Sunday, 18 December 2011

ABL Week 7 - vs Canberra Cavalry

So after having the week off for week 6 of the season we were ready to rip in the the Canberra Cavalry. We added David Kandilas to the roster as well as Major League pitcher Brad Thomas.

Game 1
We won this game 1-0 and as the score suggests, it was a real pitchers duel. The only run that was scored in the game came in the 1st inning thanks to a Tyler Collins single which scored Mitch Dening from 3rd base. Craig Anderson, Matt Williams and Dae-Sung Koo combined to keep the Cavalry bats quiet all night with only 1 runner getting to 3rd base the entire game. Like in most 1-0 ball games, not much happened.

Game 2
We won this game 3-2 on a walk-off walk in the bottom of the 11th inning. We were down 2-0 heading into the 9th before we started a little rally and eventually tied it up when we were down to our last out. Mitch Dening hit a line drive single to left field to score the run from 3rd to send us into extra innings. Things became a little interesting in the bottom of the 9th though. As Tyler Collins grounded out to end the 9th words were shared between him and the Cavalry pitcher and then all of a sudden the benches had cleared. Once all that died down no team managed to get much going until we mounted another rally in the 11th. With loaded bases, the man that was in the middle of the benches clearing drove in the winning run, on a walk-off walk. Funny thing was, that he forgot that he had to go touch first base. He was ready to celebrate with the team, but we were all yelling at him to run up the line. So it was an entertaining night and we ended up on the right end of the scoreboard.

Game 3
We ran out 7-0 winners in game 3 of the series. It was a great all round team performance led by the dominant pitching by starter Aiden Francis who went 6 2/3 innings giving up 0 runs on 3 hits. Everyone that came up to bat got on base with Joey Hage going 3 for 4. It was a good game of baseball as we executed in the box with runners on base as well as playing really good defence.
With most games theres always something funny that stands out. In this case it came in the 4th inning when Jacob Younis lined a ball into centerfield when Pat Maat was on 2nd base. As Pat was rounding 3rd base and heading home the catcher had already received the ball when pat was about 10 feet away from the plate. Like most plays at home that are close the runner will most likely try and take out the catcher. Since Pat Maat is a big boy, he decided he would try and take out the catcher to dislodge the ball, but instead, the catcher got out of the way and gave Pat a clear path to home plate. You got to love baseball, see something new everyday.

Game 4
We completed the sweep with a resounding 11-0 victory. Once again we had great starting pitcher as Vaughan Harris continued his good form the throwing 7 shutout innings. Brandon Barnes and Boss Moanaroa each got 3 hits a piece with Boss adding the final blow to the Cavalry in the 8th inning with a 3 run home run. The 3-6 hitters in our lineup went a combined 9 for 19, scored 7 runs and 8 runs batted in. I threw the 9th inning in this game. The first runner got on base via an error, and then I retired the next 3 hitters to end the game. If you have been following my blog all year you will have noticed I am extremely superstitious. I usually wear my socks up when I pitch, but when I pitch at Blue Sox Stadium I had an era above 16.00. So I thought I needed to change it up a bit and I wore my pants down for this series. Guess from now on I will wear my pants down at home games.

Vaughan Harris     -        Boss Moanaroa greeted at home after his home run

So after a very succesful last few weeks that has seen us win 8 of our last 9 games and move up the standings from 6th to 3rd we get to take a little break over Christmas before we head down to Melbourne for New Years. If we sweep Melbourne down there, it would give us 12 wins in a row and break Perth's record that they set at the start of the season. You never know, it could happen.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Quote of the Day

The quote of the day is more like a small conversation. Luke Wilkins and me were talking about pitchers and their fastballs. We then spoke about Brendan Wise who signed with the Minnesota Twins this offseason and I told Luke that Brendan had a really heavy fastball. I knew Chris Oxspring threw with Brendan everyday while we were away in Panama for the World Cup, so I told Luke to ask Chris what Brendans fastball was like. This is the conversation that took place.

Luke : "Hey Ox, what's Brendan Wise fastball like?"
Chris : "Imagine standing in front of a cannon, and having a cannonball shot at you, that's exactly what it feels like"

Quite a funny way of explaining a Brendan Wise fastball.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Photo of the Day

These photos come from the vault. As I was searching around the internet at I came across some great photos the night David Welch threw his no-hitter against the Adelaide Bite in the ABL playoffs in the inaugral season.

One of the greatest individual performances I have ever been lucky enough to witness and be apart of. We miss you here Welchy!

Big League Talent

In the old Australian Baseball League, over 100 of the players who played in it went on to play in the Major Leagues. When you think about it, that is a lot of players over a 10 year period who's careered blossomed from time spent in Australia. Already 2 players from last years ABL season went on to make their Major League debuts. Those 2 being Liam Hendriks and Shane Lindsay.

If you look at the rosters for all ABL teams from last year and this year, you will see that their is handful of players who have tasted the Major Leagues.

Sydney Blue Sox
Chris Oxspring - San Diego Padres
Dae-Sung Koo - New York Mets
Richard Thompson - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Trent Oeltjen - Arizona Diamondback, Los Angeles Dodgers
Brad Thomas - Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers

Adelaide Bite
Chin-Lung Hu - New York Mets

Melbourne Aces
Jason Hirsh - Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies
Brad Harman - Philadelphia Phillies
Justin Huber - Kansas City Royals, San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins
Shane Lindsay - Chicago White Sox

Perth Heat
Luke Hughes - Minnesota Twins
Liam Hendriks - Minnesota Twins

To go along with all the players who haved played in the Major Leagues, there are a lot of players on the cusp of getting the call up. The Perth Heat roster is littered with AA talent, and we just acquired Brandon Barnes who has spent time in AAA with the Astros and has earned an invite to big league spring training in 2012. Everyone should get familiar with some of these names in the ABL, you could see them playing in a Major League ballpark in the near future.

Trent Oeltjen, Brad Thomas, Rich Thompson, Chris Oxspring

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Blue Sox Videos

All you bloggers, tweeters and facebookers should subscribe to the Sydney Blue Sox YouTube page! and check out all the fun we have on game day here in the Australian Baseball League :)

Just click this link below! DO IT! I KNOW YOU WANT TO!

Video of the Day

Sunday, 4 December 2011

ABL Week 5 - vs Brisbane Bandits

This was the first our 5 game series for the year. Everytime we play a team for the second time it will be a 5 game series. Since it was a 5 game series we were able to expand the roster to 24 players. A few players were dropped from this week to make room for a familiar face in Mitch Dening and also two new imports from the United States. Brandon Barnes is from California and has played with the Houston Astros organization and Joey Hage is from Florida and has spent time with the St Louis Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays organizations. All 3 are very welcome faces to our team.

Game 1
They always say you see something new everyday when you play baseball and today was definitely no exception. For the first time in my career we had a "light out". One of the light towers at our field went out after the transformer blew. Sitting in the bullpen we could see the smoke coming from the tower. We went into a 20 minute delay before the game got suspended and we would have to come back the next day to complete. We were down 1-0 at that point after 2 innings.
We resumed play at 11:00am the next day and were ready to play 7 innings to complete the 9 inning game. That wasn't the case as we ended up playing a 15 inning game. We won the game 4-3 in the bottom of the 15th on a walk off single by Boss Moanaroa who scored new guy Joey Hage from 2nd base. Our new players Hage, Dening and Barnes did well for us going a combined 6 for 19. Todd Grattan threw 6 innings for 2 runs, and then Matt Williams and Matt Rae combined to throw 7 no hit innings with Matt Rae picking up the win.

After the game we had a lot of time to kill before the second game started at 7:30pm so Luke Wilkins and Aiden Francis came back to my house and we just watched the cricket all afternoon which was extremely relaxing.

Game 2
We lost this game 6-4. We were in control for most of the game and then Brisbane scored runs in the last 4 innings and we weren't able to reproduce the late inning heroics from game 1. I pitched the 9th inning in this game and my fastball location was pretty good but was unable to locate my breaking balls which really hurt me. I struck out the first hitter, and then the second hitter hit a ground ball just out of the reach from our 2nd basemen. The runner then stole 2nd and I got the 3rd hitter to ground out to 3rd. The runner then stole 3rd then I threw a wild pitch which allowed him to score. It was pretty frustrating that the runner scored because I couldn't execute pitches or control the running game. The 4th hitter flew out to right field on the next pitch.

