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!

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