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Old 09-09-2017, 10:58 PM   #721
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2062 Season Leaderboards

2062 Season Leaderboards

By dint of his postseason play, Mario Correa was the fan favourite to win the Jorge Diaz Award (some players had taken to calling it the Hoodie, and the nickname was catching on).

Even though Barry Dean was streets ahead of anybody else in the WAR department, and once again led the league in strikeouts and FIP, the pre-Awards murmurs had Clint Kline taking home his second Hottie (HotY).
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Old 09-20-2017, 07:15 PM   #722
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2062 Awards

2062 Awards

Gold Gloves

Pitcher: Cody Watts (Sydney Blue Sox)
Catcher: José Ojeda (Sydney Blue Sox)
First Baseman: Luigi Dempster (Perth Heat)
Second Baseman: Ethan Rafferty (Hobart Prospects)
Third Baseman: Yoshihito Morimoto (Central Coast Thunder)
Shortstop: Stéphane Lecomte (Cairns Crocs)
Left Fielder: Martin Boston (Sydney Blue Sox)
Centre Fielder: Edgardo Rico (Whangarei Sluggers)
Right Fielder: Nathan Kapuna (Newcastle Roos)

Brodie Backhouse Award

50-save man Isaac Canavan was a walk-in for this award. Wasn’t he?

He was not. Instead, 26 y/o Diggers’ closer Rod Bacon (11-7, 44 sv, 2.62 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 1.32 WHIP, 1.7 WAR, 178 ERA+, 67 FIP-) had his name read out, and spent a couple moments looking shocked before taking to the podium to accept his trophy. Bacon threw 82.1 innings across 76 games in 2062, striking out 88 while only walking 33.

Isaac Canavan (5-6, 50 sv, 3.28 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, 120 Ks in 74.0 IP) came 2nd, while Blue Sox reliever Cameron Dickinson (9-4, 8 sv, 2.37 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 1.39 WHIP) was adjudged 3rd-best.

When asked after the ceremony how he felt about his runners-up medal, Canavan said, “Yeah, I was a bit surprised to be honest, but that’s baseball I guess.”

Super Slugger Awards

C: Kent Okolita - DAR - .285/.402/.493, 127-446, 78 runs, 19 doubles, 1 triple, 24HR, 95RBI, 85BB, 542PA, 5.4 WAR, 134 OPS+, 135 wRC+

1B: Richard Moore - ADE - .331/.432/.533, 206-623, 120 runs, 28 doubles, 1 triple, 32HR, 128RBI, 117BB, 753PA, 5.7 WAR, 151 OPS+, 151 wRC+

2B: Mario Correa - CAI - .304/.342/.574, 184-606, 109 runs, 36 doubles, 1 triple, 42HR, 137RBI, 39BB, 1SB, 661PA, 6.1 WAR, 135 OPS+, 131 wRC+

3B: Sebastian Horton - MEL - .296/.350/.535, 182-615, 90 runs, 30 doubles, 6 triples, 35HR, 99RBI, 44BB, 10SB, 671PA, 5.9 WAR, 128 OPS+, 127 wRC+

SS: Nathaniel Bowden - CAN - .312/.369/.503, 168-539, 79 runs, 43 doubles, 3 triples, 18HR, 95RBI, 37BB, 12SB, 598PA, 4.3 WAR, 126 OPS+, 126 wRC+

LF: Tomas Zartuche - ADE - .346/.387/.483, 227-656, 122 runs, 26 doubles, 14 triples, 12HR, 81RBI, 37BB, 45SB, 714PA, 4.0 WAR, 127 OPS+, 128 wRC+

CF: Gordon Ladds - HOB - .289/.390/.494, 152-526, 85 runs, 16 doubles, 10 triples, 24HR, 83RBI, 70BB, 30SB, 620PA, 4.5 WAR, 130 OPS+, 136 wRC+

RF: Neil Bellett - CAN - .304/.406/.595, 153-504, 109 runs, 19 doubles, 1 triple, 42HR, 95RBI, 90BB, 2SB, 599PA, 5.8 WAR, 158 OPS+, 157 wRC+

DH: Ronald Aitken - CAI - .298/.420/.540, 176-591, 115 runs, 31 doubles, 2 triples, 36HR, 107RBI, 117BB, 725PA, 4.7 WAR, 150 OPS+, 144 wRC+

Rookie of the Year

31 y/o Sebastian Horton impressed enough in his debut AUNZBL season to take home RotY. He hit .296/.350/.535 with 30 doubles, 6 triples, and 35HR across 155 games, racking up a 5.9 WAR and a 128 OPS+. How did the AUNZBL rate next to the ABC, in his opinion?

