The stakes were high in Game 2 of the Australian Baseball League Preliminary Final, and for good reason. After dropping Game 1 on their home turf, the SA Power Networks Adelaide Bite were in a do or die situation. A loss Saturday night meant their ABLCS hopes were extinguished; a win would keep their playoff hopes alive.
In prime playoff fashion, Adelaide delivered. After being sent into extra innings, Adelaide rose to the occasion, plating four runs across the board in the top-of-the-twelfth, ultimately taking Game 2 over the Brisbane Bandits, proudly presented by WellDog, 8-4.
As expected, Adelaide came out with a vengeance. LeDarious Clark drew a four pitch leadoff walk off Kramer Champlin. In the next at-bat, Jordan Cowan stepped to the dish and drove an RBI double to centre field to plate the first run of Game 2. Marcus Greene Jr. continued the first inning rally blasting a two-run home run over the left field wall, extending the Bite's lead, 3-0.
Aaron Whitefield continued the trend, drawing a leadoff walk in the bottom-of-the-first. Trent Oeltjen followed with a single to centre field to advance Whitefield to third base. In the next at-bat, Mitch Nilsson put the Bandits on the board, driving an RBI single to centre field, edging the gap, 3-1.
Brisbane struck right back in the bottom-of-the-second, driving back-to-back solo home runs courtesy of Wade Dutton and Aaron Whitefield. Just like that, the Bandits evened the game at AFA Stadium at Holloway Field, 3-3
Jack O'Loughlin and Kramer Champlin settled in over the next few innings, finding a groove in Game 2 before making their exits in the fifth inning.
The Bandits waited until the bottom-of-the-fifth to strike again, a rally led off by none other than Aaron Whitefield.
The Minnesota Twins prospect was 2-for-5 with three runs and one RBI Saturday night.
The centre fielder dropped a leadoff bunt in the fifth inning, safely taking first base on a throwing error by Stefan Welch. Jordan McArdle then awarded Whitefield second base on an interference error. Two at-bats later, Nilsson grounded out to first base, scoring Whitefield and giving the Bandits the first lead of the game, 4-3.
Brisbane wasn't comfortable for long. In the top-of-the-seventh, Josh Altmann drove a one-out single to centre field. Just two at-bats later, Clark delivered an RBI single to centre field, scoring Altmann and tying the game up yet again, 4-4.
In a postseason twist of fate, both sides couldn't generate anything across the next two innings, ultimately sending Game 2 of the ABLPF into extra innings.
The duos of Matt Timms and Ryan Searle and the Bite combination of Loek van Mil and Zach Cooper carried both teams through extras, with the Bite side getting the best of Searle in the top-of-the-twelfth inning.
Cowan led off the rally with an infield single to Logan Wade, leaving the door open for the best hitter in the ABL: Mitch Dening. The centre fielder belted the go-ahead two-run home run over the centre field wall, retaking the lead at AFA Stadium at Holloway Field, 6-4.
The Bite continued to knock on Searle's door. Back-to-back singles by Marcus Greene Jr. and Stefan Welch put runners into scoring position with no outs. A walk to Jordan McArdle loaded the bases, signaling trouble for the Bandits once again. The Bite crossed two more runners across the plate on a ground ball single and sacrifice fly to left field, pulling away with Game 2, 8-4. Despite getting out of the inning, the damage was done and the Bandits were unable to lift a miracle over the Bite.
The Bandits had their opportunities in Game 2, stranding three base runners in extra inning play, including a two-on, two-out opportunity in the bottom-of-the-tenth.
Ryan Searle suffers his first loss of the season, giving up four runs and seven hits over 2.1 innings pitched. Zach Cooper secures his first win of the season, retiring three Bandits with no hits over two complete innings.
As the series heads to Game 3, Nilsson's spirits remain high.
"We'll regroup. Obviously we would have liked to of finished it today but we'll get back on the bike tomorrow, get after it and hopefully get onto the playoffs," Nilsson said.
Rick Teasley has the deciding Game 3 start of the ABLPF Sunday, the 5th of February at 1:00 p.m. AEST. The game will be live streamed on ABLtv.