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What we learned - Round 6
Check out eight things we learned from round six
12/23/2018 6:24 PM ET
 

The North-East Division flexed its muscle over the weekend, topping South-West Division opponents in three of four Brut Australian Baseball League series.

Sydney's four-game sweep over Perth was by far the most impressive result, but Canberra and Brisbane also collected wins to stay in the thick of the playoff race.

While in Mount Gambier's first taste of ABL action, Adelaide took three of four games from Auckland.

Here's what we learned from round six action:

 

1. The Blue Sox are the real deal

Sydney put to rest question marks over its form against contenders, recording an emphatic series sweep over Perth in Western Australia.

The Sox did not exactly do it the easy way, grinding out a comeback win in game one before blowing a six-run lead and taking game three in extras.

But that makes it more impressive.

Entering their round five series win over Melbourne the Sox were 2-6 against foundation ABL teams.

But back-to-back series wins have proven they are a genuine title contender.

From this position, surely this is the year Sydney finally makes a trip to the ABL Championship Series.

 

2. Curtis Mead is getting hot

The 18-year-old Bite infielder got off to a slow start the season on the back of his first MiLB campaign.

But Adelaide's 2017/18 Rookie of the Year showed the impact he can have over the weekend, and continues to warm as the season gets deeper.

Mead, a Phillies prospect, had a day out in Mount Gambier on Saturday, going 6-for-9 with 10 RBI across the doubleheader.

He blasted two homers, including his first ABL grand slam, and lifted his batting average to .216 across the four-game series.

 

3. The Aces have some work to do

Melbourne's 3-1 series defeat to Brisbane, on the back of an identical result against Sydney in Blacktown a week earlier, has the Aces in a tie with Adelaide for second in the South-West Division.

In fact, courtesy of a loss to Geelong-Korea in round three which leaves them with an inferior divisional record they would finish third if the playoffs started today.

Melbourne's pitching has shown some cracks in recent weeks, and so far in December holds a 4.54 ERA.

Combined with an offence hitting .218 in the final month of the year and averaging 2.2 runs per game across its past 12, it's not a great equation.

The Aces must capitalise on their series with Geelong-Korea in round seven.

 

4. Perth needs to watch its back

The Heat were red-hot through the opening half of the season but suddenly on the back of a sweep at the hands of Sydney lead the South-West Division by just a win.

Adelaide and Melbourne are both on Perth's tail.

And with the Heat matching up with the Bite this weekend, and the Aces travelling to Geelong for a four-game set with 4-20 GK, there is a chance Perth could finish 2018 in third spot.

Perth matched the Sox for much of their series on the weekend, despite the lopsided scoreline, but failed to deliver in the clutch moments like we have become accustomed to.

 

5. Don't sleep on the Bandits

Mitch Nilsson, Logan Wade, Wade Dutton, Loek van Mil and Ryan Searle.

Yep, that's a list of the names Brisbane were without in Melbourne as they claimed a bounceback series win over the Aces.

It was a far from pretty 3-1 series victory, but an important one for the Bandits.

They stayed a game-and-a-half ahead of Canberra in the race for second spot in the North-East Division.

Brisbane's ability to stay in the thick of the playoff race without key talent, and others down on form, makes them a huge threat come the business end of the season.

Next up for the Bandits is a giant test against Sydney, starting in Blacktown on Thursday night.

 

6. The Tuatara will be left to rue lost chances

Sure, it could be said of every team that if they didn't blow a lead here or there they'd have an extra few wins.

But Auckland, maybe more than anyone else in the ABL, has dropped games that will cost them down the stretch.

Game two in Perth on Opening Weekend, game three against Brisbane in round two, combined with a doubleheader loss to Geelong-Korea will be ones the Tuatara look back on as missed opportunities.

Game one of Saturday's doubleheader against Adelaide in Mount Gambier is another.

Auckland lost 11-7 in the end despite having several leads.

They went 5-for-16 with runners in scoring position but could not pick up a vital win.

 

7. Craig Massey loves The Fort

In eight games at Narrabundah, Canberra infielder Craig Massey has been dominant.

He is 15-for-29 (.517) at the Cavs' home, with a team-high nine RBI.

Massey has two doubles, a triple and five walks.

He went 6-for-13 with five RBI against Geelong-Korea over the weekend.

 

8. GK are going to set an unwanted record

Adelaide's 11 wins last season set a new ABL low, eclipsing the 12 wins Canberra recorded in the first season of the relaunched league.

Geelong-Korea are going to have to win seven of 16 to avoid a worse season than the Bite put together 12 months ago.

It is a task beyond them.

GK sunk to a third series sweep in Canberra, though were a touch unlucky with game two ended early due to rain.

Geelong-Korea's inability to play a full nine innings hurt it again yesterday, with the Cavs piling on five runs in the fifth to record a come-from-behind win.

 

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