“Definitely tougher,” he said, “which probably feels like an odd thing for me to say after I hit 5 more home runs this year than I did last year in the ABC. But while the mounds here are lower, the pitchers are better so you’ve got to be more patient looking for those mistakes. What the lower mounds do mean, I reckon, is that when those mistakes are made we’ve got an extra fraction of a second to spot them and crush them.”

22 y/o Darwin CF Cain Whalley (.328/.387/.496, 12 triples, 8HR, 27SB, 4.2 WAR, 130 OPS+) took out silver, while 25 y/o Li Hayes (.337/.370/.530, 23 doubles, 12HR from 365PA, 2.8 WAR, 132 OPS+), who’d pushed Norm Donaldson out of the Adelaide line-up, came away with bronze.

Skipper of the Year

Luis Gonzalez was awarded Skipper of the Year for the 4th year running. 58 y/o Gonzalez assured all present at the Awards Dinner, “I’ve got a few good years left in me yet!”

Hurler of the Year

The pre-Awards chatter was on the money. Clint Kline took home his 2nd Hottie thanks to an impressive 19-5 effort from 33 starts. He had a league-leading 2.82 ERA, a 3.48 FIP, and a 1.09 WHIP. He threw 213.2 innings, fanning 151 along the way, to post a 6.0 WAR, a 165 ERA+ and a 74 FIP-.

When asked about why he’d performed so much better this season than the last 2, especially considering he was now primarily only using 2 pitches, he responded, “Well, that’s just it, I think. My coaches have been telling me I need to throw smarter. I’ve always been a ‘paint-the-corners’ guy but I guess the last couple years I've been painting the corners with easy pitches too much. So I decided to throw to my strengths and also try to set guys up over a whole at-bat rather than just one pitch at a time.”

The peerless Barry Dean (15-10, 3.42 ERA, 2.77 FIP, 1.17 WHIP, 9.0 WAR, 136 ERA+, 60 FIP-) came runner-up for the 2nd year running, while Greg Ahern (18-10, 3.48 ERA, 3.92 FIP, 1.10 WHIP, 5.2 WAR, 134 ERA+, 84 FIP-) danced his way onto the podium for the 1st time.

Jorge Diaz Award

In the lead up to Awards Night, nobody had been quite sure who would win the Hoodie. There were strong cases for Mario Correa, Neil Bellett, Norm Blume, with some even talking up Cowboys’ OF Kelvin Pickhills.

A name that seemed to have slipped everybody’s minds was last year’s winner, Richard Moore. Everybody except the judges, that is. But when his name was read out as winner of this season’s award, nobody appeared shocked. Instead there were lots of nods and murmurings along the lines of ‘Oh yeah, that makes sense,’ or ‘Why weren’t we talking about him?’

Moore hit .331/.432/.533, with 32HR from a league-leading 753PA. He accumulated a 5.7 WAR and a 151 OPS+ as well as topping the league in walks with 117 (tied with Ronald Aitken).

2nd-place Mario Correa (.304/.342/.574, 42HR, 6.1 WAR, 135 OPS+) probably wasn’t that unlucky to miss out, while if Neil Bellet (.304/.406/.595, 42HR, 5.8 WAR, 158 OPS+) hadn’t hurt himself early in March he might’ve had a chance at the top spot despite playing in an awful team.
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Old 09-20-2017, 07:32 PM   #723
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2062 Career Leaderboards

2062 Career Leaderboards

39 y/o Marcos Lopez had 1 year left to run on his Blue Sox contract and was still a decent hitter, playing in all 162 regular season games while collecting 194 hits at a .298 clip, his slugging percentage a healthy .499. If he could keep that up in 2063 he'd easily become the 5th-ever batter to reach the 3000 hits mark.

Hayes, Lopez and Auger were all new entrants on the HR top 10.

Could 38 y/o Lance Ralston make it to 200 wins? While most hoped yes, realistically most said no.
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Old 10-01-2017, 12:10 AM   #724
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2062 Notes

ERA equalled the record set in 2061, of 4.66, while BA reached a new all-time high of .272.

The Blue Sox set a new attendance record, with over 4.8 million fans streaming through their gates in 2062.

The Venom’s BA of .297 and OBP of .371 were good enough for 3rd-best all-time, while the 1009 runs they scored was only 1 short of the 1010 the Metros scored in 2045. The Venom were only the 2nd team to score more than 1000 runs in a season. Their 1722 hits also set a new 2nd-best mark.

