So, what a series hey.
The Blue Sox certainly know how to do things the hard way. Despite having no less than FIVE chances to score the winning runs in today's epic 15 inning game against the Bite, the Blue Sox just could not get it done. Dae Sung Koo pitched an amazing 6.2 innings in relief, which for someone at the age of 41, whose role is to come in as a closer, is nothing short of legendary. What a man!
And David Welch throwing a no-hitter! Unbelievable.
All up I was lucky enough to watch all 33 innings of baseball this weekend, and it was all high quality. In the end, the Bite were able to execute better when it counted. The Blue Sox failed to successfully lay down bunts a couple of times, whereas the Bite got it done. It was definitely a "pitchers' series", with runs generally hard to come by.
It will be interesting to see how the Final Series between the Heat and the Bite pans out. I think that Perth will be the favourite, and deserve to be, but Adelaide have a lot of momentum now, having won two series in a row, and having been able to turn things around after the enormity of Friday's no hitter. Interestingly the Heat and Bite have a 50/50 split record, with each team taking 2 games from the other in the home series. It would be an incredible effort for the Bite to travel all the way from the East Coast over to the West, and come away with the title. I reckon it is a good bet though, they will be riding high after their last two series.
Some interesting managerial decisions were made by Glenn Williams during the series. He made some changes to the Blue Sox lineup on Friday night in what seemed to be an attempt to get some more pop in the offense. He moved D'Antonio to second base - which has been a bit of an offensive vacuum for the Sox - and brought in Josh Dean at third. He also moved Kandilas up the order. These changes seemed to work, as the Sox piled on the hits. This was of course behind Welch's dominant performance.
It was a little disappointing to see the Williams didn't stick with the same lineup on Saturday night. I am not sure why he didn't. The Sox were facing another righty in Brandon Maurer, and they had been successful on Friday night. Anyways, they couldn't get the bats going and went down.
And today, well what a game. The Sox could have won it a number of times. Perhaps the most heartbreaking occasion was the unbelievable diving catch taken by Brandon Pett to rob Josh Dean of a certain two run, game ending double in the bottom of the 14th.
Reviewing the hitting stats out of the series allows a few interesting conclusions to be drawn:
1. The middle of the Blue Sox order did not get the job done
Between Brendan Kingman, Alex Johnson, Josh Dean and Moko Moanaroa, the Sox only managed to pull together 5 hits from 34 at bats (.147) and one RBI. It is always going to be tough to get the job done when the heart of the order is struggling. This has been a challenge for the Sox for a while now - having Andy Graham and Boss Moanaroa, and with Alex Johnson and Josh Dean being very streaky, it has been hard to have stability in the middle of the lineup. Brendan Kingman was able to be effective in his early games, but as the stakes have risen he was not as reliable, and Moko Moanaroa did not show the same level as comfort as his brother Boss.
Hitting in the three-spot, Mitch Dening had a great series against the Heat, and started well against the Bite. Coming in to today's game he looked ok at 3-for-8 with a double. But his 0-for-7 today hurt, especially when there were runners in scoring position a lot of the time.
Conclusion - Glenn Williams will have 'power hitter(s)' as his number one wish item for next season.
2. The bottom of the Sox order (and Trent D'Antonio at the top) is still reliable
Throughout the regular season, David Kandilas developed into a very strong nine-hitter. Through this series against the Bite, he was joined by Michael Lysaught and Trent D'Antonio as the chief run production area of the Sox lineup. The three went 18-for-39 (.461) and drove in six of the Sox twelve runs for the series.
Conclusion - Kandilas and Lysaught to move up the order next year (assuming they both return to the Sox roster)
3. Errors hurt the Blue Sox
The Blue Sox had 9 errors to the Bite's 1 over the series. The Blue Sox had generally sloppy pre-game routines over this series, and it carried over onto the field. While Lysaught had a sharp bat, he was not at his best in the field. The Bite, and for that matter the Heat last week, appeared to have a tighter defensive unit.
Conclusion - Blue Sox to tighten up their fielding practice for next year.
4. In most hitting categories, the Sox did better
In terms of most hitting categories, the Blue Sox had the Bite covered. Runs, Hits, Average. But, the Bite came away with two victories to one.
Conclusion - timing is everything. The Sox just weren't able to string together their hits at the right time.
Anyways, its all done now. The Bite will take on the Heat for the finals, and the Blue Sox players with either wind down back to club baseball, or head on overseas to their other clubs. Best of luck to the Bite in their series against the Heat. We will be watching keenly.