2018/19 ABL R1 – Brisbane v Adelaide
15 Nov 2018 19:00 AEDT
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Brisbane will start its quest for a fourth-straight Brut Australian Baseball League crown at home to Adelaide on Thursday night.
The Bandits enter the new season as many fans’ favourite for the 2019 Claxton Shield, but they will have to be wary of a Bite outfit aiming to bounce back after a sixth-place finish.
Brisbane has retained most of its championship winning roster from last season, including home run leaders Donald Lutz and T.J. Bennett along with 2018 ABL Championship Series MVP Tim Atherton.
They have, however, lost 2017 Helms Award winner Aaron Whitefield to Adelaide.
While Lin Chih-sheng has been replaced at third base by Hsu Chi-hung.
Closer Loek van Mil crosses from the Bite, freeing up Ryan Searle to return to the starting rotation for the first time since January 2015 at ABL level.
Searle is expected to round out an all-Aussie rotation for the Bandits on Opening Weekend.
Manager David Nilsson signalled his intention to use four locals when he gave Searle, Atherton, Sam Holland and Travis Blackley longer outings in last weekend’s preseason series against Auckland.
Lin Ko-chien started game three against the Tuatara but is expected to work out of the bullpen, which will include left-hander Ryan Bollinger, this weekend.
Brisbane will not be able to take Adelaide lightly on Opening Weekend.
The Bite endured a tough 2017/18 season, winning just 11 games under rookie manager Chris Adamson.
But they have reloaded for the new campaign.
In addition to Whitefield, Adelaide has added talented imports Michael Gettys and Nick Shumpert and regained infielder Stefan Welch after a year out of the ABL.
Adamson also has a bolstered pitching staff to rely on, including likely Opening Night starter Kurt Heyer and late-innings option Ryan Chaffee.
The Bite lost six-straight to start last season and with a young core will be aiming to get some early wins under their belt, starting against the Bandits.