Hobart hit 50 triples, 3rd-best in a season ever.

Kununurra crunched 252 home runs, 3rd-best all-time.

ABC Wrap-up

Alice Springs, Melbourne, Perth and Jakarta contested the ABC postseason. Alice Springs had come from behind to beat Brisbane for the Northern Division flag, sweeping the 3-game series the two had played to end the regular season to win the division by a single game.

The 74-88 Perth Sharks played the 101-61 Melbourne Victory, with Victory OF Alastair Gallard joking that the “integrity of the league is on the line. If we get beat by a team that only won 46% of their 162 regular season games, then there’ll probably be some sort of inquiry.”

While most of Melbourne’s fan base, and probably a good proportion of the playing group, thought this series would be a walkover, Perth were determined to prove otherwise. The Victory took the 1st game 3-1, but Perth shut them out the next day, winning 5-0. The 2 teams then headed to Perth, where Melbourne took a 2-1 series lead thanks to a combined 3-0 shutout. Game 4 looked to be Melbourne’s also, but the Sharks battled back to tie the game in the 8th before walking off 9-8 winners in the 10th. Game 5 was straight out of the underdog fairytale book, and left the defending champion Victory fuming, skipper Rino Alisjahbana as close to blowing a gasket in the postmatch presser as anybody had ever seen. Perth scored 2 in the top of the 1st, Melbourne tying the game up by the 5th. An error in the top of the 6th saw Perth’s leadoff hitter aboard at 2B, and an out later he scored the go-ahead run. The Sharks then survived some nervous moments, most notably the final out of the game, a fly that carried all the way to the wall (a runner on 1B) before being snatched out of the air by CF and former AUNZBLer Barry Budd. Perth were off to the Grand Final series!

The 91-71 Alice Springs Opals took on the 91-71 Jakarta Stars in the other semi, the Opals easing to a 3-1 victory.

Perth couldn’t continue the fairytale, however, getting whopped 4-nothing by the Opals, who demonstrated their dominance in the 9th inning of Game 4, sending 14 hitters to the plate while scoring 9 runs, eventually winning by the score of 16-2. This was Alice Springs’ first Grand Final win, and their first playoff appearance since the ABC’s inaugural 2058 season.

28 y/o Christos Spargo (.297/.354/.498, 23HR), who’d moved across to the Capitals from the Fury, took out the Golden Rookie Award.

Despite suffering a SEI in February, 33 y/o Satya Susanti (19-3, 2.08 ERA, 2.36 FIP, 1.03 WHIP), who was coming up for free agency, took out the Golden Arm Award for the 2nd time. Injury was all that kept Susanti from earning a pitching Triple Crown, Bradley Boston sneaking past him to finish the season with 20 wins. 30 y/o Warren Gray, who’d moved to the ABC from the AUNZBL after a 5-14, 6.95 ERA 2061, redeemed himself somewhat, coming runner-up to Susanti after finishing with a 17-10, 2.80 ERA season.

32 y/o Si-xun Qiao (.274/.362/.563, 48HR) took out the Golden Bat Award.

BL Wrap-up

Juarez and Belo Horizonte won their divisions, Maracaibo and Santiago picking up the wildcards. Juarez had to go to a 1-game playoff to edge Havana, neither team better than .500.

Santiago ousted Juarez from the playoffs in one semi-final, while Belo Horizonte accounted for Maracaibo in the other.

The Serie de Campeonato was won by Belo-Horizonte, their skipper joking about how the Spanish-titled league had been won for the 3rd time by a team based in a non-Spanish speaking country and filled primarily with players who spoke English. The Super-Herois won the series 4-2, 1B Rick Clohessy slugging 3 dingers to go with his league-leading 28 during the regular season.

29 y/o Alfredo Colon (.270/.382/.431, 13HR) had been drafted by Lima in 2055 but never made it to the BL before being released at the end of the 2058 season. He journeyed north, signing with Olympia, winning the NABA rookie award in 2061 as well as being part of the NABA Cup winning teams of 2060 and 2062. He was now back in the BL, playing for Maracaibo, and found himself winning the second rookie award of his career, taking out Novato del Ano.

Juarez’s Christos Goddard (15-3, 1.93 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 0.98 WHIP, 142 strikeouts) sizzled in 2062 on his way to Jarra de Ano, winning the Pitching Triple Crown, as well as sporting the best WAR (5.1), and WHIP, and throwing the most innings (177.0). After 5 seasons in the BL the 6’8” behemoth had a 51-38 career record.