The next two games of the series were a double header and because they were rescheduled games, each game would only be 7 innings instead of the usual 9 inning games.

Game 3
Thanks to some clutch hitting we won the game 5-3. The game was tied 3-3 going into the 6th inning before we put on 2 runs thanks to an RBI sacrifice bunt by Andrew Graham and then Boss Moanaroa drove in Jacob Younis from 2nd base to give us the 2 run lead. We sent out Dae-Sung Koo out there to save the game and in usual Koo fashion he shut the door to seal the win.

Game 4
Things are definitely starting to come around and we looked like the Sydney Blue Sox from last season again. We won 7-0 on an early offensive outburst and great pitching by Vaughan Harris who threw 6 shutout innings. Every position player that started got on base, and 7 of the 9 starters each got on base safely from base hits. We got on base early and often and were up 7-0 after 3 innings. It was all we needed as Harris cruised threw the lineup before handing the ball over to my Ryde-Eastwood team mate Luke Wilkins who threw a perfect 9th inning to complete the shutout.

On the day of our last game I woke up and it was shaping to be a beautiful day for baseball but that suddenly took a turn for the worst. Around 90 minutes before game time we had an extreme sudden downpour of rain that was accompanied by hail.

This hail downpour was enough to push the starting time of the game a little over 2 hours which meant we had a lot of downtime again. Like always, decks of cards were brought out and various card games were being played throughout the clubhouse. A few of us went into the function room and entertained some kids who were enjoying a birthday party at the ballpark.

The front office staff and the grounds crew were on the field trying to get all the water off but when we found out more rain was coming it was decided that they would try and pull the field infield tarp onto the field. This would be difficult for two reason. One was that we didn't have a large cylinder to roll the tarp out and the second reason was that we didn't have the man power to pull a 170 foot by 170 foot tarp on the field. So the call was made to the fans in the crowd if they could run out onto the field and help with the tarp. It turned out to be a success as they were able to fully cover the infield and stop it from getting even more wet. I don't think  you could go anywhere else in Australia and see fans out on the field helping to get the game underway. It just shows we have the best group of fans in the Australian Baseball League.

Front office staff working tirelessly to get the water off the infield. I bet they didn't sign on for this.
When the rain stopped we needed to get even more people out there to pull the tarp off. So about 40 fans came onto the field and helped taking it off. They were given instructions over the speaker phone by one of the grounds crew members on where to pull and how to fold it and then eventually roll it back up.

Game 5
After the 2 hour rain delay it was decided by officials that the game would be 7 innings in hope that Brisbane would be able to catch their flight home. The 7 innings plan failed as the game went into 10 innings and finished on a walk off single by new comer Brandon Barnes. Thanks to some great pitching we were able to stay in the game even though we hadn't got a hit until the bottom of the 7th inning thanks to a Boss Moanaroa single to right field. Trent Schmutter than ran for Boss and then he advanced to 2nd base on a sacrifice bunt and was driven in by a Mitch Dening single. We then went into extra innings and both teams were able to get runners on but couldn't capitalize and score a run. That was until the 10th inning thanks to a lead off single by Mitch Dening who stole 2nd and 3rd in the space of 5 pitches. That set up the heroics by Brandon Barnes who roped a walk off single to center field and then the celebrations begun. It wasn't easy to catch him but Brandon was able to dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge himself away from all of us and he made my look stupid as well by putting on one of the best right foot steps I have seen in a while.

Trying to chase down Barnesy
So the injection of new blood seemed to work straight away as our 3 new players all played major parts in some of our wins this weekend. Joey Hage scored the winning run in game 1, Mitch Dening drove in the tying run and was the winning run in game 5 and well, you already know all about Brandon Barnes contribution. We're a whole different ball club now and things are starting to turn around for us.

The New Blood - Joey Hage, Brandon Barnes and Mitch Dening

Monday, 28 November 2011

ABL Week 4 - vs Adelaide Bite

So after my poor performance last week against Perth I was quite excited to redeem myself on the trip to Adelaide. Just like the last road trip we went on, Tyler Collins and me had to catch the train to the airport and luckily this time there were no delays so we got to the airport with no worries. The only problem was that we had to catch a 5:49am train to make it to the airport before 7:00am. We checked in and went to our gate and then had to sit and wait because our flight was delayed. We were suppose to leave at 9:00am but didn't start boarding until 9:15. It wasn't a long delay but is a delay long enough to annoy everyone. Just like the last road trip I loaded my iPad up with some movies. I watched the movie Hook on the flight which is one of my all time favourites.

Once we landed in Adelaide we had to walk about 400 metres to get to our vans. You may not think it's a long walk, but when you have to carry a 30 kg bag of baseballs with you, as well as carrying your own luggage, the walk becomes quite a pain. We loaded the vans and headed off to the hotel and once we arrived I could see why some people were so excited to get there. The hotel in a prime location since it is right next to a Woolworths supermarket which meant it shouldn't be too hard to buy some dinner and there was also a few fast food places nearby. I bought some tortilla wraps, a roast chicken, some cheese, lettuce and some noodles. As you can tell by my shopping purchases I was planning on making a few chicken wraps, and then some noodles. After I made lunch we had to leave for the field to play our first game.

Game 1
Now if you haven't had your heartbroken before, this game would have done it. We lost the game 8-6 on a walk off 3 run home run. We played good fundamental baseball for 8 1/2 innings but in the 9th the wheels fell off and Adelaide mounted a very improbable comeback as they scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to steal the game. We sent Dae-Sung Koo out to save the game like we always do but just like the greats do, he had a rough day. After saving his first 14 games in his ABL career he blew his first save in this game. Just because he had one bad day that doesn't mean he won't get the ball again when another save opportunity comes around again. Just like the greats do they bounce back after a rough outing. The reason this game was so hard to take in is because it was our 8th loss in a row and being so close to winning and having it stolen from you is like when you're a kid and a bully steals your favourite toy. It definitely was one of the hardest losses I have ever been apart of.

When we got back to the hotel we found out that we wouldn't be able to wash our uniforms since the laundry room at the hotel closed at 10:00pm and the maids had left so we had to play in smelly, dirty uniforms for the 2nd game. Luckily I'm a pitcher and when we're not pitching in the game we don't really sweat that much, but I feel sorry for the position players who were running around all game. I just hung my training uniform and playing cloths up to try and air them out.

On our second day in Adelaide I woke up just in time to get down to breakfast and get something to eat. There wasn't much variety, just cereals, toast and fruit but I'm not going to complain as long as I don't pay for it. After breakfast I just went back to my room and played games and watched Happy Gilmore on the iPad. It's definitely one of the best purchases I have made in a while. So many hours of entertainment can be stored on it.

It had also been quite wet all morning and afternoon with some rainfall. Everyone got ready, loaded their bags and team equipment into the vans and as soon as we were ready to go our manager got a call saying that batting practise has been cancelled due to the field being too wet. So we all got out of the vans and headed back to our rooms since we had another 90 minutes to kill. So like I always do, I got back into bed and continued to play on the iPad. We finally left for the field at 4:30pm and by then the rain had stopped but we were all preparing ourselves for a cold night.

Game 2
Once again we played good fundamental baseball, but this time it was for only 6 innings as an error lead to a 5 run 6th inning, and another error lead to a 6 run 7th inning for Adelaide and they put the game out of reach at 11-3. I was able to pitch this game and pitched a lot better than last week but it was still a bitter sweet feeling since we still lost. I came into the game in the 7th inning with loaded bases and none out. I struck out the first hitter and then induced a ground ball. We were able to get the out at 2nd base but an off target throw to 1st base to turn the double play pulled Boss Moanaroa off first base which allowed 2 runs to score. I then struck out the next batter to end the inning. When I came out for my first inning I had the top of the lineup to face. In the middle of my innings Matt Williams gave me small scouting reports on each of the hitters I was facing since he faced the bulk of the Adelaide lineup in the first game. I felt more prepared facing these hitters and felt like I had an advantage going out there. I walked the first hitter on 6 pitches but then got the next 3 hitters out and no further damage was done.

