The Australian Baseball League’s plan for expansion continues to develop, while action continues in round 3 of the 2017/18 season
The Australian Baseball League announced on November 12 that the 2017/18 ABL season would be it’s final year as a 6 team competition. Instead, the ABL will look to expand to an 8 team league next year, with invitations open to teams from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball Organization (NPB), Korea’s Korean Baseball Organisation (KBO) and Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL). The announcement also stated an increased focus on regional centers around Australia. From this, it would appear that the two expansion teams would consist of one regionally based team and a team from one of the above listed Asian organisations though this much has not yet been made clear.
More recently, ABL CEO Cam Vale confirmed the league’s interest in entering an Australian Squad into Taiwan’s CPBL. The potential move highlights the ABL’s continued interest in tapping into Asian broadcasting markets – something which Vale identifies as a major component of the league’s long-term plan.
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Vale cites increasing youth participation in the sport and the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics as sources of optimism for expansion.
Round the Horn
A heavily rain affected round 3 saw plenty of change to the standings with the Melbourne Aces rebounding from a rough first round to join the Perth Heat at the top of the tables.
- Canberra came out victorious in a bottom of the table clash at Adelaide taking the series 3 games to 1. It was a dominant showing from the Cavalry, out-scoring their opponents 32-13 including an 18 run outburst in game 1. David Kandilas earned himself Player of the Round honours with a 9-19 showing with 6 RBIs. In 11 games now for the Cavalry, Kandilas is running a 1.205 OPS with 3 home runs. Frank Gailey continued his strong start to the season striking out 6 Bite hitters in 6 innings of work in game 4. Texas Rangers draftee, Stephen Lohr, leads the Bite offense after hitting .583 with a home run for the weekend.
- The Melbourne Aces swept the Brisbane Bandits in 3-0 in a rain shortened series in Melbourne. A series headlined by great pitching there were just 11 runs scored over the three games. The two pitching staffs combined to strike out 57 hitters against just 17 walks. For the Aces, Mark Hamburger, found form after uncharacteristically shaky showings, putting up a complete game shut out in game 1. Brisbane’s Ryan Bollinger and Melbourne’s Josh Tols were also excellent in their outings.
- The Perth Heat swept the Sydney Blue Sox in another rain affected series. Stalwarts Tim Kennelly and Luke Hughes both homered in the series, the duo are now 2nd and 3rd respectively among active ABL home run leaders. New South Wales native, Trent D’Antonio picked up 5 hits and scored 5 times for the Blue Sox.
- The Adelaide Bite will look to get their season back on track when they travel to Perth to take on the Heat. At 2-10 the Bite have some work to do to climb out of the cellar. Perth, meanwhile, will hope to capitalize on the mismatch to separate themselves from Melbourne at the top of the table.
- Brisbane will play host to the Sydney Blue Sox as both clubs look to bounce back from a rough Round 3 and continue their campaigns for top spot.
- Meanwhile, the Aces will find themselves in Canberra this week hoping to continue their hot streak, having posted a league best 7-3 record in their last 10 games. Currently sitting in 4th place but just 1 game out of the top spot, Canberra has an excellent chance to cement it’s place as a contender once again.