26 y/o Justo Plvora (.329/.459//.482, 11HR) was getting plenty of buzz in BL circles, with many fans predicting he’d slot right into the AUNZBL once he’d finished his contract with Georgetown. He was locked in for next season, but had a player option for 2064 which he would almost certainly exercise. He had a breakout 2062, his previous 2 seasons hinting at his potential without realizing it. A patient hitter who would happily foul off pitches until he got one he liked, Plvora didn’t have excess power but still managed to collect 36 extra-base hits across the season. He was the BL’s 2062 Bateador de Ano.

League News

Angelo Spear (222-168, 4.06 ERA, 4.05 FIP, 1.24 WHIP) had already announced his intention to retire during the season, and duly did so at its conclusion, pulling on an OotPB TV blazer as a sideline commentator.

38 y/o Rhett Thurley (77-64, 355 sv, 2.99 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 1.18 WHIP) also hung up the cleats at season’s end.

40 y/o Jay Cummins, who’d spent the last 2 seasons throwing relief in the ABC, was another player to call time.

Notable Club Happenings

Cairns: 61 y/o skipper Carlos Sosa, who’d skippered the team for 8 years, announced his retirement, citing a “lack of energy but certainly not a lack of passion.” He finished with an 873-748 record, including seeing Brisbane to a 112-50 record in 2053, still the 2nd-best of all-time. While he’d never won a ring as a manager, he had as a bench coach, helping the Prospects to success in 2042 and 2045, and seeing Brisbane three-peat between 2049-2051. However, he felt his time in Cairns had been the highlight of his career. “When I started here we were a sorry mess,” he said, “and during my first 2 seasons as manager we continued that way. But the club and Julio* stuck by me and I’m glad they did because I feel we’ve created something very special here.” He would be replaced by 61 y/o Raul Guerra, who’d been BC the last 3 seasons.

*Julio Sousa, Crocs’ GM

Canberra: In the wake of yet another disappointing season, the chairman of Capital Holdings, Canberra’s owner organization, made moves, sending 5-year GM Stephen Goodwin and 1st-year manager Adilaksmana Mahanthappa out the door. Goodwin told press, “This wasn’t unexpected, for sure, in fact, I’ve had my office packed for half the season, but it still hurts.” Mahanthappa had been lured over from the ABC, where he’d skippered Jakarta to 2 Grand Final victories and 4 playoff appearances in 4 years in charge. He was not as philosophical as Goodwin, saying, “I feel pretty hard done by, to be honest. I get the team for one season, in my opinion a worse team than the one that only won 58 games the season before. I lead them to a better record by 13 games and outline very clearly to both GM and the ownership group how we need to progress forward. They thank me for my, as they called, ‘exciting vision’ and two weeks later I’m out on my kester. What do you think of that?”

Central Coast: The Central Coast organization was sometimes referred to as ‘ruthless’ due to the way they had no compunction moving or demoting players if they felt they were nearing the downhill side of their careers, even if they were fan favourites. That ruthlessness apparently emanated from the owner’s office, as 4-year GM Balamitra Mukundan, who’d never seen the Thunder miss the playoffs while he was in charge of assembling the team but hadn’t brought home a ring, wasn’t given a contract extension. 60 y/o Mukundan said, “Disappointed, sure, but I’ve been in business long enough to not let these things get to me. I’d still like to work as a general manager, so any owners out there looking, feel free to contact me.”

Hobart: Hobart were beyond awful in 2062, and owner Arbur Mekville responded by firing both GM and skipper. 54 y/o Charles Dethridge had helped the Prospects reach the postseason twice in his 5-year tenure in the upper office. 60 y/o Kelly had managed the team for just 1 season.

Kununurra: 39 y/o Kununurra GM Phil Duff said at the outset of the season that he had “high expectations” for 2062. After all, he continued, the team had reached the playoffs his first 2 years in charge and the squad looked “even better this year.” Sadly, Kununurra slumped to a 75-87 record, finishing the season 19 games behind winners Central Coast. On the first day of the offseason Duff asserted his authority, firing 5-year skipper Cameron Hutcheon. 55 y/o Hutcheon couldn’t be reached for comment but an anonymous source within the organization said, “He’ll have another job before long. He’s good oil, that bloke.” 61 y/o bench coach Allen Stretton was promoted to manager.

Melbourne: 47 y/o GM Rory Ollson got his marching orders.

Newcastle: Fill-in skipper Nathan Woodger might’ve felt he’d done enough in his 93 games in charge to justify a proper go, but GM Mitchell Franks obviously felt differently. “No hard feelings,” 43 y/o Woodger said, “I was just glad of the opportunity.”

