2017/18 ABL R4 – Canberra v Melbourne
07 Dec 2017 19:00 AEDT
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Game 1 – 7:00pm
Two of the league’s form teams will go head-to-head when Canberra hosts Melbourne starting Thursday night.
The Cavs have won six of their past eight after starting the season 0-3, while the Aces swept Brisbane last weekend and have only dropped one of their previous seven games.
Strong pitching has been a key to the recent success of both ballclubs.
Canberra restricted Adelaide to 13 runs in four games last weekend.
The Cavs have been well served by starters Lake Bachar (0.61 ERA) and Frank Gailey (1.29), while Michael Click and Tyler Herr have both pitched seven scoreless innings in relief.
Melbourne gave up 32 runs in four games on Opening Weekend but have conceded just 15 runs in seven outings since.
Starter Mark Hamburger found form against the Bandits, picking up his first win of the season with a complete game shutout on Friday night.
Kona Takahashi remains winless but has a tidy 2.76 ERA while left-hander Josh Tols has tossed 10 scoreless innings of relief in the past two rounds.
Canberra’s offence has been equally effective and will be further boosted by Boss Moanaroa’s return for this weekend’s series.
The first baseman has hit 5-for-9 with three home runs in three appearances this season.
While, David Kandilas (9-for-19 with six RBI), Buddy Reed (7-for-17) and 17-year-old Gabriel Arias (seven RBI) all had a massive output against the Bite.
The Aces offence has not been as potent, but Tomoya Mori did hit his first ABL home run in round three.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
ACES – Josh Tols: Earmarked as a starter preseason, the left-hander has slipped back into the bullpen and been a force for Melbourne. Tols is 2-0 with an ERA of 2.35 and in 10 relief innings has not allowed a run. He pitched five scoreless innings in the Aces’ game three extra-inning win over Brisbane.
CAVALRY – Steven Kent: The 28-year-old recorded his first win of the season with a strong showing against Adelaide. Kent allowed two runs on five hits in six innings, striking out four. His 18 strikeouts are a team-high.
Cavs 3-1. Both Canberra and Melbourne are in good form but the Cavalry’s offence gives them the edge, along with home advantage. Canberra has scored 69 runs (6.3 per game) compared the Aces’ 42 (3.8 runs per game). As good as Melbourne’s pitching has been the past fortnight, they face a tough task in shutting down all of the Cavs’ weapons.