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

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