2017/18 ABL R5 – Canberra v Perth
14 Dec 2017 19:00 AEST
Watch the 2017/18 Australian Baseball League season LIVE on Epicentre.tv.
Game 1 – Thursday, 7:00pm
The league’s two best offensive outfits will square off when Canberra (9-6) hosts Perth (10-5) in a four-game series starting Thursday night.
The Cavs and Heat lead the league in batting average, runs and doubles entering an eight-game home-and-home.
Perth has scored 113 runs and Canberra 111 in 15 games to sit marginally ahead of Brisbane (105 in 14 games).
The Cavs (22) and Heat (23) are also top three for home runs.
For Canberra, Jay Baum (.462 batting average), David Kandilas (.400 with a league-high 20 RBI) and Buddy Reed (.317) have been standouts.
Tampa Bay prospect Michael Brosseau leads Perth with a .439 average and is tied with Kandilas on 20 RBIs.
Jake Fraley, Tim Kennelly and Zacrey Law have also put up solid numbers to help the Heat to a 10-5 record, behind only Brisbane.
Fraley has collected 16 stolen bases in the opening four rounds, 10 more than second-ranked Aaron Whitefield.
While the offences for both teams have impressed, the Cavs’ pitching has clearly been better.
Canberra leads the league with an ERA of 3.91.
Starters Lake Bachar and Frank Gailey have been standouts while reliver Michael Click has not given up a run in 8.2 innings while recording three wins.
Brian Grening picked up his first win last weekend and has three no decisions.
The Heat’s ERA is fourth best.
Alex Boshers (1-1, 3.05 ERA) has led the rotation well and Cameron Lamb (1-0, 1.69) and Daniel Schmidt (1-0, 1.93) have been solid out of the bullpen.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
HEAT – Tom Bailey: The pressure has been taken off the 25-year-old after moving from a game one start last season to a game four role most of this season. Bailey is 3-0 with an ERA of 6.88. He has also allowed just one homer in four outings after giving up 10 in 10 appearances a season ago.
CAVALRY – Jay Baum: The former Seattle Mariners prospect has made a strong start to the ABL campaign, leading the league with a batting average of .462 in 10 games. Baum went 7-for-16 with four RBIs against Melbourne in round four.
Cavs 3-1. Canberra’s pitching stands a better chance of slowing down the Perth offence than the Heat does the Cavs’ hot-hitters. The hosts lead the league with an ERA of 3.91 and have been well serviced by starters Brian Grening, Steven Kent, Lake Bachar and Frank Gailey. Canberra’s bullpen has also put up respectable numbers following a couple of early-season hiccups. As strong as the Perth offence has been, they will need more consistent pitching.