MELBOURNE proved too strong for Canberra again while Adelaide picked up a crucial series win over Adelaide.
Brisbane took two of three against Sydney but lost game four through rain with its fate to be decided by the ABL.
Will it be needed, or is the top three set?
Here are six things we learned from week eight of the ABL season:
1. LET’S MAKE A DATE: Brisbane will be hoping Sunday’s rained out contest against Sydney needs to be rescheduled. If it doesn’t, it means the Bandits are out of playoff contention and will not defend their crown. Brisbane took two of three against Sydney to sit 1.5 games back from Adelaide in the run home. The Bandits host Perth this weekend before a trip to Canberra while the Bite are on the road to ladder-leading Melbourne before finishing up against Sydney at Adelaide Shores. It’s going to be a tight run home.
2. CAVS STILL SHORT: Home-ground advantage failed to improve Canberra’s fortunes against first-placed Melbourne. The Cavs took one of four and were outscored 30-20 on their home deck in the top-of-the-table clash. They scored 15 more runs than last series against the Aces but took the same amount of games and the gulf between the two is as big as ever. If they meet again in the postseason – which would be at Melbourne Ballpark again – it would be hard to back Canberra pulling off victory.
3. THE NEW WAVE: Adelaide’s young pitching talent – mainly Jack O’Loughlin – has been the talk in baseball circles this season. But on the weekend the offensive future of the Bite was on show. Jordan McArdle, 18, was sensational in Adelaide’s 3-1 series win over Perth. McArdle went 7-for-11 and drove in four runs. He hit his second career ABL home run and lifted his batting average to .360 in 19 outings this season.
4. BYE, BYE JEREMY: Major League Baseball arm Jeremy Guthrie’s time with the Melbourne Aces came to an end over the weekend. After a shaky start to his time in Australia Guthrie finished on a high note by recording his first win. The right-hander recorded a win-loss of 1-1 and an ERA of 3.38 in three outings. He tossed 16 innings, striking out nine hitters and walking two. He also helped boost crowd numbers.
5. BIG INNINGS PROVING COSTLY: Sydney leaked five or more runs in an inning in each of its three games against Brisbane. While they struck back late in game two to win 10-9 on Friday night, it otherwise continued a trend of big innings proving costly for the Blue Sox. Sydney have five or more runs in an inning on six occasions this season – most in the league. They have lost all of those games except for last Friday night.
6. CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR: With its playoff hopes slim Perth put up a good fight against Adelaide but fell 3-1 on the road. The Heat were outscored 14-10 despite winning just one game and outhit the Bite 29-26. Early runs again proved costly as Perth slipped further back from the top three sides.
What did you learn from week eight of the ABL season? Comment below …
Follow David Penrose on Twitter at @David_Penrose