Bandits suffer tough loss


Kenta Imamiya applies the tag on James McOwen.

New found ace Alex Maestri drops first ABL game

The Brisbane Bandits returned to the familiar confines of the RNA Showgrounds on Thursday night to face ABL leaders the Perth Heat in the first contest of a four game Round Six Australian Baseball League series. Perth came to town with a 12-3 win-loss record in spite of dropping three games recently against Canberra whereas the Bandits have suffered on the road and came home with a 7-10 record.The Perth Heat pitching staff out gunned Brisbane Bandit hurlers for a 3-2 win at the RNA Showgrounds in Brisbane on Thursday night.

The night started with Alex Maestri on the mound for Brisbane facing Perth’s Daniel Schmidt.

Perth leadoff hitter Jamie McOwen doubled to left center field in the opening at bat of the night and advanced to third on a fielder’s choice ground out up the middle before scoring on a single to center field by Alex Burg. Maestri nabbed a liner from Heat catcher Allan de San Miguel and quickly threw to first base to double off Burg and end the threat. Schmidt retired the Bandits in order to finish the first inning with Perth leading 1-0.

Maestri started the second inning brilliantly, striking out the first two hitters before Perth first baseman Aaron Baker stroked a home run to deep right field. Next batter Mychal Givens was Maestri’s third strike out victim for the inning as the Brisbane hurler finished off the inning with no further damage done. Schmidt gave up a walk to Rory Rhodes but was otherwise unscathed in getting through the bottom of the inning. After two innings the Perth Heat led the Brisbane Bandits 2-0.

Brenden Webb hit a towering home run to right field for the Heat in the top of the third extending the Perth lead to 3-0. Maestri walked next batter McOwen before getting Tim Kennelly to fly out. McOwen then proceeded to steal second and third base while de San Miguel drew a walk before Maestri struck out Mitchell Graham to end the threat. In the bottom of the third, catcher Ayatsugu Yamashita was hit by a pitch and advanced on a single by Matt Roxburgh before Schmidt settled to keep the Bandits at bay. After three the score board saw Perth in front 3-0.

Alex Maestri showed why he is one of the top pitchers in the league retiring Perth with little trouble in the top of the fourth. The story was similar in the bottom of the inning as only a walk to Rory Rhodes troubled Schmidt. After four innings the score remained 3-0 in favour of the West Australians.

The Perth bats were quiet in the top of the fifth as the side was retired in order. In the bottom of the inning, Keji Nakahara went all the way to second base on an error by the Heat catcher to lead off the inning and after Yamashita struck out, Kenta Imamiya drove a single into center field scoring Nakahara and advancing to second base on the throw to home plate. Matt Roxburgh went down on strikes but next up Josh Roberts hit a line drive single to left field plating Imamiya before being thrown out trying to advance to second base on the play. At the end of the fifth inning, Brisbane had cut the Perth lead down to one run. After five the Perth Heat held a slim 3-2 lead.

After Alex Burg reached on an error to start the sixth inning, Maestri settled to get through the rest of the inning with no further damage done. The Bandits came to life through Perth errors in the bottom of the inning when Brad Dutton reached on a fielding error and advanced on a throwing error when next hitter David Sutherland beat the throw to first base on a routine grounder. That spelled the end for Schmidt with Perth bringing Cameron Lamb on in relief. Lamb got the next batter out to end the threat for the Heat. After six innings the score remained 3-2 in favour of the Perth side.

In the top of the seventh Aaron Baker doubled to center field to start things off for the visitors but was out at third base on a fielder’s choice by Givens. At that point, Chris Lamb was brought in to relieve Maestri. Lamb walked Brenden Webb putting runners on first and second. The next Heat batter McOwen smacked a sharp single to left field loading the bases prompting Bandits skipper to make another change, bringing Sean Jarrett into the fray. Jarrett struck out the next two batters to squash the threat. The Bandits could not muster a threat in the bottom of the inning leaving the score at 3-2 Perth’s way after six innings.

Both pitchers held steady and the remaining three innings went by with no further scoring giving the Perth Heat a hard fought 3-2 win.

Daniel Schmidt grabbed the win for Perth pitching 5.2 strong innings. Cameron Lamb pitched 3.1 hitless innings on his way to the save. Alex Maestri suffered his first loss of the season in spite of pitching 6.1 strong innings and striking out nine Heat batters. Jarrett pitched 2.2 stellar innings striking out four to keep the Bandits in the game until the end.

The Heat charge was led by McOwen who went 2-3 with a double, run scored and two stolen bases. Aaron Baker had a 2-4 performance featuring a home run and Brenden Webb added another homer for the visitors.

Kenta Imamiya, Matt Roxburgh and Josh Roberts collected the only three hits for Brisbane with Imamiya and Roberts driving in the two Bandit runs.

“We battled tonight,” said Bandits head coach Kevin Jordan. “We were down one run, we had a couple opportunities to tie the ball game and we couldn’t finish. But they’re the defending champions for a reason. I think we proved tonight that we’re not afraid to go toe-to-toe with them though.”

Prior to the game today, the Bandits announced that due to adverse weather predictions the scheduled game for 2pm Saturday 10 December will be moved to 6pm Friday 9 December.

Due to the start time of the game; both games of the double header will be rescheduled to be 7 inning games.

On Saturday night, the Bandits will team up with the Super Rugby Champion Queensland Reds for their annual ‘Ballpark Buster’ with a portion of all proceeds from the night will go towards the RBWH Foundation. In addition, they will host a visit from the Reds and a free fireworks show after game.

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