MELBOURNE finally ended its road series hoodoo and did it in style with a sweep over Claxton Shield holders Brisbane.
Canberra continued to show off its powerful offence in a series win over Adelaide and Sydney topped Perth to leave the Heat stranded to the bottom of the ABL standings.
Here are six things we learned from round three of the ABL season:
1. In their 40th attempt the Melbourne Aces finally recorded a series victory on the road. The Aces swept defending champions Brisbane in a rain hit series that did not include a nine-inning game. After a crushing 8-0 win in the opening game, led by a complete game from starter Mark Hamburger, Melbourne won a couple of games it would have lost in the past. The Aces scored six runs in the fifth of an originally scheduled seven-inning game two to overturn a 3-1 deficit, and scored five runs in the top of the last inning of game three on Sunday to go ahead. The ability to grind out wins and a strong starting rotation makes Melbourne a genuine threat this season.
2. The Sydney Blue Sox starting rotation should be one of the most feared in the league. Albeit against a Perth side with modest offensive production this season, the Blue Sox raced to a 3-0 series lead on the back of three quality starts. Trevor Boss recorded his first win, Craig Anderson improved to 3-0 and Luke Wilkins allowed one run in seven innings but again failed to receive run support. Wilkins (1-1) leads the league with an ERA of 0.92 but the Blue Sox have scored just four runs in his three starts.
3. Ignoring the obvious (Ryan Searle’s absence was felt in the bullpen), the Brisbane Bandits struggled offensively big time on the weekend. Despite having a couple of late leads, the Bandits were outscored 28-11 and hit just .217 as they were swept at home for the first time since November 2013. Brisbane lacked chances to score with only three walks and an on-base percentage of .250. The Bandits struggled to combat Melbourne’s starters and face a test to break their cold slump away to Sydney this weekend. Following the Blue Sox series, Brisbane are on the road (where they were .500 last season) again with a four-game series against Adelaide.
— ABL Stats ⚾️ (@ABLstats) December 5, 2016
4. Can the Canberra Cavalry offence be stopped in a shootout? The Cavs gave up four leads at home to Adelaide over the weekend but were still able to win the series 3-1. A couple of three-run deficits were no problem for Canberra. The Cavs had a few big innings, including a five and seven-run burst, to get over the Bite. Canberra outscored Adelaide 32-19 in the first three games before they were eventually stifled by 16-year-old Jack O’Loughlin in game four. The Cavs average 10.4 runs in wins this season and 1.8 runs in five losses.
5. Much of the focus heading into the weekend was on Canberra’s offence and its red hot start to the season. But the Adelaide Bite showed they have some bats of their own. With Stefan Welch and Angus Roeger missing the series against Canberra, a couple of names stood up and put the Bite in a position to go almost toe-to-toe with the Cavs early on in a few high-scoring shootouts. Karl Hoschke and A.C. Carter hit their first ABL home runs and Marcus Green Jr hit two for the weekend and Adelaide’s offence batted .281.
6. The Perth Heat put in an improved display against Sydney with its starting rotation finding form at Blacktown. But one win from four left the Heat languishing at the bottom of the standings and four games back from the ladder-leading Aces. Perth (4-8) host Adelaide (5-7) in a crunch series this weekend as the season heads towards its midway point. Another series loss for the Heat would make it tough to recover in a shorter 40-game season.
What did you learn from week three of the ABL season?