Monday, 3 December 2012

ABL Week 5 vs Brisbane Bandits

We played Brisbane three weeks earlier and they took the series from us at home, so we were determined to head up north and ruin their weekend. This series was going to be a little different. The Bandits home ground was being used for a music festival which meant other locations had to be found to play at. We had to play four games, in three days at two different venues. The first three games would be played at Albert Park in the country town of Lismore, which is in our home state of New South Wales. The fourth game of the series was played on sunny Gold Coast. The locations of these games meant that travel arrangements to these venues would be very different to what we've experienced in the ABL before.

Before I start to talk about our travel day I need to tell everyone that even though Brisbane is in the same time zone as us, they don't have daylight savings. What this means is that when our flight left Sydney at 12:00pm, it was still only 11:00am in Brisbane. So this was how our lovely travel day went down, and please excuse all the times that I will be quoting, its vital to the story and the mind blowing adventure we had. Our flight left Sydney at 12:00pm and even though it was a 90 minute flight we landed in Brisbane at 12:30pm. We all got our bags and loaded the bus to to get ready for the three hour ride to Lismore around 1:00pm Brisbane time. Now things start to get complicated. As we were driving there was a huge car accident on the highway which backed up traffic for miles. This posed a huge problem as our batting practise at the field was supposed to start at 4:00pm. We ended up getting off the highway and drove along the coastline through residential areas to get around the traffic jam. Our big bus was going up and down hills on tiny streets. If we got any closer to the cars next to us, we would have crushed them. Now! Another bizarre thing we had to deal with was heading back into New South Wales and the time going ahead one hour. With all the traffic, all the driving through back streets we finally ended up getting to Lismore at 5:30pm Sydney time. We thought we were late, but that was nothing compared to the umpires who also got stuck in the same traffic jam as us. They ended up getting to the field at 7:00pm which was the scheduled starting time. It was no big deal as they suited up quickly and got out on the field and we started the game at 7:15pm. Pretty fun day right?

Game 1
It was going to be interesting to see who the fans would support. Even though the game was being played in NSW, it was a still a Brisbane home game. We found out early on that the crowd was very divided as Mitch Dening put us in front early by hitting a solo home run. Half the crowd cheered, and half the crowd was silent. We never surrendered the lead as we scored runs in the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th innings. Chris Oxspring earned his 2nd win of the season going seven innings, giving up three runs, with three strikeouts and three walks. The walks were the first free passes he has allowed all season. It was also a welcome return for Chris Snelling who hit a home run in his first professional game in over three years. We took game one of the series 8-3

Game 2
This was the first game of the double header and would only be a seven inning game. My roommate Tim Atherton made his first start of the season, and even though he didn't have his best stuff he threw five innings give up one run on a solo home run in the 2nd inning. We scored a run in the 1st inning and the scores remained the same up until the bottom of the 6th inning. Wayne Lundgren came into pitch the 6th inning and got the first two hitters out on strikeouts. The Bandits then mounted a mini rally. Josh Roberts hit a single which was followed by a two run home run by Cody Clark. We were able to get a run back in the top of the 7th inning but stranded runners on 3rd and 1st to end the game. Once again we had chances to win the game but were unable to come up with the clutch hit. Brisbane ran out winners 3-2.

Game 3
The Bandits scored first with a run in the bottom of the 3rd inning. However we answered back quickly with a run in the top of the 4th when Geoff Klein drove in Mitch Dening with a groundout. After Brisbane took a 2-1 run lead into the 5th inning we scored two runs in the 7th thanks to a Chris Snelling single that scored JD Williams, then Snelling came into score on an error to give us a 3-2 lead. Craig Anderson threw 6 2/3 innings before I came into relief in the 7th inning. I ended the inning on my first pitch as the hitter lined out to 3rd base. I came out to throw the 8th and gave up a weak single to Josh Roberts. That was the only damage that was done as I struck out the next two hitters before being relieved by Dae-Sung Koo who ended the inning with a fly ball out. Matt Williams came into the game in the 9th and ran into a little bit of trouble, but with loaded bases and one out in the bottom of the 9th, and hanging onto a one run lead, Williams was able to get Brad Dutton to ground into a game ending double play. It was a nerve wracking end to a great series in Lismore.
Yep, I make that face before I throw each pitch. Just breathing deeply.

We enjoyed another night in Lismore before we had to travel north to the Gold Coast to play the final game of the series. We loaded the bus and left Lismore at 10:00am, and arrived on the Gold Coast at 10:30am thanks to the time difference. You encounter many oddities in the ABL and well, seeing as though the facility we played at is only used for a few weeks of the year, and its not a home to any baseball club, they don't have any real change rooms to cater for two teams of 22 players and staff. We were able to make it work. Only a few players got dressed at the same time, so it was no big deal. It just smelled really bad and was really hot in there.
The scene inside the change room

Game 4
Long story short, this was an offensive onslaught unseen by us this year. We scored early and often and took out the game 9-2. Mitch Dening and Trent D'Antonio both hit two run home runs in the 6th inning. Tim Cox earned his first win of the season going six shutout innings, scattering seven hits and striking out three. It was a fun game to the end of a great series.

After the game we all had to shower in our tiny change rooms and head further up north to Brisbane to catch our flight home. Very satisfied with the series after Brisbane took the series from us in Sydney, it was fun to beat them on their "home" turf.

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