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Barnes, Maestri are top performers of Rd. Eight01/02/2012 2:27 PM ET
By Ross Romano
Sydney outfielder Brandon Barnes and Brisbane right-hander Alex Maestri have earned Round Eight Player of the Week honours. In a weekend filled with offence, Barnes stood out from the pack by accumulating 15 RBI in the five games against Melbourne. Amid the offensive explosion, Maestri tossed the league's third complete game of the season, allowing no earned runs in a win over Canberra. A Houston Astros prospect that just joined Sydney a few weeks ago, Barnes has immediately and undeniably made his impact felt in the Blue Sox line-up. He has batted .345 and driven in 20 runs in his first 14 games, helping his team to an 11-3 record since his arrival that has rocketed them up to second place in the standings. In 16 games prior to his arrival, the Blue Sox were averaging 3.4 runs per game, but that number has jumped to an average of 6.4 with Barnes in the batting order, demonstrating how impactful he has been. This series, he put on a display that Sydney fans will not soon forget. In Thursday's series opener, he made sure the Blue Sox would continue their winning streak by taking matters into his own hands. Trailing by three in the seventh, Barnes came to the plate against Melbourne's Nic Ungs and powered a home run over the left field wall, scoring teammate David Kandilas and cutting the deficit to one. Then, in the ninth, with Sydney still down by one, Barnes brought home Kandilas and Mitch Dening with his second home run of the game, giving his team a 9-7 win. Barnes added home runs on Friday and Sunday, also connecting for a pair of doubles in the series. In five games against the Aces, he batted .375 (9-for-24) with four home runs, seven runs scored, and 15 RBI. Honourable mentions for the batting award included Perth's Tim Kennelly and Mychal Givens, as well as Melbourne's Brad Harman and Paul Weichard. Maestri, a native of Italy, has been excellent for the Bandits all season, but stepped his performance up to a new level in Thursday's start against the Cavalry. With his co-ace Yohei Yanagawa departed for Japan, the righty took matters into his own hands and made sure Brisbane would start the series with a win. He went the full nine innings for the victory, the third complete game in the ABL this season. Canberra scored only one run in the game, which was unearned, and managed just two hits, as Maestri struck out four. Between Kody Hightower's double leading off the third inning and Travis Scott's RBI double with two outs in the ninth, Maestri faced 24 batters without allowing a base knock. The win was his first since 11 November, helping Brisbane keep pace with Canberra and Melbourne in the competition for the final playoff spot. For the season, Maestri is tied for second in the ABL with 44.2 innings pitched and ranks third with 40 strikeouts. He has a 2.82 ERA and has allowed opponents to bat just .200 against him. He will be relied upon heavily to get wins for the Bandits each time he takes the mound down the stretch as they hope to achieve their first playoff appearance. Runners up for the pitching award were Maestri's teammate Justin Staatz, Adelaide's Reed Brown, Perth's Cameron Lamb, and Kellen Kmiecik of the Cavalry. In Round Nine, Barnes and the Blue Sox will be in Canberra to face the "UberGlobal" Cavalry, while Maestri and the Bandits will travel cross-country for a series with the 'Alcohol Think Again' Perth Heat. In the other series, the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces will host the Adelaide Bite. Fans can follow games through individual team streaming and radio partners. The ABL also offers the popular Gameday technology, which tracks live pitch-by-pitch action at www.theabl.com.au.