FREE baseball, walk-offs, a grand slam, complete game and a series sweep – the second round of the sixth ABL season had it all.
And while Canberra Cavalry moved to outright first after eight games the Brisbane Bandits are hot, riding a five-game winning streak to record its first ever four-game sweep.
The Sydney Blue Sox home woes continued against the Perth Heat and Adelaide slumped to 1-7 on the new season.
Here are six things we learned from round two of the ABL season.
1. The Brisbane Bandits could just have its strongest roster in six years of the relaunched ABL. After starting 0-3 the Bandits have reeled off five-straight wins to sit second on the standings behind Canberra. And without Logan Wade, Alan Schoenberger and Tyler Stanton, Brisbane showed they have depth against Adelaide. Jason Jarvis slotted nicely into the starting rotation, in place of Stanton, and the Bandits’ bullpen held up well despite some lengthy outings. Offensively, Justin Williams and Maxx Tissenbaum came up with some big plays in crucial moments. The sweep against Adelaide was Brisbane’s first since January 2013.
2. No Adelaide Bite lead is safe. The Bite’s bullpen has had a tough time of it this season. Adelaide blew leads in game one and two against the Bandits before losing in extra-innings and a four-run seventh guided Brisbane home on Saturday night. Bite relievers have combined for an ERA of 5.25 through eight games compared to 3.74 by its starters.
3. Canberra Cavalry starter Brian Grening is an ace. The right-hander pitched a complete game shutout against the Melbourne Aces on Friday night. It was the 19th complete game shutout in the ABL, and 10th in a nine-inning contest. Grening, 30, went nine innings, allowing five hits and a walk while striking out four Aces. His early-season ERA sits at 0.59 after winning his first two starts. Grening is in his fifth year in the league.
4. The Sydney Blue Sox struggle against Perth at Blacktown. They have never beaten the Heat in a series at their home and have an overall 6-18 record in regular season games between the sides at Blue Sox Stadium. Throw in five post-season games at the venue, all won by Perth, and you can see the struggle is real. Why? We don’t quite know.
5. Perth Heat outfielder Matt Kennelly is clutch. After hitting a walk-off home run against Adelaide on Opening Weekend the 26-year-old’s two-run double in the 11th against Sydney helped secure Perth a series split on Sunday. Kennelly drove in four of the Heat’s five runs for the game and across the series went 5-for-14 (.357).
6. The Melbourne Aces came out of an eight-game home-stand below .500. Unless the Aces can overcome an inability to win a series on the road they need to do more at home and make Melbourne Ballpark a genuine fortress. Against the Cavs they only took game four as they avoided a sweep. Melbourne head to Adelaide next round for a bottom-of-the-table clash which could yet prove to be the best chance of ending the road hoodoo. That said, the Aces are 4-16 at Norwood Oval in regular season clashes and 0-2 in the post-season.