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Perth @ Melbourne preview
South-West division leaders go head-to-head
01/02/2019 5:49 PM ET
 

After a successful final series of 2018, Perth have an opportunity to extend their lead in the South-West Division with a four-game set against Melbourne in round eight of the Brut Australian Baseball League.

The Heat got on top of Adelaide in round seven, taking the first three games en route to a series win, while Melbourne took down divisional rivals Geelong-Korea to leapfrog the Bite into a guaranteed playoff spot.

Two in-form teams, playoff spots on the line and some key new additions make this one of the biggest series of the weekend.

Round four saw Melbourne and Perth split their four-game set, with the Heat claiming wins in games one and four.

After a whirlwind 12 months, Josh Tols makes his ABL season debut for Melbourne in round eight. Tols, who boasts a career ERA of 2.80 in 69 regular season games, was picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies and finished the year in AAA-Lehigh Valley.

In his first year of affiliated baseball, the lefty recorded a 2.74ERA and will be a welcome addition to the Aces pitching staff.

Scott Shuman will take the ball in game one for Melbourne, and has built a solid base in his first three outings. Shuman has been stretched out in each of his first three appearances, culminating in four scoreless innings against Geelong-Korea in round seven.

Perth will counter Shuman in game one with their own veteran, California native John Anderson. Like Shuman, Anderson has been eased into his work this season, only surrendering two earned runs in his 10 1/3 innings thus far.

The Heat will need to cover the losses of Rays flamethrowers Cristopher Sanchez and Joel Peguero who return to the US, as well as Chris Betts, who nailed three homers and batted .310 in 22 games.

The addition of Brooks Hall, a former AAA arm with Arizona and Milwaukee will add depth and experience to an already impressive bullpen.   

 

Ones to watch

Tristan Gray and Darryl George have been constant figures in their respective infields, and both are getting hot at the right time of the season.

Gray blasted three homers and drive in six last weekend against the Bite, while George has 15 hits in his past seven games.

 

DYK?

In the first game of the reborn ABL between the Aces and Heat, former MLBer and Aces legend Justin Huber hit a grand slam in the first inning.

Despite that slam, Perth defeated Melbourne 13-9 on January 14, 2011.

 

Probable starters

G1: John Anderson (1-0, 1.74 ERA) at Scott Shuman (0-0, 0.00)

G2: Conor Lourey (4-3, 3.06) at Luke Westphal (1-3, 3.29)

G3: Nick Veale (4-1, 5.20) at Dushan Ruzic (4-0, 1.78)

G4: Ryan Flores (2-4, 4.61) at TBA

 

Series schedule

G1: Friday, 7.05pm AEDT at Melbourne Ballpark, Altona, VIC

G2: Saturday, 5.00pm AEDT at Melbourne Ballpark, Altona, VIC

G3: Saturday, 7.30pm AEDT at Melbourne Ballpark, Altona, VIC

G4: Sunday, 2.00pm AEDT at Melbourne Ballpark, Altona, VIC

 

Broadcast guide

Check out the full round eight broadcast guide here!

 

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