After the game we were able to wash our uniforms since we spoke to the hotel about letting us use the laundry room. So I chucked my uniform in with a couple of other players and while I waited for it to wash and dry I had dinner which was a cold roast chicken that I picked at to the bone. I was about to go to sleep and then someone started knocking on the door. When I got up to see who it was no one was there but my laundry was there on the floor. I was too tired to notice that my clothes were still wet so I just picked it up and threw it inside.

When I woke up in the morning I went to breakfast again then like I do, played on my iPad for a while. When it was time to get ready my clothes were still wet. So I tried to hang them up and blow dry them but it was very unsuccesful. The blow dryer in the hotel had the strength of a elderly relative breathing on you. Once it was time to leave my training clothes were still a bit damp but not as bad as before.

Game 3
Well, we did it. We broke our 9 game losing streak thanks to a great outing by Aiden Francis. I think great is an understatement. It was outstanding. He only allowed 3 hits, which he gave up in the first 2 innings and then went on to throw 6 no hit innings after that. His day finished off with 8 innings pitched, 3 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks and 8 strike outs. We were helped by home runs from Tyler Collins and Alex Johnson and Dae-Sung Koo came into the game in the 9th inning to close it out and preserve the shutout.

We had to wait a little under 2 hours before the next game so we all went back to the clubhouse, and relaxed, ate some food, played a couple of ball games outside. I'm convinced that baseball players never grow up because we can make a game out of nothing. Just give us a baseball, and a an empty bottle and we'll figure something to do with it.

Game 4
The celebration was short lived as we went down 4-2 in the last game of the series. We played well again but just not enough to win it. Adelaide scored 3 of their runs on home runs and only scored in the middle innings. Collings, Johnson and Boss Moanaroa combined to go 7 for 15 while the rest of the lineup went 2 for 21. So some players are starting to heat up while some of the bats are still a bit cold. We still have a lot of the season to go so hopefully the entire lineup will hit form at the same time.

If you look back on last weekends results and how we played, we have made many improvements to our game. The team's spirit is still high and we are all behind each other.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

ABL Week 3 - vs Perth Heat

This was always going to be a hard weekend playing the reigning champions and ABL front runners the Perth Heat but we felt like we were up to the task, but Perth outplayed us on the field and we couldn't get anything going for us.

The series started off on a bad note with the first game being cancelled due to rain. With the revised schedule we played a game on Friday night, two games on Saturday and an afternoon game on Sunday.

Game 1
Just like we had done the last 2 series, Craig Anderson got the ball to start the first game of the series. He pitched well but got into a little bit of trouble in the 7th and ended up giving 5 runs in 6 1/3 innings. Despite out hitting Perth 12 to 9, we couldn't capitalize when you got runners on base. Dan Schmidt who used to be signed with the Phillies when I was with them started for Perth and turned in his best start of the year going 8 strong innings giving up only 1 run, which came off the bat of Boss Moanaroa who hit a solo home run in the 8th.

Game 2
This is a game I would much rather forget. The team lost 16-1 and we gave up 24 hits in the 9 inning game. Personally I was embarassed with my performance. I came into the game in the 4th with us down 5-0 and runners on 1st and 3rd. By the time I exited the game with 2 outs in the 5th Perth's lead was 11-0. I gave up 8 hits, and 4 runs in 1 2/3 innings. A day I would much rather forget and I'm sure the team would rather forget.

Game 3
This game went into extra innings thanks to a great start from Wayne Lungdren, even better relief pitching from Chris Oxspring and clutch hitting by Michael Lysaught. We didn't get much going in this game, but when we did Lysaught did some damage by hitting 2 RBI doubles off the wall in the 4th and the 8th innings. Like we always do, we sent Koo out in the 9th and he threw a scoreless inning but couldn't escape the hot Perth bats in the 10th as they scored 3 unearned runs and had the game under control. We were able to get the winning run to the plate in the 10th but couldn't capitalize.

Game 4
If we thought the 16-1 loss was bad. We weren't ready for what Perth were going to do to us on Sunday. From the dugout, we just couldn't believe what we were seeing. Their first 2 hits of the game were both infield hits and it just made us think, what do we have to do for things to go our way? Apparently nothing wanted to go our way as we hit balls hard straight to fielders, and they hit bloop singles in between our fielders. Long story short, Perth won 19-3 and they pounded out 20 hits again.

This series left us with a 4-8 record and its left Perth with a perfect 11-0 start to the season. The season can't be won in November, but it definitely can be lost, so we need to start winning series and start creeping up the ladder again. It's time to turn our swag on.

Monday, 14 November 2011

ABL Week 2 - vs Brisbane Bandits

I made my first roster for the season after being unavailable for the first week against Melbourne. I'm always excited to go on the road for the ABL and I especially love going to Brisbane. That is mainly because I am a huge Brisbane Broncos fan, so when I head up to Brisbane I feel like I belong for once when it comes to supporting a Rugby League team.

Tyler Collins and me had to travel to the airport on the train and everything was running smoothly up until we got to Auburn Station. That's when we went into a 15 minute delay and the train sat at the station for that time. It got quite hot in there and the last thing we needed was to be sweating before we get on a plane.

We arrived at the airport just before 10:00am after leaving Rooty Hill Station at 8:15am. That journey to the airport took longer then the actual plane ride to Brisbane. I'm glad I invested in an iPad because the plane didn't have any TV's so I was kept entertained by all the TV shows I had bought on my iPad. Made the flight go very quickly.

Once we got to Brisbane we all loaded our gear into the vans. In the Minor Leagues we travel everywhere on buses but in the ABL we travel in 12 seater vans. We had 2 12 seater vans, 1 van to put all the gear in and the coaches had a car to themselves. We headed off to the hotel once everything was loaded on but just our luck, we all got lost heading to our hotel. There were a lot of u-turns, back tracking and slowing down for the other vans to catch up but we finally got to our hotel. I was roomed with Josh Wells and Aiden Francis. When you have 3 people to a room you usually have a small room with little space. This wasn't the case this time. We had a kitchen, a bathroom, a washing machine and dryer, a lounge room and 2 bedrooms. One of the bedrooms had a double bed and the other bedroom that was upstairs had 2 single beds. I was the first one into the room and saw the double bed so I immediately took it, until I found out that the other 2 beds in the room were single beds. Now if you have ever met Josh Wells you would know that he is a very tall guy, 6"8 to be exact, so there was no way he was going to be able to fit on the single bed. I assessed the situation and I let Josh have the double bed, in exchange for him paying for my dinner one night. In my opinion, it was a good trade.

Game 1
We won this game 6-4 thanks to the hitters forcing the Brisbane Bandits starter out of the game after just 4 innings. Alex Johnson led the offense going 2 for 3 with a double and 2 RBI's while Trent D'Antonio, Boss Moanaroa and Shannon Pender each got 2 hits a piece. Just like Craig Anderson did on opening night, he gave us another quality start giving up 1 run in 7 complete innings. Todd Grattan took over in relief and ran into some trouble giving up 3 runs before Dae-Sung Koo came in to nail down the save.

After the game we headed back to the hotel and since my room had a washer and dryer my room mates and I had to do some of the teams laundry. There were 2 other rooms just like ours so we didn't have to do all of it. I didn't stay up all night to take the clothes out of the washer. That was Aiden Francis's job for the night.

I even organised their laundry, good room mate I am

Game 2
We lost 10-0. As you can tell by the scoreline we didn't do too much right. It ended up being a mercy rule loss which is the first for this years ABL. Not something I thought would happen to us. The Bandits pitcher Alex Maestri kept our bats quiet for 5 innings giving up only 5 hits while striking out 10. It just wasn't our night.

After the game we put the uniforms in the laundry and then I went out to try and find dinner with some of the boys. They found a place to eat and then all of a sudden I lost them and was by myself. So I just went to 7/11, bought a sandwich and a drink and walked back to the hotel. I didn't have my iPhone on me to help me on my way back so I was following my nose. It took me about 30 minutes to walk back and when I got into my room I took the washing out of the washer, threw it into the dryer and then went to bed.

