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ABLSF preview: Cavalry @ Bandits
Cavs book ABLCS rematch after wildcard win
01/23/2019 7:20 PM ET
 

Two teams with an ever-growing rivalry will battle for a spot in the ABL Championship Series this weekend, as Brisbane welcome wildcard winners Canberra to town for a highly-anticipated best-of-three series.

The Cavalry earned the right to face the Bandits in the ABL Semi Final after a shutout victory against Melbourne in the ABL's inaugural wildcard game last night.

Brisbane's road to the #1 seed has been dramatic, as they won their last six ballgames, which included an unforgettable regular season climax on Sunday.

A win against Geelong-Korea would sew up the #1 seed, but with bases loaded and no outs to deal with, the Bandits needed a hero.

TJ Bennett delivered, turning an near-impossible 5-3 triple play and somehow maintaining a 3-3 tie. Mere minutes after, Logan Wade delivered with a solo shot, and Brisbane held on to sew up a home semi final.

The Bandits have recalled Mitch Ellis and Dan Nilsson for this weekend's semi, while Lin Ko-chien and Jay Myers miss out.

Canberra split their round ten matchup against Perth, and overcame Melbourne in last night's wildcard game behind seven stellar innings from Frank Gailey.

The lefty fanned five in seven masterful innings, allowing only two hits. Cavalry manager Keith Ward has some tough decisions ahead, as Gailey threw 114 pitches.

Gailey is in vintage form, with his last 14 innings yielding no earned runs, but how soon will Ward turn to Gailey if the going gets tough in Brisbane? 

 

When they last met

In one of the most intriguing series of season 2018/19, Canberra claimed to a 2-0 series lead, but Brisbane stormed home to record a crucial series split.

Tim Atherton recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts for Brisbane, while leadoff man Riley Unroe nailed three homers and picked up six RBI.

The Bandits only mustered one run in game two of that series, the lowest single-game total they've been restricted to at home all season.

Kyle Kinman (who shapes as a key figure this weekend) allowed one run in 4 2/3 innings. Should Kinman replicate that performance (likely in a starting role), the Cavalry have a real chance to upset the defending champs.

 

Playoff history

Last year's ABL Championship Series marks the lone time Canberra and Brisbane have matched up in playoff baseball.

Canberra claimed game one behind a vintage Brian Grening, but the Bandits stormed home to lift the Claxton Shield for the third time in as many years.

Brisbane's game two starter Tim Atherton was named ABLCS MVP after a masterpiece in a win-or-go-home battle.

 

Probable starters

Game 1: TBA @ Ryan Bollinger (2-3, 3.67 ERA)

Game 2: TBA @ Tim Atherton (7-0, 2.87)

Game 3 TBA @ Travis Blackley (2-2, 3.00)

 

Series information

Game 1: Friday, 6pm AEST at OneHub Stadium powered by Optus, Newmarket, QLD

Game 2: Saturday, 6pm AEST at OneHub Stadium powered by Optus, Newmarket, QLD

Game 3 (if required): Sunday, 12.30pm AEST at OneHub Stadium powered by Optus, Newmarket, QLD

 

Broadcast guide

Watch every playoff game LIVE and FREE on ABLtv.com!

 

theabl.com.au prediction

Brisbane 2-1. The Cavs will take the opener behind Steve Kent, but as the series drags on the Bandits bullpen will reign supreme. Couple Ryan Searle's resurgence last weekend with a fit Loek van Mil and Brisbane are cherry ripe to make a run at their fourth consecutive crown.

Bollinger, Atherton and Blackley are three of the best arms in the league and have plenty of experience in the bank, while offensively, keep an eye on Donald Lutz.

Lutz hit .186 during the regular season, but we promise the big man is good for at least one big moment in this series.

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