2017/18 ABL R2 – Adelaide v Melbourne
25 Nov 2017 19:30 AEDT
Round 2 of the 2017/18 Australian Baseball League season features Adelaide v Melbourne.
GAME 1: Thursday, 7.30pm AEDT
GAME 3: Saturday, 7.30pm AEDT
Adelaide will hope the comfort of home will help spark its offence into action against Melbourne.
The Bite fell to a series-sweep at the hands of Sydney on Opening Weekend, producing just 22 hits as they averaged 2.5 runs per game.
Adelaide is no stranger to slow starts and bouncing back to make playoffs, but it needs to fire fast in a 40-game season.
Concerningly, not only did the Bite struggle to manufacture hits and runs they did not steal a base in four games against the Blue Sox.
Adelaide’s pitching showed enough positive signs, especially locals Jack O’Loughlin and Greg Mosel, who are set to again be joined by imports Max Beatty and Chris Powell in the rotation against the Aces.
Beatty and Powell will be better for their first ABL experience after tough debuts.
Reliever Loek Van Mil joins the Bite for the first time this season, providing valuable experience in his third ABL stint.
Pitching was an area of concern for Jon Deeble’s Melbourne during a 3-1 series loss to Perth at home.
They gave up 10 home runs to the Heat and were forced to dig deep into their bullpen early in the series.
Ace starter Mark Hamburger even fell to defeat, while Kona Takahashi and Christian Meister lacked control as they picked up losses while lasting less than five innings.
Left-hander Matt Marksberry has been added to the round two roster in a boost for Melbourne, which will roll with the same rotation as Opening Weekend.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
ACES – Brett Cumberland: Cumberland made a bright start to life in Melbourne, going 4-for-14 with a home run. The 22-year-old has made 156 Minor League appearances in the Atlanta Braves’ system the past two seasons.
BITE – Rodrigo Ayarza: The Houston Astros’ prospect hit Adelaide’s only home run on Opening Weekend and finished 5-for-17 in an otherwise meek display by the Bite. The infielder will hope to spark Adelaide’s offence from the top.
Adelaide 3-1. There is no sugar-coating the Bite’s round one performance. They were the worst team to hit the diamond and rookie manager Chris Adamson would be reeling. But a return home to face fierce rivals Melbourne and the disappointment of a series sweep could be the motivation Adelaide needs to bounce back. The Bite offence surely has to find a gear above first. The Aces went 1-7 against Adelaide last season and unless their pitching improves face an uphill battle to change that trend.