles.

The Bandits were best from go to woe, winning their opening six games of the season and finishing two-and-half games clear of Perth by the end.

Brisbane ranked second in the league for batting average and runs scored, along with home runs.

They also led the league in ERA despite playing half their games at hitter friendly Wild Moose Stadium.

Ruts were few and far between for the Bandits.

Brisbane endured just two multi-game losing streaks, a four-game skid following their 6-0 start and consecutive losses in the final round of the regular season.

Returning imports Donald Lutz and T.J. Bennett starred, tying former Melbourne slugger Kelling Deglan's single-season homer record.

Long-time Bandits David Sutherland, Mitch Nilsson, Logan Wade and Andrew Campbell were all instrumental in the title run.

While Tim Atherton made a successful switch to Brisbane, forming a formidable rotation alongside Ryan Bollinger and former big leaguer Travis Blackley.

The bullpen was equally impressive, led by all-time saves leader Ryan Searle, Matt Timms, Zac Treece and Sam Holland.

 

What went right

In a word … everything.

The Bandits started hot and barely got down to a simmer as they went 28-11 during the regular season.

Brisbane was red-hot at home, winning 16 of 20 games played at Wild Moose Stadium whilst blasting 64 homers.

All up they crushed 96 bombs across the season and scored 312 runs (second behind Perth) behind the stingiest pitching in the league.

Donald Lutz and T.J. Bennett both hit 16 homers to tie the ABL record, while David Sutherland (.356 batting average) and Andrew Campbell (.298 with nine home runs) enjoyed career years.

The Bandits' pitching compiled a league-best 4.56 ERA with left-handed starters Ryan Bollinger and Travis Blackley leading the team with five wins.

Bollinger finished with a 3.48 ERA while Tim Atherton put together an ERA of 4.15.

 

What went wrong

They failed to win the ABL Championship Series in two games?

But seriously, how do you put question marks next to a team just weeks ago crowned champions for the third-straight year.

A shaky series in Melbourne - when they lost all three games and managed just three runs - was a lowpoint but a blip on the radar.

Brisbane lost consecutive games just once more for the season, against Canberra on January 26-27 when top spot was clinched.

Aside from that, we ran out of superlatives to use when mentioning the Bandits.

 

Most impressive win

Defeated Melbourne 23-6 at Wild Moose Stadium on January 11.

Brisbane's offence went berserk in game one of its round eight series against Melbourne, blasting a team-record eight homers.

David Sutherland hit three of them, going 4-for-6 with five RBIs, while Lin Chih-Sheng went deep twice.

Daniel Nilsson and Jake Turcato hit their maiden ABL home runs in the rout.

On the mound, left-handed starter Ryan Bollinger struck out six in five innings.

 

theABL.com.au Player of the Season

T.J Bennett

Bennett returned to the Bandits for a third-straight season and was instrumental in Brisbane reclaiming the Claxton Shield.

He hit .338 in 37 games, homering 16 times to equal the ABL single-season record.

Bennett racked up 100 total bases and drove in 34 runs.

He also homered twice in the playoffs.

 

Highlight of the season

There was plenty of highlights for Brisbane during the 2017/2018 ABL season but claiming the Claxton Shield for a record-breaking third-straight year is hard to top.

 

2017/2018 grade: A+

Brisbane confirmed its status as a dynasty with a third-straight Claxton Shield.

The Bandits again reaped the rewards of going through dark days in the early years of the reborn ABL.

Several players - including Sutherland, Wade, Campbell and Nilsson - who were part of the tough times are now playing pivotal roles in Brisbane's success.

And with several younger players making the most of their opportunities throughout this season the Bandits' future is bright and a four-peat a big chance.

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