BRISBANE, QLD -- There was a point in the year when the chances seemed slim that the Brisbane Bandits, proudly presented by WellDog, would make the playoffs. Now, they're headed back to the championship series, after defeating the SA Power Networks Adelaide Bite 2-1 in the Australian Baseball League Preliminary Final presented by Ladbrokes.
The Bandits advance to the 2017 ABL Championship Series presented by Boral, where they'll defend their Claxton Shield title against the 2017 Minor Premiers, the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces.
Here's a look back at the exciting three games from last weekend, and how the Bandits beat the Bite.
Hosting Game 1, the Bite struck first, putting one run on the board on Jordan Cowan's RBI triple in the bottom of the sixth inning. But in the top of the eighth, the Bandits responded by tying the game on an error and taking the lead on former Major Leaguer Trent Oeltjen's two-run double.
Closer Ryan Searle continued his run of postseason dominance, striking out three batters in a two-inning save to end the game in Brisbane's favour.
Adelaide needed 12 innings to keep their playoff hopes alive as the series shifted to Brisbane for Game 2. The Bite struck early, with three runs in the opening frame, but the Bandits had the score knotted at 3-3 by the end of the second inning. Brisbane took the lead in the bottom of the fifth on Mitch Nilsson's RBI groundout, but Adelaide responded by tying it again on a LeDarious Clark RBI single in the top of the seventh.
Team Australia slugger Mitch Dening won the ballgame for the Bite, clubbing a two-run blast in the top of the 12th that powered Adelaide to an 8-4 win and forced the deciding Game 3.
A close game quickly turned into a slugfest of double-digit proportions in Game 3. The game sat as a scoreless pitcher's duel until the Bandits got on the board in the fourth on Oeltjen's leadoff solo shot. The Bite responded with a run in the top of the next frame, but the tie didn't last long. Of Brisbane's seven bombs hit over the course of the afternoon, Ryan Battaglia's first homer of the day was one of the most important because it gave the Bandits back the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Brisbane went on to score two runs in the sixth, six in the seventh, and landed an eight-spot on the board in the bottom of the eighth inning en route to an 18-2 rout and 2-1 series win.