On our 3rd day in Brisbane I decided that it was finally time for me to head to Suncorp Stadium which is the home of my favorite Rugby League team the Brisbane Broncos. Now I have been a huge Brisbane Broncos fan for the last 12 years and have never been to their home ground so it was quite exciting for me once I got there. I took a cab ride there by myself and walked around the stadium and went into the team store. I wasn't allowed access to inside the stadium but from inside the store I was able to see the grass and the seating. It was quite magical. I decided since it was a nice sunny day in Brisbane I may as well walk back to the hotel. It took my about 45 minutes but I didn't mind since the sun was out and I got to see most of Brisbane's city.

Game 3
We lost this game again 2-0. It was tough luck loss for starting pitcher Aiden Francis who only gave up 2 runs in 6 1/3 innings. The bats were only able to muster 1 hit for the entire game which came off the bat of Trent D'Antonio.

When we got back to the hotel Josh Wells and me couldn't be bothered going out to try and find food so we called nearly every restaurant in the area to see if they delivered. We found luck on our 4th try which was an Indian restaurant. We ended up buying $80 worth of food. Josh was planning on paying with his savings card but they said it didn't work, so he told them not to worry and that he would pay by cash. He ran downstairs to find an ATM but there was none there so he ran up the street to see if there was an ATM there. Once again no luck so he came back up to the room to call the restaurant if we could pay for our meal using my debit card. Luckily I know he's a good bloke and he will pay me back.

On our final morning in Brisbane my room mates and I went to breakfast then went for a relaxing session in the sauna. It was quite a small sauna so with 3 of us in there it was pretty full and then we were joined by 3 more of our team mates. Would of been awkward if anyone else wanted to come in. We went back up to the room to pack all of our stuff then boarded the bus for our 1:00pm game.

Game 4
Since it was an afternoon game we didn't take batting practice on the field. Instead the hitters took it in the cages. Since us pitchers don't have to stand in the outfield and field all the balls being hit, we went out onto the field and played a little bit of frisbee. If anyone has seen us after our training sessions or come to the games early enough you will notice that us pitchers love to toss the frisbee around. We lost this game again on a score of 2-1. Vaughan Harris started and threw 7 great innings giving up only 1 run. I came on to throw the 8th inning and gave up a lead off double. I was quite unlucky because the ball was popped up to center field and our center fielder lost the ball in the sun and the ball landed 2 metres away and since no one touched the ball it is technically a hit. I got the next guy to pop up to the catcher, struck out the 3rd hitter and then the 4th hitter lined out to shortstop to end the inning so personally, it was a good start to my year. It was also my first outing since I went to Panama for the World Cup and I was a little bit rusty. Struggled to find the strike zone a bit, but once I got the ball down in the zone everything felt fine. We tied the game up in the 9th thanks to a home run by Tyler Collins. He hit it at least 130 metres, which is around 420feet. Chris Oxspring came on in the 9th but was also very unlucky not to get out of the inning without giving up a run. With a runner on 2nd with 2 outs, the Brisbane hitter hit a ball down the right field line that bounced off 1st base out of the reach from our 1st basemen which allowed the run to score.

It was quite a disappointing end to what was a very rough series, but now we must look ahead to playing the undefeated Perth Heat at home.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Quote of the Day

Manager Kevin Boles is featured today as my quote of the day. As all Blue Sox fans know Alex Johnson isn't as fast or agile as most baseball players, so Kevin made this joke about Alex after he hit a scorching line drive to the right field wall.

"And good job Alex on stretching that single into a double from that line drive to the wall"

For a runner with average speed anything hit to the wall is a sure double, but for Alex, it's not quite the same. I think everyone in the team laughed, even Alex. Safe to say we know how to have some fun on this team.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Back to Reality

Not too long ago a friend I went to school with posted a status saying "Pre Season training starts tomorrow, back to reality". He is also a professional athlete who plays in the National Rugby League. As I read this status it made me wonder what reality really is. I'm guessing he believes reality is heading back to his job and his time to party is over. For me, reality is when I have to get on a plane back home after spending a season of Minor League Baseball in America. That is reality, having to go home and not get to play baseball everyday. As far as I'm concerned, no matter how tough it is, how long the season may be, playing baseball is the dream, and heading home is reality.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

ABL Week 1 - vs Melbourne Aces

After the official ABL Opening Night was cancelled in Perth due to rain, all teams would open their seasons up on 4th November. We took on the Melbourne Aces, Perth played the Adelaide Bit and Canberra played the Bandits.

Game 1
After 8 months of no baseball all Blue Sox fans were eager to get the season underway and we certainly gave them a show to remember winning on walk off sacrifice fly by Tyler Collins. Tyler was one of the stars on the night scoring a run for us as well as driving in that game winning run. Alex Johnson and Boss Moanaroa each got a pair of hits while Craig Anderson went 6 1/3 great innings giving up only 2 hits and 1 unearned  run. He was also perfect through 5 innings.

Celebrating the walk off
Game 2
Sometime when I'm not on the roster for the weekend, I will still go to the game but I may sit in the stands. It's fun to be apart of the crowd and hear all the things the fans talk about that you wouldn't be able to hear whilst on the field. This was the first of the double header and we came out on top again with a hard fought 8-6 win. Melbourne started the scoring with 1 run in the 1st inning but we responded in the bottom of the frame scoring 4 runs highlighted by Alex Johnson's 3 run home run. Melbourne scored a run in the 4th from a throwing error by Michael Lysaught which allowed Justin Huber to scored from 2nd, but once again we responded by scoring 2 runs to extend our lead to 6-2. The Aces quickly clawed their way back thanks to back to back to back hits that drove in 3 runs and then they scored again in the 6th thanks to a sacrifice fly. The game was all tied til the 8th inning when Pat Maat hit a line drive shot that bounced off the top of the left field wall that scored Josh Dean. Michael Lysaught then added an insurance run by hitting a triple to drive in Pat from 2nd. We then handed the ball to the ever reliable Dae-Sung Koo who completed the win by throwing a perfect 9th inning.

Game 3
The 2nd game of the day was always going to be a tough ask for us as we were facing a Major League pitcher. Shane Lindsay made his Major League debut this year for the Chicago White Sox. We had our own weapon to counter with as we sent Wayne Lungdren out who performed extremely well in our pre season games. We struck first when Boss Moanaroa slapped a single to right field to score Trent Schmutter in the 4th. Melbourne didn't waste time striking back as they started to get to Lungdren who seemed to tire in 5th inning. They scored 3 runs in the frame and Lungdren left the game in that inning and was relieved by Todd Grattan who ended the inning without allowing any more damage. The game slowed down a bit in the middle innings as both teams started to commit a few errors which lead to unearned runs being scored. The scored was tied at 6-6 but then the Aces quickly put the game out of reach by scoring 7 runs in the top of the 8th. We managed to scored 3 runs in the 9th inning but it wasn't enough as we suffered our first defeat of the season going down 13-9.

Game 4
We needed to win this game to win the series and the game was moving fast completing 3 innings in 40 minutes and then the heavens opened up and provided us with 20 minutes of torrential rain. That rain was enough for us to go into a 2 1/2 hour rain delay. I have to thank the crowd who stuck around during that rain delay. 1,400 people attended the game and by the end of I think there were still over 900 people there in the stands. The major problem with this rain delay was that Melbourne had to leave the field by 5:30 to catch their flight home. So the ABL curfew rule was in play which meant that no new batter was allowed to step into the box after 5:10pm. We had already completed 3 innings and that meant we had to finish the top half of  of the 5th inning. Chris Oxspring resumed the game on the mound for us and he completed the top of the 4th inning with no problem. Melbourne sent out young Sam Gibbons out to pitch who will be a team mate of mine next year when I go back to Spring Training with the Minnesota Twins. He was unable to stop us from scoring as we scored a run on the back of singles to Trent Schmutter and Alex Johnson with 1 out. Melbourne now knew the best chance they had of salvaging anything from this game was to waste time and hopefully make sure the top of the 5th didn't get completed so the game would be suspended. I know the fans didn't like it at the time but it is apart of sports. The manager did his best to make sure his team would not lose this game so he made 3 pitching changes in the inning. After Gibbons, he sent 3 pitchers out to the mound. All these changes he made didn't help as we grounded into a double play after the final pitching change. We were now in a race against the clock and had to complete the inning in 7 minutes. Chris Oxspring walked the lead off before inducing a ground ball to turn a double play and then he got the final out with 1 minute to spare which handed us the series victory.