Perth: GM Jordan Hurlson retired.

Sydney: 61 y/o manager Joe Lane retired. Sydney were the only team he’d skippered, and he’d led the team to an overall 615-519 record during his 7 years in charge. The Blue Sox had made the playoffs 5 times during his tenure but hadn’t been able to nab a Championship.

Whangarei: The Sluggers parted ways with long-time skipper Peter Massingham. The 61 y/o had been in the role since 2051 which, probably not coincidentally, had been the only season he’d achieved a winning record.

Notable Free Agent Signings/Player Contract Extensions

28 Mar: While the Division Finals were in full swing, Adelaide announced that 30 y/o RHP Rafael Hurlson (44-37, 5.50 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 1.60 WHIP) had signed a 4-year extension. Hurlson would’ve been eligible for free agency after the 2063 season, and while his numbers didn’t look all that great, 2062 was the 1st season he’d been given a full campaign in the rotation. He’d gone 11-9, with a 4.97 ERA, 4.37 FIP, and 1.53 WHIP. Not startlingly good, but enough for the Venom to extend him. Hurlson relied on his fastball, but had an okay curve and slider to complement it, as well as a poor changeup.

2 Apr: Just to make sure nobody forgot they were about to participate in the postseason, Adelaide announced another signing. This time it was 35 y/o Gary Young (.289/.360/.536, 384HR), who’d signed a 3-year extension, for “significantly” less than his previous contract, according to his agent. Still, Young was happy to stay with Adelaide, who’d drafted him as the #2 overall pick in 2046, and with whom he’d racked up well over 12 years of major-league service time. Known as an injury-prone player, Young had only twice in 12 full seasons missed the 502PA mark (2054 - 159; 2059 - 450).

3 Apr: Kununurra extended 33 y/o 3B Al Ayliffe (.262/.327/.437, 223HR) for another 2 seasons.

24 Apr: Central Coast extended 27 y/o Miguel Ibanez (.236/.293/.452, 76HR) for 5 years. Injury-prone Ibanez had only accumulated just over 3 1/2 years of ML service time, despite making his big-league debut as a 21 y/o in the 2057 season. He’d played 93 games in 2062, 38 for Adelaide and 55 for the Thunder.

24 Apr: 28 y/o Stephen Lawless (15-21, 4.29 ERA, 4.33 FIP, 1.38 WHIP) signed a contract extension with Canberra for 4 years. 2062 had been ‘Fat Cat’s’ first full year in the rotation, and he’d finished up with an 8-15 record, an ERA of 5.50, an FIP of 4.53, and a WHIP of 1.55.

14 May: Free agent filing day in the AUNZBL. The ABC players eligible for free agency had already filed the previous week but there had been no significant signing news on that front as everybody waited to dip their toes in the AUNZBL fray.

The top 5 free agents this year, according to OotPB TV, were:

33 y/o SP Satya Susanti (ABC)
25 y/o SS Stephane Lecomte
33 y/o SP Marty Okolita
29 y/o SP Robinson Saldana
30 y/o RF Achaius Muljana (ABC)

Other free agents included:

30 y/o C Rowan Kimpton
33 y/o SP Arthur Hammer
36 y/o SP Rhys Pollock (ABC)
38 y/o RF Alan Sneddon
29 y/o CL Martin Silva
28 y/o LF Jose de la Cruz (free agent out of Mexico)
35 y/o LF Will Glasson
30 y/o LF Puntadewa Kartini (ABC)
31 y/o SP Nick Aston
41 y/o 1B Jayden Pye
32 y/o CF Jayden Downes
34 y/o RF Damian Krajancic
38 y/o SP Lance Ralston
34 y/o LF Martin Boston
33 y/o MR/CL Aaron Fingleson
31 y/o CL Nelson Whiffin
36 y/o 1B Edwin Hayes
37 y/o 2B Yong-jun Chu
31 y/o 2B Rich Atteridge
30 y/o 3B Jay Saunderson
39 y/o 1B Ismael Aguirre
33 y/o RF Adrian Stuart
33 y/o C Paddy Mildren
29 y/o SP Gerald Tschiffely
30 y/o 2B Dean Brewster
37 y/o RF Manuel Alou
29 y/o SP Carlos Yanez
33 y/o RF Damon Liao
30 y/o 2B Gu Luo
39 y/o 1B Patrick Maggs

15 May: The first AUNZBL signing of the offseason was 36 y/o former ABC pitcher Rhys Pollock (64-50, 3.41 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 1.24 WHIP), who'd thrashed out a 2-year contract with Darwin. Pollock, a low-velocity pitcher who relied on painting the corners and keeping the ball down, was confident of winning a spot in the starting rotation.

