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SABL Finals 2018: Round 1 Preview
03/04/2018 10:07 PM ET
The 2017/18 South Australian Div. 1 Baseball Season drew to a close on the weekend and we're down to our final six teams.
Over the next three weekends these teams will battle it out in one of the most exciting times of the baseball calendar.
There are three series this weekend and the three winners will advance to preliminary finals on March 17/18. The highest seeded losing team will also advance.
Each series is best-of-three. The expected game times are as follows:

Game 1: Saturday 10 March 3:00PM
Game 2: Sunday 11 March 11:00AM
Game 3: Sunday 11 March 2:00PM
To get you set up for the finals we examined each series below.
#1 WEST TORRENS EAGLES vs. #6 GLENELG TIGERS 
All games at Lockleys Oval, Lockleys. 
Regular season records
West Torrens: 25-9-2, 52 points
Glenelg Tigers: 21-15, 42 points
Head-to-Head:
Feb 27: West Torrens 12, Glenelg 3
Nov 15: West Torrens 3, Glenelg 2
Nov 5: Glenelg 7, West Torrens 5
The Eagles followed up their 2017 Championship by winning the minor premiership in the 2017/18 season. This has guaranteed them a double chance and even if they drop this series they will be playing next weekend in the preliminary final.
Glenelg may be the dark horse in these finals especially with the return of import pitcher Chris Burkholder. The Eagles will be looking to send the 2016/17 premiership Tigers to an early playoff exit.
Glenelg shot out to a 9-2 start and looked like the team to beat this season. But since then they have played to below .500 baseball and settled with a 12-13 record in their last 25. 
However, Glenelg on their day are one of the toughest teams to beat. The Tigers will likely roll with a duo of Bite pitchers - Matt Williams and Tim Day - as their two starters. If they hold a lead they'll turn it over to Burkholder to lock it down. They also have pitchers Hayden McGearey and Connor Hill at their disposal. 
The offense runs through Max Brown who could be a sneaky Capps Medal pick. The Bite outfielder hit .370 with 8HR and 25RBI to lead the Tigers. Mason Clavell and Connor Hill also turned in strong seasons for the yellow and black. 
West Torrens have been consistent all season and have one of the most dangerous line ups. Import Terrell Joyce, who played for Glenelg last year, paced the team with a .375 average and 10 home runs. The hitting leader was none other than 17-year-old Bite rookie Curtis Mead who hit an incredible .380. Mix in young guns like Griffin Weber and Sam McGarry with players like Dan Turner, Tom Fiebig and 2017 Championship hero Ryan "Titatic" Muggleton and this line up is tough to beat.
They'll likely turn to Nathan Vanderlinden, James Snelgrove and import Kenny McDowell to start games with super reliever Joel Chapman ready to come out of the bullpen in a moment's notice. 
#2 PORT ADELAIDE MAGPIES vs. #5 WOODVILLE SENATORS
All games at War Memorial Reserve, Semaphore 
Regular season records
Port Adelaide: 24-11-1, 49 points
Woodville: 22-14, 44 points
 
Head-to-Head:
January 23: Port Adelaide 2 - Woodville 0 
Dec 5: Woodville 3, Port Adelaide 2
Nov 19: Port Adelaide 7, Woodville 2
Woodville are back in the finals after a year outside the Top 6. It is likely no coincidence this aligns the return of Wilson Lee. A Bite regular in the last decade hit .340 with 7 home runs and 28 RBIs. 
The scary thing is Wilson's stellar season is not even close to the best on perhaps the most potent offense in the local competition. Thomas De Wolf hit .362 with 20 home runs and 46 RBI. Gary Owens hit .376 with 13HR and 36RBI. 
After that, the offense features a ridiculously talented side with the likes of Nick Kuhn (.382), Eric Brenk (.364) and Matt Austin (.300). That's six batters with a .300 average or better.
The question will be is if the pitching can back up the offense. Wilson Lee had a 10-3 record but the pitching depth isn't stellar after that.
Meanwhile, Port Adelaide will look to go one step further after losing the SABL Championship Series in heart breaking fashion last year. They'll be without Jack O'Loughlin who is off to Detroit Tigers' spring training. 
They still have Dylan Brammer who is the reigning Capps Medalist and put up another amazing season. Brammer was 8-2 with a 1.30ERA on the mound and hit .336 with the bat. 
Tyson McKee, who pitched a gem to win the U18 National Championship Grand Final, pitched a fantastic season but recently became injured. They'll likely look to former Team Australia Pitcher Dusan Ruzik and reliable veteran Adam Crabb to round out the rotation. 
Alex "AC" Carter will need a big series to back up a season where he batted .316.
#3 KENSINGTON CARDINALS vs. #4 GOODWOOD INDIANS
All games at Newland's Reserve, Erindale
Regular season records
Kensington: 24-11-1, 49 points
Goodwood: 24-12, 48 points 
Head-to-Head:
Feb 13: Goodwood 3, Kensington 1
Jan 21: Goodwood 3, Kensington 2
Dec 19: Kensington 7, Goodwood 2
Just a single point separates two veteran sides looking to return to SABL glory.
Kensington will be delighted to play the series at their hitting friendly ballpark. Austin Gallagher had another spectacular season bashing 18 home runs, driving in 42 runs and hitting .366. Evan LeBlanc hit .348 in his debut season with the Cardinals while regulars Nick Talbot, Angus Bills and Leigh Chenoweth all turned in solid seasons with the bat.
A big strength of Kensington is their pitching. They have a three-headed monster of Greg Mosel, who just pitched for Team Australia in Japan, Mike Tamburino and Jake Muscat. They're tough to beat on both sides of the ball.
Goodwood will rely on what was the cornerstone of the Adelaide Bite offense for years. Stefan Welch (.319), Jeremy Cresswell (.400) and Josh Cakebread (.370) all turned in fantastic seasons and will anchor both the defense and the offense.
Giants and Bite legend Darren Fidge threw over 100 innings this season with a tidy 2.69 ERA to lead the pitching staff.
Baseball legends will certainly be on display in this blockbuster matchup.


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