If the first round of the season is anything to go by, Australian Baseball League fans better strap themselves in because its going to be one hell of a ride!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Australian Baseball League Season 2

After that night back on November 6th 2010, the Australian Baseball League was reborn after spending the last 11 year in exile. Now as we are into November this year, the Australian Baseball League is ready to go for round 2.

I will be playing with the Sydney Blue Sox again this season and after falling 1 win short of heading to the championship series the team is hungrier and keener then ever to get right back into it. We have a few new players to go along with a new manager which should lead to some entertaining baseball for the Sydney fans. In our preseason we played a scrimmage game between the Sydney Blue Sox players who grew up in the city, verses the Blue Sox players who grew up in the country. The city team won by 1 run in a very fun game. We then played 3 games against the Canberra Cavalry, resulting in 1 tie, 1 loss and 1 win. The win was quite strange for us as we were losing 4-1 heading into the last inning, before we won the game on a walk off balk! One of my team mates Todd Grattan called it a 'balk-off' win which sounded quite smart.

There have been a few changes to the Blue Sox off field as well. We have a new General Manager who has a very famous baseball name. David Balfour will take over from Eddie Bray as the GM and yes, he is the father of Oakland Athletics pitcher Grant Balfour. We also have a new name for our field. It will know be known as the Blacktown International Sportspark. With the new name we thought it be appropriate to alter the stadium a bit. We know have expanded the capacity of the ballpark to almost double. We also have a new uniform which is know an all white home uniform opposed to the blue jersey and white pants that we were last year. We will know wear the blue jersey with grey pants for away games, and also wear the blue jersey on days we have double headers at home.

With all these changes around the Blue Sox, it only gets you more excited to rip into the new season!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Long Journey Home - Part II

Well I was hoping to post a picture up of the long journey home from Panama with the stopwatch on my iPhone just like I did for the journey home from Fort Myers this year, but my iPhone's screen shot function doesn't want to cooperate with me. So I'll just have to write the times down for everyone to see.

1- Bus ride from Sheraton Hotel to Airport        - 00:25:04
2- Time spent in Panama City's airport            - 01:57:09
3- Flying time from Panama City to Atlanta     - 03:34:13
4- Time spent in Atlanta's airport                    - 06:46:33
5- Flying time from Atlanta to Los Angeles     - 04:17:31
6- Time spent in Los Angeles airport              - 02:09:36
7- Flying time from Los Angeles to Sydney     -14:35:31

It was nearly 34 hours worth of travel. On the last flight from Los Angeles to Sydney I had a window seat and had two senior citizens sitting next to me who slept nearly the entire flight. I sat down the entire trip, very annoying. Once I finally got up to get off the plane it felt like I was learning to walk again.

Luckily this is where my journey stopped. Most of the other players still had one more flight to go after landing in Sydney. I think Justin Erasmus had the worst journey of us all. If memory serves me correct, he flew from Panama to Miami to Los Angeles to Auckland to Brisbane. So he was in 5 different airports in 4 different countries in the space of 48 hours. That is no fun at all.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Quote of the Day

This is an archived quote that comes from Jon Deeble after we lost our 3rd game without scoring a run at the World Cup.

"I still think we're a top 8 team in the world, heck, I believe we're a top 5 team in the world, but its no use just me believing, you guys have to believe it to"
I guess we believed.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

World Cup - Day 19 - vs Korea

After a long and tough tournament we were down to our final game. It's not the game we were hoping to be apart of but we still had a chance to equal Australia's best ever finish at a World Cup.

It was an early wake up for us because we had to drive all the way back to Santiago which as you know, is more then a 3 hour drive away. I woke up at 5:45am to get ready to catch the 6:30am bus. One rule about hotels is to not take the pillows outside the hotel, but everyone turned a blind eye to this rule and nearly everyone took a pillow from their room to try and catch some sleep on the ride. For some reason we had a new bus today and the leg room was decreased by about 5 inches. My knees were touching the seat in front of me pretty much the entire trip which was quite uncomfortable.

Finally arrived at Santiago around 9:45am which gave us just over an hour to prepare for the game. Once again it was everyone on their own program to get ready to play. I just went for a run and played a little catch. The game got underway and it was a good old fashioned 'Staff' day where we use the bullpen pitchers to get us through the game. Paul Mildren started, then Kable Hogben threw 2 innings, followed by Justin Erasmus then Steven Kent came in and threw 3 scoreless innings to close it out. Scott Wearne picked up 2 hits today while Mitch Dening hit a home run in the 4th inning.

After starting the tournament on 3 straight losses without scoring a run and then finishing in 5th place, it just shows how strong the Aussie spirit is. We could of easily sat back and relaxed and just go through the motions but after our day off we found some inspiration and a never say die attitude which sent us on a 7-2 run for our final 9 games with only a pair of tough 2-1 losses against the USA and Netherlands stopping us from playing for a gold medal. We were a very young team with the average age being 24 years old and we also had 10 rookies on the team who experienced the World Cup for the first time. There's no reason that in the next few years that we can't be playing in a gold medal game at a World Cup.

As for me, I only threw 1 1/3 innings this tournament which was in game 1 against Cuba. I didn't get much experience on field, but everything I learnt just by sitting on the bench and talking to all the veteran players was just as valuable to me. Some people may be disappointed that they didn't get much game time, but not me. It was an honour and a privilege to wear the Australian colours every day and to be able to stand out on that field and sing the national anthem . I'm still young so I know I will have more opportunity in the future to represent Australia. In the last 18 months I have gone from being the oldest player at the Major League Baseball Australian Academy to the youngest player on the men's national team. Not too bad if you ask me.

Friday, 14 October 2011

World Cup - Day 18 - vs Panama

Woke up today and went to breakfast then went to go pick up my laundry only for it not to be there. I thought no worries, its still over an hour until we have to leave so I'll just go back down later to see if it's there. With about 35 minutes before we left the laundry wasn't there, then with about 25 minutes before we left, the laundry still wasn't there. I began to worry so about 15 minutes before we left I went to check downstairs to see if our uniforms were there, and sure enough they were there in bags. Instead of us taking our clothes from the bags we all just jumped on the bus in casual clothes and had to get ready at the field.

We left at 9:00am to head to Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City. The journey is suppose to take around 30 minutes, but this journey took over an hour which wasn't ideal for us seeing as the game started at 11:00am. Nonetheless we all did what we had to do to get ready for the game. Before the game we do introductions, and it was pretty funny doing introductions when there were about 10 people in a stadium that holds up to 25,000. We joked around as we ran out waving to the 'crowd'.

The crowd was electric today!

We defeated Panama 5-4 in another extra inning thriller. If only every game we played went into extra innings, I'm confident we would win all of them. In extra innings our team seems to find another gear and well in baseball terms, we get clutch and get the big hit and the important out. Stefan Welch was the offensive star for us today going 3 for 5 and driving in 4 of the 5 runs. Tom Brice also went 3 for 4 and drove in our other run. Chris Oxpsring delivered another quality start and left the game with a 3-2 lead but Brendan Wise was unable to shut the door giving up 1 run whilst getting 1 out. Steve Kent then came in and threw the last 1 2/3 innings picking up the victory. Even though we won it still wasn't enough to get us into the bronze medal game, instead we are playing for 5th spot which would equal Australia's best finish at a Baseball World Cup.

When we got back to the hotel I still didn't have a room, so I went back to Justin and Kable's room and sat there for a little while before I went for a walk to the mall just to see if there was anything worth buying. This time every shop in the mall was open, but there was nothing worth buying. Not a bad thing I guess, get to save a bit of money. 

