2017/18 ABL R3 – Melbourne v Brisbane
01 Dec 2017 19:00 AEDT
Watch the 2017/18 Australian Baseball League season LIVE on Epicentre.tv.
Game 1 – 7:o0pm
Melbourne gets a shot at redemption when it hosts Brisbane in a rematch of last season’s ABL Championship Series.
The Bandits head to Melbourne Ballpark as hot as they were nine months ago after winning six of seven to open the season and scoring a team-record 47 runs in their series against Perth in round two.
The Aces will aim to slow Brisbane’s offence and will take confidence from last weekend’s 3-1 series win over Adelaide.
Melbourne kept the Bite to 12 runs – shutting them out in game two and four – as they recorded a maiden series win in Adelaide.
The Aces’ pitching will also be bolstered by the return of Jon Kennedy, leaving Josh Tols to anchor the bullpen and Hei Chun Lee to figure in relief after starting game two in Adelaide.
Outfielder Tyler Neslony will also make his Melbourne debut.
Brisbane brings the league’s best offence to Melbourne.
The Bandits are averaging 9.3 runs per game this season and leads the league with a batting average of .317.
Brisbane’s starting rotation has also been strong, with the only real concern the fourth slot.
Ryan Bollinger has been tidy without picking up a win, Travis Blackley was much stronger in his second outing and Tim Atherton has been almost untouchable.
But in game four last weekend, Justin Erasmus struggled.
David Sutherland returns to the batting line-up for Brisbane.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
BANDITS – Mitch Nilsson: The 26-year-old infielder has made a hot start to the ABL season after spending the winter in Germany. Last round Nilsson went 9-for-17 with three homers and 12 RBI. Across the season he is hitting .577.
ACES – Jon Kennedy: The left-hander fronts for Melbourne for the first time this season. He played 39 games during the Minor League season, finishing with a 5-2 record and 2.87 ERA. Last ABL season he had a 3.86 ERA in 11 appearances, including seven starts.
Bandits 3-1. Visiting Perth’s offence lit up Melbourne Ballpark a fortnight ago and Brisbane’s could do much the same. While the Aces have bolstered their pitching stocks, the Bandits’ hitters are in dominant form. With three of their four starting pitchers impressing so far and Melbourne ace Mark Hamburger not quite reproducing his 2016 form, it is hard to look past a Brisbane series win.