BRISBANE will look to extend its lead at the top of the ABL standings when it takes on road strugglers Melbourne starting tonight.
The Bandits split their four-game away series with Perth to enter round three game clear on top.
They will take on a Melbourne outfit that was two outs away from a 2-0 series lead on the road to Adelaide last Saturday before losing and dropping the four-game set 3-1.
It left the Aces without a series win on the road, seven years into the ABL.
Melbourne scored just seven runs against the Bite and face an uphill battle to take down Brisbane at home.
The Bandits have lost just six of their past 35 games at Holloway Field.
The key to the Aces springing an upset will be getting on base.
Melbourne has is ranked last for on-base percentage (.305) and has the fewest walks (24), but has been able to cause damage with runners on and leads the league with 15 stolen bases.
Brisbane will be without league save leader Ryan Searle and hitter Andrew Campbell.
The Aces have added Jeremy Young and Luke Abels to their bullpen with Josh Davies and Andrew Jones out of the side.
Game 1: Friday, 6.30pm AEST
Game 2: Saturday, 3.30pm AEST
Game 3: Saturday, 6.30pm AEST
Game 4: Sunday, 2.00pm AEST
TV: Check out the ABLtv.com schedule
Expected starters :
Friday: RHP Mark Hamburger (1-0, 1.80) at LHP Rick Teasley (1-0, 3.86)
Saturday, G1: RHP Keisuke Honda (1-0, 0.73) at RHP Kramer Champlin (0-1, 5.91)
Saturday, G2: RHP Dushan Ruzic (0-1, 2.45) at RHP Justin Erasmus (0-0, 4.00)
Sunday: LHP Jon Kennedy (0-1, 9.95) at RHP Daniel Nilsson (0-0, 2.00)
Players to watch:
Aces – Dushan Ruzic has not taken long to settle in on his return to the ABL. The former Adelaide pitcher leads the league with 13 strikeouts – alongside Perth’s Tom Bailey and Bite reliever Matthew Williams – after two rounds. The right-hander went six innings in a loss to Adelaide last weekend, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking three hitters. Ruzic is slated to start on Saturday night.
Bandits – Aaron Whitefield became the leadoff man for Brisbane in its series against Perth last weekend and flourished in the role. The 20-year-old went 9-for-18 across the series and scored seven runs. Whitefield’s season batting average of .433 places him behind only Canberra’s Kyle and Robbie Perkins.
What you need to know:
- Melbourne is 12-27 (.308) in game one of series on the road.
- Brisbane is 11-5 against the Aces at Holloway Field.
- Melbourne leads the league with 15 stolen bases while the Bandits are last with six stolen bags.
The Bandits are a hard team to tame anywhere at the moment but in Brisbane they are an even tougher proposition. Melbourne’s offence struggled last week after putting up early runs against the Perth Heat on opening weekend. Against a Brisbane pitching staff with the third lowest ERA in the league they could struggle again.
Follow David Penrose on Twitter at @David_Penrose