After my adventure to the mall I finally had a room to move into, so packed up my bags again and moved 4 floors down into the new room. Feels nice to finally be able to lay down in a bed after a long day and tomorrow is only going to be longer as we may have to wake up at 6:30am to travel back to Santiago to play for 5th spot. We've already battled hard all tournament, we pretty much came back from the dead to make it to the second round, all we need is to dig deep one more time.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

World Cup - Day 17 - vs Netherlands and USA

We were prepared for a long day today. First of all we had to play a 7 inning game against Team USA at 12:00pm and then finish off our game against the Netherlands at 3:30pm and then get on the bus and travel 4 hours back to Panama City to play our game tomorrow against Panama.

The game against the USA was another old fashioned pitching duel and it was only appropriate we handed the ball to Clayton Tanner to take on his home country. I consider Clayton an Aussie, but you can't go past the fact that he has spent all but 6 months of his life in America. He was also excited for the challenge to face them. Clayton and the USA pitcher traded zeroes for 5 innings before the USA pitcher was pulled from the game in the 6th for a relief pitcher. Clayton then went out for the 6th and the lead off hitter got on base by an error and then he eventually scored to give the USA a 1-0 lead, and then 2 batters later another run scored to put them ahead 2-0. We scored a run in the top of the 7th and then had a runner on 1st with 1 out, but the pitcher caught a line drive hit straight back at him, then doubled off the runner to end of the game. It was quite disappointing to lose this game as both runs the USA scored were both unearned.

After that game we had a little over an hour to get ready for the final 3 innings against the Netherlands. When the game continued the dutch wasted no time in getting ahead as they scored a run in the bottom of the 7th to take the lead 2-1 and that was all they needed as our offense couldn't figure out the dutch relief pitchers. These two losses now put us in a very difficult position to give us a chance at medal. With a win against Panama, and a few losses to the teams above us, we still have a shot at the bronze medal game.

Once that game finished we all showered up and got on the bus ready for the bus ride to Panama. We played 2 movies on the bus but I really didn't pay too much attention to them. I listened to music and try and nap a bit. Surprisingly I sleep quite well on buses, just wish I could sleep as easily on planes.

We arrived at the hotel around 9:00pm. Everyone is quite happy to be back at the Sheraton, mainly because of the fast internet, and we're right in the middle of the city. When we were checking in the front desk told us that two rooms will have 3 people in them and being a rookie, I just knew I would be one of the guys in a room with 3 people, and sure enough I'm roomed with Justin Erasmus and Kable Hogben. Kind of feels like the good old Australian Academy days with 3 to a room.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

World Cup - Day 16 - vs Netherlands

Today we played the Netherlands, well I can't say played since the game isn't over yet, so I guess I should say today we were playing the Netherlands until rain decided to ruin our parade. Today's game was a good old fashioned pitching duel with the dutch starter going 6 1/3 innings for 1 run, and our own Dushan Ruzic tossed 6 innings for 1 run. Midway through the 7th inning the heavens opened up once again in Panama and the tarp was on the field. Like most rain delays here we were expecting to be back on the field within 30 minutes but that wasn't the case today. We spent 2 1/2 hours in the clubhouse waiting for the rain to stop, but it didn't and they eventually suspended the game. So instead of talking about the game, I'll talk about what activities we got up to in the clubhouse.

First of all, as soon as they pulled the tarps on, everyone got their iPods, iPads and iPhones out to get on the internet but that was an epic fail activity as the wi-fi in the clubhouse wasn't working too well, maybe because 25 people were trying to log in at one time. I was able to get wi-fi for a little bit, but it was very frustrating so I decided to find a corner somewhere in the clubhouse and take a nap. Once I woke up from my glorious nap I  just lurked around the clubhouse for something to do and found myself in the batting cages behind the clubhouse. So what's more Aussie then getting a baseball bat, and playing some cricket while at a baseball game? We played for about 20 minutes before we decided to call it quits. I think Hayden Beard was scared I would embarrass him with my spin bowling. Once all that was done we sat around for another 50 minutes with nothing happening as the rain continued and then around 7:45pm they decided to suspend the game and make us finish it off tomorrow. We waited around all that time just to tell us the game would be suspended. I don't know how to read a weather radar, but even I could of told you just by looking at the sky that the rain wasn't going to stop for a few hours.

The waiting didn't stop there. As soon as the game got suspended two players had to be drug tested and well, we had to wait another hour for Hayden Beard to do his business. Didn't bother us as we started watching a movie on the bus that kept us entertained. As soon as Hayden got back on the bus he received a large round of applause from the team.

Once we got back to the hotel we had to sit around and wait to see what was going to happen with the upcoming schedule. We found out later on in the night that we will play the USA at 12:00pm tomorrow in a 7 inning game, then complete the game against the Netherlands at 3:30pm. We will then have to travel 4 hours to Panama City, where we will be playing Panama at 11:00am tomorrow morning. The next 36 hours are going to be big, but we're up to the task and have a real chance of playing in the gold medal game in two days.

Relaxing in the dugout, about 2 hours into the rain delay

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

World Cup - Day 15 - vs Canada

We're down to the business end of the World Cup now and in the 2nd Round the first team we had to come up against was Canada who finished in 1st place in Group A with a 6-1 record. We knew the next 4 games are going to be tough to make it to the gold medal game but we were up to the challenge today taking down Canada 7-0. It was a team effort to win this game, but I can't go past the outstanding job Ryan Searle did on the mound today. He threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing only 3 hits and striking out 6. He only got into trouble in the 4th inning when he loaded the bases with 0 outs, but got out of it thanks to a out at home, then a double play to end the inning. The offense was lead by Tim Kennelly who ended the game a triple shy of the cycle. We wasted no time getting on the board scoring early and often again. Scoring six runs on eight hits against three Canadian pitchers in the first half of the game. 

Once we got back to the hotel, we had a recovery session in the pool. When the pool session was over, we all expected to get back into our rooms and relax for a little while on the internet. The internet had other plans as it did not work for 5 hours. So as I write this, this is the first time I have been online since 5:00pm, quite an achievement for me.

Tomorrow we play the Netherlands and have Dushan Ruzic on the mound, who has spent the last year playing in Europe against many of the dutch players. Netherlands have a 7-1 record and we'll be looking to make that a 7-2 record.

Monday, 10 October 2011

World Cup - Day 14

Today was our day off before the 2nd round of the World Cup begins. First item on the agenda was to move to our new hotel in the morning and as soon as we arrived and were in the lobby, we could just tell that this hotel was going to be a major improvement on the last one. We didn't spend too much time there as we had planned to visit this island which was about a 90 minute bus ride away,  followed by a 15 minute boat ride. We were all expecting their to be a ferry and a dock, but all there was were some boats on the beach. So we had 5 boats filled with 5-7 people in each. Luckily I was in the faster boat, so the journey to the island wasn't too painful.

Once we go to the island we all jumped off our boats we immediately saw that there were hermit crabs on the beach, so since we are all grown up, we did what anyone would do, have some hermit crab racing.

After our exciting few minutes of hermit crab racing we did a little bit of exploring through, I guess you could call it a jungle. People were referring to the jungle as something from a 'Predators' movie, I thought it looked more like a scene from the 'Anacondas' movies which kind of worried me for a second because I actually thought there may be snakes in there. I still walked through the jungle fearlessly. After our little exploration we all jumped into the water and had a little recovery session. In my opinion, I think we needed to have a recovery session after the recovery session. Trying to do the same exercises we do in the pool in open water are a lot harder.

After spending some time on the island we all boarded our little boats and headed off back to the mainland. We hopped on the bus and drove back to the new hotel and were able to check into our new hotel. Which is definitely an improvement on the old one, for one the internet here is a lot quicker which will keep everyone happy for the next 5 days. We noticed that the Netherlands team had also just arrived from Panama City and a lot of guys on our team are friends with some of the Dutch players. I caught up with Twins team mate Tom Stuifbergen for a little while before going back to my room, laying in bed and being lazy all night.

