ADELAIDE, Canberra and Perth opened their home slates and for the Bite that meant a new ballpark at Adelaide Shores.
There was extra-innings, walk-offs, record scores, ballpark firsts and at the end of it a very tight ABL standings.
Here are six things we learned from week two of the ABL season:
1. Traditionalists may prefer low-scoring contests, but Canberra and Sydney put on a show for fans at Wollongong. The Wollongong Classic also showed how potent the Canberra Cavalry offence is. The Cavs mashed Sydney 21-11 in difficult conditions at Wollongong as the ABL record for total runs in a game was toppled. Canberra, shutout in game two of the series on Friday night, recorded 23 hits in Wollongong and lead the league for scoring with 48 runs after eight games. The Cavalry led the league with 320 runs last season and have come a long way from the inaugural season of the new ABL when they managed just 131 runs (from 36 games).
2. Adelaide Bite manager Steve Mintz is not afraid to throw his young players in the deep end and so far it is working. Notoriously slow starters, the Bite moved to .500 after accounting for the Melbourne Aces in the first series at Adelaide Shores. While Adelaide’s youngsters may not have been match-winners, they played more than bit parts across the four games. Jack O’Loughlin, 16, showed the ability that saw him signed by the Detroit Tigers in his start on Saturday. The left-hander allowed two runs on four hits while striking out one in a no decision. Another 16-year-old, Ky Hampton, came into Sunday’s game with a runner on and worked 1.2 scoreless innings. Chris Horne, 20, also threw two scoreless innings in the 10-3 win.
3. The Perth Heat must stop the early bleed. The Heat have been outscored 33-7 in innings 1-3 across the first two rounds, including 16-5 by Brisbane at home on the weekend. Perth’s offence is performing modestly and ranked fourth in the league with an average of 3.9 runs per game. The early deficits are putting it under far too much pressure. If the Heat’s winless starting rotation can not reel in the early damage being done it is hard to argue a case for Perth returning to the playoffs.
4. The hype from the Melbourne Aces’ opening weekend series win over Perth is truly gone after another disappointing road trip. The Aces won the opening game against Adelaide – for just the 10th time in 39 series on the road – and were two outs away from building a 2-0 advantage. But the Bite rallied and Melbourne seemed to lose confidence from there as Adelaide won the series 3-1. The Aces managed just seven runs – equalling their lowest total in a series. They hit .188 for the series with a couple of big names misfiring in the early days of the season. Melbourne will not have to wait long for another crack at that elusive away series win. They travel to champions Brisbane this weekend.
5. Ryan Searle is human. The right-handed reliever looked unusually shaky in the Brisbane Bandits‘ 2-1 loss to Perth on Friday night. The 27-year-old walked Sam Kennelly, tossed a wild pitch and then hit Jake Bowey with one before the Heat walked-off on Tim Kennelly’s single to centre field. Searle’s ERA ‘ballooned’ to 2.08 following the outing. It was a shock outing from a pitcher who has restricted opposition hitters to a .111 batting average and has three saves to his name in the early part of the season. Searle also ranks third in the league with 12 strikeouts.
6. It was a tough weekend for the Sydney Blue Sox but they still sit in the mix of teams at .500 ahead of an eight-game homestand. The Blue Sox host Perth and then Brisbane in the next two rounds. They will need to improve their pitching after allowing a league-high 78 hits through the opening two rounds. On the weekend against the Cavalry the hits piled up and eventually proved costly. Starters Trevor Foss and Aaron Sookee both had rough outings and will look to bounce back and help out Craig Anderson and Luke Wilkins who have been impressive.
What did you learn from week two of the ABL season?