20 May: 32 y/o CL Bailey Naylor (46-48, 174 sv, 3.49 ERA, 3.65 FIP, 1.34 WHIP) signed a 3-year extension with the Venom.

22 May: 33 y/o Adrian Stuart (.288/.325/.389, 56HR) was headed across borders to the ABC, having agreed to a 4-year contract with the Hamilton Hawks.

27 May: 32 y/o Zachariah Pond (95-84, 4.42 ERA, 4.32 FIP, 1.42 WHIP) was overjoyed to be staying a Digger. He’d signed a 2-year extension which would keep him in the AUNZBL until the end of the 2065 season. “I can’t fathom the idea of playing for another team. I’m a Digger through and through.” Pond had been the first overall pick of the 2050 draft and had been a big-league regular since 2054.

28 May: 39 y/o Ismael Aguirre (.316/.374/.564, 700HR) was going back to where it all started. Many thought he’d head across to the Lower Americas to finish his pro career but he’d spend at least 1 more season in the AUNZBL first. He’d signed a 1-year deal with the Thunder, the team that had won a bidding war for him as a 17 year-old way back in 2041. While many fans hadn’t forgiven him for signing with division rivals Brisbane as soon as he became eligible for free agency in 2049, and then going on to win 3 rings with them, there was a general feeling of satisfaction at the announcement of his signing. Thunder skipper Reginald Reddick said to press, “It has the feeling of symmetry to it, doesn’t it? Coming full circle and all that. Look, even Ismael doesn’t expect he’ll be an everyday player come the start of the season, but we’re sure he’ll contribute plenty, even if it’s just in the clubhouse.”

31 May: The first of the big fish had been landed! 25 y/o Stephane Lecomte (.283/.338/.361, 17HR, 406SB), 5-time Gold Glove winner at SS, would stay in the Coastal Division but would suit up for Darwin rather than Cairns. He’d signed a 5-year contract. A somewhat polarising figure, Lecomte had earned the nickname ‘Big Dumb’ while playing high school ball in Canada and it had stuck through his pro career. One coach within the Crocs’ minor league system described Lecomte thusly: “Very intelligent but not very shrewd. Will say whatever’s on his mind, and usually before he’s even thought about it himself.” A browse through the gossip sections of the big baseball sites had him falling out with teammates and then being best buds with them a couple weeks later. New teammate Kent Okolita had no doubts Lecomte would fit into the Diggers’ culture: “We all have our ups and downs and sometimes engage mouth before brain. Nobody can be on point 24-7. He’ll be fine here.”

1 Jun: Cowboys fans were overjoyed at news that 30 y/o Kelvin Pickhills (.273/.335/.434, 122HR), who’d put up a 5.9 WAR season in 2062, would be staying in Christchurch for some time yet. He’d agreed to terms on a 5-year extension.

3 Jun: Central Coast added another grizzled veteran to their ranks, signing 37 y/o Yong-jun Chu (.300/.335/.426, 193HR) for 1 year. Chu needed 62 more hits to reach 2500. He’d collected 35 hits from 120PA in 2062.

3 Jun: After opening with news of the Chu signing, Central Coast pulled the big rabbit out of their hat, revealing that 33 y/o Marty Okolita (85-63, 4.05 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 1.24 WHIP, 10.2 K/9) had signed on the dotted line for 2 seasons. Okolita appeared even more excited than Thunder management, saying with vigor, “Finally I get to play for a contender!”

3 Jun: Cairns announced the signing of 33 y/o, 2-time Brodie Backhouse Award-winner Aaron Fingleson (54-43, 151 sv, 3.09 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 1.17 WHIP) on a 2-year deal. Tipping the scales at 117 kg, 6’5” Fingleson joked with reporters that it was “nice to have some pie money coming in.”

5 Jun: Darwin replaced OF Alan Sneddon with 34 y/o Martin Boston (.328/.366/.406, 19HR). After hitting only .293 in 2061, the first time he’d ever hit below .300 in a full major-league season, Boston had bounced back with a .324/.362/.406 stat-line in 2062. The 5-time Gold Glove winner, who’d snared his 5th Gold Glove in 2062, had signed a 2-year deal, the 2nd year being a team option. Boston was currently at the head of the all-time BA ladder.

6 Jun: 31 y/o Sterling Boston (40-50, 244 sv, 3.86 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 1.27 WHIP) didn’t appear too worried at Cairns’ signing of Fingleson, inking his name to a 2-year extension just 3 days later.