A little bit of jungle exploring

Sunday, 9 October 2011

World Cup - Day 13 - vs Germany

We did our part today by taking down Germany. We scored early and often in the first 3 innings, putting up 9 runs on 10 hits which was just a continuation on the hitting display we put on last night. Mitch Dening led the offence going 3 for 4, driving in a run and scoring 2 runs.

My room mate Clayton Tanner got the start tonight, although it wasn't his best day he still left the game giving us a chance to win, and that's all you can ask from your starting pitcher. Justin Erasmus threw a scoreless 5th innings then Hayden Beard took over for the 6th. He allowed an unearned run in the 6th, then gave up a 2 run home run to his Canberra Cavalry team mate Donald Lutz. So guess Donald knew Hayden's scouting report better then Hayden knew Donald's scouting report. We then sent out the ever reliable Andrew Russell to close out the game and preserve the victory, and then we played the waiting game.

After the game I caught up with my Elizabethton Twins team mate, Max Kepler

Now after winning that game, our fate was in the hands of other teams. First of all we needed Venezuela to beat Italy, which they did in an extra inning thriller, then we either needed Korea to beat Dominica, or for Dominica to beat Korea by 9 runs or more. As I watched the game unfold on TV, Dominica led all game and were up 4-0 heading into the 9th inning, and then the Korean fightback began. The 9th inning consisted of, 3 straight singles to score a run, then 2 straight pop ups. Korean were down to there last out in the 9th and then! They hit a 3 run home run to tie the game. As the home run was hit, you could hear all the boys yelling from their rooms with excitement. I was thinking, we did our part and won today, Venezuela won in extra inninga, so they did their part, surely the baseball gods are with us. Cuba could not score a run in the 9th, so the game went into extra innings and as I mentioned in a previous post, in an IBAF tournament, extra innings will start with runners on 1st and 2nd. Korean came up in the 10th, executed a perfect bunt that put their runners on 2nd and 3rd. The Dominican pitcher then struck out the next guy he faced, so now it was 2 outs with runners on 2nd and 3rd. They then intentionally walked the next hitter to load the bases up, and set up a righty-righty match up. The match up failed as the Dominican pitcher walked the hitter, which drove in the go ahead run. The next hitter struck out to end the inning.

Korean came out to defend their 1 run lead. Dominica laid down a bunt, but the runner was thrown out at 3rd base. So Dominica had runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out which is a perfect situation, that is until the Korean pitcher threw a wild pitch to advance the runners a base each. The next hitter walked which loaded the bases up, which is still a perfect situation because they could still get the double play to end the game. Korea then made a pitching change and sent Ji Woong Yoon to the mound, who is now my best friend. He struck out the first hitter he face looking for the 2nd out of the inning, and then struck out the last hitter to end the game, and send Team Australia into the 2nd round. As the batter swung and missed at that last pitch, you could hear the yells from our team in this block as we all ran outside our rooms celebrating our birth into the 2nd round at the World Cup.

We have a off day tomorrow, and then prepare for the playoffs. You can just feel right now, there's something special in the air for Team Australia, and we aren't going down without a fight.

And we're going to the 2nd round!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Quote of the Day

Todays quote of the day comes from relief pitcher Andrew Russell. For everyone that's been following the Australian team, and who followed today's game against Venezuela, this quote is going to make a lot of sense.

"For the first three games we couldn't get anyone on base, now we can't get out!"
Even though the first three games of the World Cup were very frustrating for us, we still manage to see the light side of everything.

World Cup - Day 12 - vs Venezuela

The day didn't start according to plan as our bus was 20 minutes late so we had to rush when we got to the field to get ready for a 11:45am batting practice, but once we arrived they allowed us more time to get ready so we could stop panicking. Once batting practice was over we headed back into the clubhouse to relax before game time, which was 90 minutes away, but once game time came around the ground crew put the tarp on the field just before the rain had arrived. Once they got the tarp on, the rain started to come down hard and within 5 minutes the field was absolutely saturated, except for the infield that is. That is until they decided to take the tarp of the field at 2:45pm and somehow the water on the tarp rolled onto the field and turned the area between shortstop and 3rd base into a swimming pool, which meant we now had to wait for them to clear all that water off. After about 30 minutes of them trying to get rid of the water, they told us the new starting time would be 5:00pm so it allowed us to all go back into the clubhouse and relax for a while. A couple of guys played cards, as for me, I decided to take a nap.

A couple of the boys playing cards

Once the game got underway we started on fire with Mitch Dening hit a 2 run home run in the 1st inning. That was only the start of the offensive onslaught as we continued to score runs at a frantic pace, adding 4 runs in the 2nd, 4 more in the 4th, then capped it off with 5 runs in the 5th inning to finish it off. Every runner got on base, and all but two got a hit and drove in a run, so it was major team effort. All this offence was supported by starting pitcher Chris Oxpsring who cruised through 5 innings only allowing a few harmless singles.

Tomorrow we play Germany, and a win will give is a big chance on making it to the next round, depending on other results. We can't worry too much about the other games, all we have to do is focus on our own game and hopefully the other results will go in our favour. I also have two Minnesota Twins team mates playing for the German team, Max Kepler and Markus Solbach. So I definitely want to beat them. I can't give these two bragging rights heading into spring training.

Mitch Dening being greeted at home by James Beresford after his home run

Friday, 7 October 2011

Video of the Day

World Cup - Day 11 - vs Dominican Republic

Today, just like yesterday was a must win game for us and well, we didn't disappoint, we may have caused a few heart attacks but we still came out with a hard fought win against the Dominican Republic. This game had it all, we had lightning delays, the IBAF tie break rule and even a pitcher hitting.

Stefan Welch got the scoring underway in the 2nd inning with a solo shot over the right field wall, I think over the wall is an understatement. I'm pretty sure his home run went over the 2 lane road, and landed in someones front yard. We scored another run in the 4th with an RBI single from Tim Kennelly, then scored 3 runs in the 5th thanks to Justin Huber's bases clearing double. In the meantime Dushan Ruzic was throwing a hell of a game only allowing 1 run through his first 5 frames. In the 7th Huber was at it again, this time hitting a 2 run home run to left field, then an inning later Mitch Dening hit an RBI single to put us up 8-1 in the 8th. Then things became interesting as we went into a 30 minute lightning delay which meant Dushan Ruzic would not come back into the game. He finished the game throwing 7 strong innings, only allowing 1 run on 4 hits and was in line for the win. When the lightning delay was over we started the game in the bottom of the 8th and handed the ball to Kable Hogben who ran into some trouble in the inning allowing 3 runs whilst getting 2 outs. Brendan Wise backed up from last night and shut down the inning. He came out again for the 9th with a 4 run lead and all of a sudden the Dominican bats woke up and they tied the game up on 4 singles, a sac fly and an error which meant we were heading into extra innings.

Now extra innings in an IBAF competition you play under the tie breaker rules, which means you start every inning with runners on 1st and 2nd base. So we sent Scott Wearne to 2nd, David Kandilas to 1st and sent James Beresford to lead off the inning. Beresford got on from a very lucky bunt base hit that flirted with the foul line, then Mitch Dening came up in the clutch again delivering a bases clearing double to put us up by 3. Steve Kent came out to throw the bottom of the 10th, he struck out the first hitter, then gave up a single to left that scored the Dominican runner from 2nd base. Then the game got even more strange. Due to the Dominican manager pinch running for the designated hitter, then sending that pinch runner into the game, it meant the pitcher had to hit for himself, and well, in the 10th, the pitcher came up and struck out on a very ugly swing. Two pitches later, they attempted a double steal and the runner trying to take 2nd got caught ending the game and handing us our 2nd win to keep our hopes of making the playoffs alive.

It was very nerve wracking and exciting in the dugout, and I could only imagine what it would of been like for everyone back home watching the play-by-play online. Tomorrow we play Venezuala who lead our division with a 4-1 record, so everyone back home should gear up for another heart stopping game. Don't say we aren't making things exciting for you!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

World Cup - Day 10 - vs Nicaragua

Today we played an afternoon game against Nicaragua who we lost to in a practice game before the tournament started, but today we got up 4-3 in what was a much needed win for the team. We had great pitching today and some timely hitting, like I said, we keep doing everything right, and everything will fall into place and that will lead to a win and that's what happened today. We didn't change anything from the last few days, even though we were losing we were still playing good, hard baseball.

