Maestri dominant

MAESTRI DOMINANT AGAINST FIRST-PLACE HEAT

The Bandits move into fifth place in the standings with a win in Perth

Brisbane's ace struck out six in Perth on Thursday night

Alex Maestri followed up his Player of the Week performance in Round 8 with another dominant start for the Brisbane Bandits as they took down the first-place ‘Alcohol Think Again’ Perth Heat 6-2 on Thursday night in Round 9 of Australian Baseball League action.

The Italian Stallion took the mound for the second game of the five-game set in Perth, establishing his dominance early and often at Barbagallo Ballpark. Maestri (4-2) followed up his two-hit complete game from last week with six innings of one-run ball against the Heat.

Brisbane’s ace now leads the entire league with 50 2/3 innings pitched on the year. He also added six strikeouts to his season total, giving him 46, good for second in the ABL after Canberra’s Mike McGuire. The right-hander lowered his ERA to 2.66 on the night, mowing down the tough Heat lineup.

Josh Roberts opened the scoring in his first at-bat of the game. Roberts sent a long fly ball over the centre-field wall at Barbagallo Ballpark, a first-inning solo shot, giving him the team lead with four home runs on the season.

Perth responded quickly with a run of its own, as Mitchell Graham got ahold of one in the second inning, taking Brisbane starter Alex Maestri yard, knotting the game at 1-1. Graham’s homer was his eighth of the year, and his 27th RBI on the season.

In the top of the fourth, the Bandits added to their run total. First baseman David Sutherland opened the frame with his sixth double of the season, followed by a single to Wade Dutton. Next batter Matthew Roxburgh grounded into a force out at second base, bringing Sutherland around and giving Brisbane the go-ahead run. With a stolen base and a wild pitch, Roxburgh moved around to third base, giving Steven Greer the opportunity to bring him home on a sacrifice fly, giving the Bandits a 3-1 advantage.

The Bandits put another one on the board in the fifth, courtesy of a Heat throwing error. Leadoff batter Brad Dutton hit a sharp grounder to third, giving Perth’s Mychal Givens trouble as he threw the ball away. The older Dutton brother moved into scoring position on the play, coming around on an RBI-single for Sutherland two batters later.

Heat starter Robert Sorensen managed to get out of the inning, but his day ended there. Sorensen (1-2) threw five innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits with one walk, hitting one batter and striking out two. He was relieved by Todd Murphy out of the bullpen, who couldn’t stop the bleeding. Murphy went three innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits, walking three batters and striking out two.

The hometown team threatened in the sixth, trying to mount a comeback against Maestri and the Bandits. With two outs, the Italian right-hander gave up a single and then issued back-to-back walks to Perth batters, loading the bases. Outside of the home run to Graham, it was the first time Maestri allowed a runner beyond first base in the game. He got out of the jam with just one pitch to the next batter Allan de San Miguel, as he grounded into a force out at third.

Brisbane started a rally of its own in the seventh inning. Roberts opened the frame with his team-leading 12th double of the season. Third baseman Kevin Hoef singled to put runners on the corners, and Sutherland was issued a free pass to load the bases with no outs. Roxburgh plated another run for the Bandits with an RBI-single, keeping the bases juiced. Brisbane catcher Mitch Nilsson singled in the second run of the inning, bringing the visitors ahead 6-1 with one out, but that’s all the Bandits would get as they left the bases loaded to end the inning.

Sean Jarrett came on in relief of Maestri in the seventh inning. Maestri’s line was complete after six innings, allowing one earned run on just four hits with three walks and six strikeouts.

Jarrett’s lone blemish in his three innings of relief was allowing a solo home run to Brenden Webb. Notching his second save of the season with his three frames of work, he gave up just the one run on two hits, notching two strikeouts.

With the win, the Bandits move into sole possession of fifth place, still needing to climb one more spot on the ladder to get past the regular season. Elsewhere in the playoff race, the Cavalry grabbed the fourth position in the standings with their win against Sydney earlier in the day and Melbourne dropped to 12-19 with its loss to the Bite.

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