7 Jun: 30 y/o Dean Brewster (.308/.386/.387, 17HR) had the worst season of his career in 2062, citing the turmoil of having his name in the papers for months while Brisbane talked of trading him as a big contributing factor. Another contributing factor was that once traded to Newcastle he couldn’t crack the team, despite their ongoing on-field woes. All put together, he said he “wasn’t loving baseball all that much” by season’s end, and seriously contemplated retiring and going back to university to complete a Bachelor of Business. Instead, however, he signed with Kalgoorlie in the ABC for 4 years. “I just want to play ball,” he said, “no dramas, no nothing, just bat, ball, glove and grass.”

8 Jun: It was off to the ABC for 33 y/o Damon Liao (.285/.345/.431, 148HR), at least for now. He’d signed for 4 years with Hamilton, though he faced the immediate ignominy of being assigned to train with Hamilton’s AAA-affiliate rather than the big-league squad. Nobody was doing any proper training at the moment, the players still on their end of season holidays, but Hamilton management indicated that while Liao had signed a big-league deal, he’d need to work his way up the ranks before playing in the ABC.

11 Jun: 30 y/o Rowan Kimpton (.306/.340/.533, 178HR) had been an almost-top 5 free agent this offseason. The Cowboys were happy to sign the unorthodox hitter, snaring him on a 6-year deal.

11 Jun: Auckland signed 29 y/o Carlos Yanez (39-49, 4.80 ERA, 4.89 FIP, 1.42 WHIP) to a 1-year deal.

13 Jun: 30 y/o Jay Saunderson (.265/.318/.420, 123HR) signed with Auckland for the 2063 season.

15 Jun: The Canberra Capitals won the battle to sign 31 y/o closer Nelson Whiffin (37-28, 103 sv, 3.96 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 1.31 WHIP), netting him on a 2-year deal. Whiffin, who’d spent his entire pro career to this point playing for the Cavalry, said, “Look, I got a few good offers from AUNZBL teams but my family is pretty settled here in Canberra so when the Capitals expressed their interest I was determined to make it happen.”

21 Jun: 35 y/o Will Glasson (.291/.362/.454, 254HR) was also heading to the Capitals on a 2-year deal.

23 Jun: After trying his luck around the league, 32 y/o Jayden Downes (.302/.327/.379, 30HR) re-signed with the Thunder for a further 2 years.

25 Jun: New Thunder GM Andrew Blackhouse, a 40 y/o former minor-league pitcher, appeared to have an ‘experience-first’ policy. He’d already signed veterans like 39 y/o Aguirre and 37 y/o Yong-jun Chu. Today he unveiled another veteran acquisition, 38 y/o Alan Sneddon (.298/.436/.406, 106HR). ‘The Professor’ had signed for 2 years, the 2nd year a vesting option based on 550 PA. Fans were cautiously optimistic, with Sneddon still rated as having one of the best eyes in baseball. Last season he’d only hit .251, his worst effort since his rookie season in 2046, but his OBP was still .394, also the first time that had dipped below .400 since his debut campaign.

25 Jun: 30 y/o Gerald Tschiffely (49-63, 5.60 ERA, 5.22 FIP, 1.56 WHIP) had been the North American baseball darling when he signed a 6-year deal with Whangarei in 2056 after coming up through the NABA systems. He’d played 7 years in the AUNZBL and, while his career hadn’t been stellar it hadn’t been disgraceful either. Now he was heading back home, signing a 2-year contract with Olympia. He wasn’t ruling out a return to the AUNZBL in the future, though most pundits didn’t think that likely.

29 Jun: The idea of being a one-club player was very appealing to 36 y/o Justin Auger (.284/.377/.513, 433HR), who let on that he’d been hounding GM Blackhouse for a contract extension from “the moment he set foot in his new office.” The hounding paid off, with the club today announcing Auger had extended his deal for another 3 years (the final year being a vesting option), which might potentially keep him playing big-league ball until the age of 40.

How did the experts feel about the signing? Most echoed the thoughts of OotPB TV analyst, Walter Casey, a former 1B himself, albeit at minor league level: “Too long. 2 years max, in my opinion. Auger’s good still, that’s true, but I’m picking he’ll begin to decline this season. At only 5’10” he really hasn’t got the height to keep his power game afloat once his hand speed diminishes.”