We had a few firsts today for the tournament. Mitch Dening scored our first run, Stefan Welch drove in the teams first run and Joel Naughton hit our first long ball, a line drive shot over the right field wall in the 5th inning. Ryan Searle got the start for us and delivered 5 solid innings only allowing 3 runs, 2 of which were earned. He was then relieved by Andrew Russell who threw 3 great innings, as well as making some great defensive plays to help his cause. To close the game out in the 9th we called upon Brendan Wise to nail down the save who threw a solid 9th to seal our first win at the World Cup.

After the game we did the usual routine of going to dinner then sitting in bed all night which is where I write this post right now. I'm watching the Yankees vs Tigers game at the moment, but would be nicer if it was in english instead of spanish.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

World Cup - Day 9

Well today was our day off, which is usually a day of rest and that is exactly what I did. I woke up around 8:00am because my body clock doesn't allow me to sleep in anymore and sat on my computer watching TV shows and talking to friends back home on Facebook. I was so relaxed that I actually missed going to breakfast, so I had to wait until lunch to get my first meal of the day. It was no big deal, I was still pretty full from the dinner I ate the night before.

The team decided to take a bus trip around town just to see what there was to offer, once again nothing really interested anybody, except maybe us rookie players getting strange looks from locals from our outfits when we got off the bus to take a team photo of the rookies. Like any baseball team you play on, the rookies pay their dues and usually have to do something embarrassing and well, the Australian team is no exception as some of the senior boys bought us less then flattering clothing to wear whilst on the bus trip. Some people may feel silly wearing it, but you just have to remember all the senior players have had to do it before, so you can either be a sour puss about it and not go along with it, or embrace it and have some fun. Safe to say this group of rookies really embraced our welcoming to Team Australia.

After our afternoon of team bonding we went back to the hotel, and relaxed all night. In my opinion it was quite a good day off, the boys all had a laugh but now tomorrow its back to business as we take on Nicaragua in a must win game.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

World Cup - Day 8 - vs Korea

The day started off a bad note as the lettering on our jerseys had been wiped off in the wash, so we will now be wearing our batting practice tops for the rest of the tournament. But as we came to terms that we will no longer be wearing our fresh white jersey or our green jersey, we realized we're Australians and we will look good wearing anything.

Since we had a night game today, we had the whole day to ourselves to do something so a few of us decided to check out the mall and waste a few hours doing some shopping. We arrived at the mall and from the outside it looked quite promising, but once we got inside, it was far from inspiring. There were not many shops and after about 10 minutes everyone had already done a lap of the mall and they saw nothing at all. So we ended up just having lunch at the mall then hopping back on the bus to the hotel. It ended up being an epic fail activity.

We got back to the hotel and I was actually exhausted from doing nothing so I went to my room and attempted to have a nap. The nap only lasted for about 20 minutes but I guess it gave me enough energy to make it through the day. We had lunch again at the hotel then we had enough time to go back to our rooms and relax before heading to the field.

We arrived at the field and went through the usual routine. Being a baseball player for a living, your life starts to feel like groundhog day. Before the game started we noticed an Australian flag in the crowd. We already have Justin Erasmus dad following us on tour, but he was joined by 5 other Aussies in the stands tonight which was quite a nice surprise. We played Korea today in what was a game we really needed to win. We went down 8-0 but the scoreboard once again did not reflect how hard we are playing. Clayton Tanner looked good tonight on the mound. His stuff was filthy but Korea got to him for 1 inning, and that's been the story so far this tournament for us. I'm sure its easy for everyone checking the updates online to see the scores and think we are playing badly but that is not the case. Our pitchers are battling out there, we fall into trouble from time to time which leads to a big inning but other then that we are pitching our butts off. Our defense has been outstanding, the hitters are having quality at bats, and hitting the ball hard but straight to gloves. We have had a few questionable calls go against us but that is out of our control. Like I said in my post yesterday, as long as we keep doing everything right, everything will fall into place and that will lead to a win.

Tomorrow we have a day off, and it will good for the team to get their minds of baseball for a day and just relax and hopefully get a chance to enjoy Panama for a day.

The small Aussie fan base in Panama

Monday, 3 October 2011

World Cup - Day 7 - vs Italy

We had to leave a bit earlier today to get to the game as we were playing in Santiago today which was about 1 hour away. We were meant to leave at 10:15am but just like the last few days, we didn't exactly leave on time. Just like every longer bus trip we have a movie playing, and today was no exception even though we wouldn't be able to finish the entire movie before we got to the stadium. We watched the movie Hall Pass, and if anyone has seen it, they would know how funny it is. I think our team enjoys watching comedies since that's all we have really watched on the bus trips.

We arrived at the field and did the usual, run, stretch, throw and then batting practice. By the end of batting practice it started to rain a little, and once we got back in the clubhouse the heavens had opened up and before you knew it the tarp was on the field and we were looking like heading into a rain delay. The scheduled game time was suppose to be 2:00pm but it was highly unlikely we would start anywhere close to that, I'm not too sure but I think we started the game close to 3:00pm.

Once the game got underway our starting pitcher Chris Oxspring and the Italian pitcher traded zeros through the first 3 innings, and then in the 4th Italy's bats woke up and they drove in 4 runs with 2 outs. We had dug ourselves into a hole, it wasn't too deep to get out of, but every time we got runners on base, the Italian defense either made a great play, or a very lucky play to end the inning. We just could never really get more then one runner on base until the last inning, but by then it was too late as Italy had got out to a 7-0 lead. It was quite a tough loss because now we have to win 4 out of the next 5 games to advance to the top 8 and give ourselves a chance at a medal. I believe we have the ability to win our next 5 games, and I'm sure everyone else on the team believes that as well. I know this is very cliche but we just have to take it one game at a time and win every battle, just have quality at bats, execute pitches and play good defense and the rest will hopefully take care of itself.

After the game we just headed back to the hotel, ate dinner then I think everyone just went back to their rooms to relax because I know that's exactly what I did. Tomorrow we play Korea and my room mate Clayton Tanner is starting on the mound for us, hopefully he can get us back on track and give us one in the win column.

The tarp on the field whilst the rain was coming down

Sunday, 2 October 2011

World Cup - Day 6 - vs Cuba

So today was the day of our first game against baseball powerhouses Cuba. We got on the bus at 11:00am to head to the field and the field was only 5 minutes away so that was a good change from the last couple of days when we've had to travel up to an hour to get to our practices. We got to the field and took batting practice and once it was all down we got back into the air conditioned clubhouse to get out of the heat.

We lost the game 14-0 but the scoreboard doesn't really reflect on how we played. If we make a few better pitches in certain situations and if a few hard hit balls land in the gaps instead of outfielders gloves it would have been a much different ball game. I got the chance to pitch in this game as well. I came in the game in the 6th with loaded bases and got out if it without allowing a run thanks to a great play at 3rd by Stefan Welch. I then came out for the 7th and wasn't quite as lucky. A ball was hit to 3rd that hopped up off Welch's glove into left field for a hit, then the next hitter hit a ball just out of his reach, then gave up a bloop base hit down right field line. Long story short, I ended up giving up 4 runs in the inning. I did hit a batter though and I don't think he was too happy about it. When I looked at him walking up the line to 1st he was giving me a death stare, so I politely smiled at him.

After the game we loaded the bus and headed back to the hotel and got into our rooms, only for the internet to be out. Clayton and me didn't know what to do with ourselves. He walked around the hotel with his laptop trying to find some internet.  When he came back from his walk he said he went to the front desk and they said it will be about an hour before the internet comes back. Now a lot of people think I'm the only one on the team who spends time on the internet, but I can guarantee most guys were as concerned and worried as I was when our web pages weren't opening up.

We play Italy tomorrow and we'll have Chris Oxspring starting on the mound, so we'll be looking to bounce back and get a win next to our names.

Pitching against Cuba

Photo of the Day

Cast your vote, who do you think is taller? Graeme Lloyd on the left, or Dushan Ruzic on the right