Brisbane Bandits Win Third Straight Australian Title

The Bandits have completed a trifecta. After winning their first of three straight championships, beating the Adelaide Bite in 2015/2016, they followed that up by beating the Melbourne Aces. This year they defeated the Canberra Cavalry in a best of three series. Next on their agenda to beat in the finals would be the Perth Heat and/or the Sydney Blue Sox. That would give them five in a row against each ABL team. The Blue Sox may be tough since they are the only ABL team not to appear in the finals since the new format was started back in 2010.

Canberra won the opener 5-1 led by the 6.2 shutout innings from Brian Grening. He got offensive support from Robbie Perkins and David Kandilas, who each hit two run homers. The only run scored by Brisbane was in the ninth on a solo shot by T.J. Bennett. Little did Canberra know this would be the beginning of a trend in the second game.

Game two was not very competitive with Brisbane rolling over Canberra 12-2. Canberra scored both their runs on solo shots by Travis Witherspoon and Boss Moanaroa. Brisbane out muscled them with seven homeruns, Andrew Campbell and Chih-Shih Leng each hitting two homeruns, and Donald Lutz, Mitch Nilsson and David Sutherland each going deep. That is homeruns hit by players from four different countries, United States, Australia, Taiwan and Germany.

Tim Atherton pitched seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out 11 to get the win. Lake Bachar had a rough outing for Canberra. He lasted just two outs into the fourth inning, but five of the seven hits he gave up carried over the fence.

The final game was a bit more competitive. Brisbane scored three early runs on a three run shot from Adam Weisenburger in the second inning to take an early 3-0 lead. They made it 4-0 on a solo shot by Mitch Nilsson in the sixth. The fireworks would begin after that.

The veteran Travis Blackley pitched six innings of one hit ball for Brisbane. When he was removed in the seventh the Cavalry charged. As did the benches, with two bench clearing incidents happening in the sixth. Manager Dave Nilsson and his coach were removed after a caught stealing at second base led to a second benches clearing brawl. The first bench clearing occurred after a hit by pitch immediately following the Nilsson homer in the top of the sixth. The umpire ejecting them was Takahito Matsuda.

Sam Holland only faced one hitter before he was removed, giving up a single to Jay Baum. Ryan Bollinger got Boss Moanaroa to ground out to second. Baum was allowed to advance to second and scored on a throwing error by first baseman David Sutherland when he broke for third. That gave the Cavalry their first run.

In the eighth Kyle Perkins led off the inning with a homerun. Travis Witherspoon added a one out double but he was left stranded at third.

Steven Kent kept Canberra in the game by striking out all six hitters he faced. He also got credit for an out in the bottom of the sixth on a caught stealing attempt that led to the two ejections.

After going through four pitchers to get four outs Brisbane turned to Ryan Searle to finish the game. He retired five of the last six hitters he faced, giving up a two out single in the ninth to Robbie Perkins, but retiring the last hitter (Cameron Warner) to secure the Brisbane Bandits third straight championship.

CPBL Baseball Commissioner Chin-Yang Wu threw out the first pitch in the second game of the ABL championship. The CPBL is looking to expand and there are discussions of putting a team of Australian players in the CPBL as a fifth team.

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