2018/19 ABL R4 – Auckland v Sydney
08 Dec 2018 13:00 AEST
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A series win for either Sydney or Auckland in Round 4 of the Brut Australian Baseball League will propel one team into playoff contention in the ultra-competitive North-East Division.
A series loss however, could see one team scrambling to catch-up in the second half of the season.
Sydney (6-6), come into this week after a hard-fought series against the defending champion Bandits.
Despite only claiming one win from their four-game set against Brisbane, the Blue Sox were competitive in all four matchups, and almost pulled off the impossible on Sunday afternoon.
Gift Ngoepe and Dwayne Kemp homered off the flamethrowing Bandits closer Loek van Mil, sending game four of the series to extra innings. However they were undone by clutch performances from Andrew Campbell and Justin Erasmus as Brisbane claimed a walkoff win.
The Blue Sox have made one change for their trip to Auckland, with Rixon Wingrove replacing Dean Aldridge.
After a dominant opening weekend performance against Geelong-Korea, Sydney have spluttered, only claiming two wins from their last eight games. Their next task looms large against an Auckland side who are starting to get it together.
The Tuatara (4-7) have taken some significant steps forward since an opening weekend sweep against Perth, claiming four wins from seven games against divisional rivals Brisbane and Canberra.
The Auckland faithful will get their final chance to support the Tuatara at McLeod Park this weekend, and hopes are high for improved performances.
A back-and-forth matchup against the Cavalry proved the Tuatara could match it, as they split with last year’s runners-up after a Sunday special from Josh Collmenter.
The former big leaguer anchored Auckland’s 9-1 victory, allowing only one run in 5.1 innings of work.
Adding to the excitement is the return of 31-year-old John Holdzkom, who has spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The 206cm righty has had stints in Canberra and Adelaide, before making his MLB debut in 2014.
Beau Bishop returns to the fold for Auckland, as does Uni-Lions infielder Tsai Yi-hsuan.