1 Jul: 30 y/o Gu Luo (.274/.306/.462, 184HR) was off to Darwin on a 3-year deal.

3 Jul: Darwin continued their offseason buy-up, announcing that 29 y/o Robinson Saldana (60-39, 4.71 ERA, 4.58 FIP, 1.46 WHIP) had been enticed to join them. The 4-time Championship-winner had agreed to a healthy 3-year contract. Diggers’ GM Juan Ornelas, who’d been at the helm since 2049, was excited about the squad he was assembling, saying, “We’re going to have a good tilt this year, I’ll tell you that right now. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say we’ve got the team to win it.”

3 Jul: “Yeah, I might’ve got 500, I might not have,” 36 y/o Edwin Hayes (.265/.330/.510, 435HR) said. “I’m leaning towards probably wouldn’t have at this stage. Anyway, I’m just happy to have a team next year. And you know what? They’re paying me more than anybody in the AUNZBL was willing to offer.” The sturdy slugger had signed a 3-year deal with the Perth Sharks.

4 Jul: Was 33 y/o Satya Susanti (81-38, 2.42 ERA, 2.35 FIP, 1.00 WHIP) scared of the AUNZBL? Or was no AUNZBL team interested in him? For the 2nd time in as many years, Susanti stuck with the ABC. This time it was the Perth Sharks, who were overjoyed to snare him for 4 years. Susanti intimated that while there had been AUNZBL interest, no team was prepared to offer him the security of a 3-or-more year contract. One anonymous source from within an AUNZBL organization had this to say: “From what I’ve heard he signed for, it seems like he could’ve got double that amount across 2 years in the AUNZBL and then headed back to the ABC for the sure money if he so desired. He’ll look back on this after retirement with regret, I have no doubt.”

8 Jul: 33 y/o Paddy Mildren (.283/.330/.473, 112HR) signed for 4 years with Alice Springs.

12 Jul: 39 y/o Patrick Maggs (.302/.377/.524, 452HR) re-signed with Darwin for the 2063 season, though the outspoken veteran was quick to tell journalists it wasn’t because he was dying to remain a Digger. “Look, I feel they treated me pretty unfairly last season, to be quite honest. But a job’s a job and they were the only AUNZBL team prepared to offer me a contract.” Darwin GM Juan Ornelas just shrugged when confronted with Maggs’ words. “Everybody’s entitled to their opinions,” he said, “but Gavin* and I will always do what we feel is best for the team. Right now, we both feel that Patrick is still very valuable, on and off the field. Just remember, a lot of what goes into a successful ball club isn’t seen on the diamond.”

*Gavin Brigatti - Darwin manager

12 Jul: Alice Springs announced the signing of another former AUNZBL player. 35 y/o Damian Krajancic (.263/.339/.423, 200HR) had joined the team on a 2-year deal.

14 Jul: Alan Sneddon announced that the 2063 season would be his last. Upon its conclusion he would move into the commentary booth. Central Coast management appeared alongside Sneddon at the presser, noting that his move came with their blessing. Skipper Reginald Reddick said, “Alan wanted to retire immediately to take up the new role but after discussions with us he agreed to stay on for the season. We’re very happy he did and we think he’ll be part of something special.” Sneddon, nodding, added, “I realized it would be very unfair and unethical of me to break my contract, especially after only signing it less than a month ago. Also, I have a couple things left I’d still like to accomplish in the game. Another ring would be nice, and I’d like to get to 700 stolen bases.” He needed only 5 more to reach that mark.

1 Aug: Darwin had been the busiest team so far this offseason, adding 18 players to their squad via signing or trade. Today they added number 19, presenting 29 y/o Martin Silva (34-42, 76 sv, 4.54 ERA, 4.55 FIP, 1.37 WHIP) to media with news he’d signed for 2 years. 2062 had been Silva’s first full season as closer but he would have to settle for being a setup man in Darwin, at least to begin the season, 2062 Brodie Backhouse Award Winner Rod Bacon with first dibs on the role.

7 Aug: “I want to play in the bigs until I’m 45,” 42 y/o Jayden Pye (.263/.353/.453, 341HR) told assembled media after revealing Darwin had signed him up for the 2063 campaign. 6’3” and 120 kilos, Pye was still hitting them a long way in batting practice. Pye had played for Darwin once before, featuring in their lineup for half a season in 2057 before being traded to Adelaide. Last season he’d become the oldest player selected to the All Star Game in AUNZBL history, making his 4th appearance over a nearly 17-year career.

11 Aug: The Cowboys signed 37 y/o Manuel Alou (.295/.388/.492, 348HR) for the 2063 season.

13 Aug: 39 y/o Lance Ralston (196-142, 3.57 ERA, 3/44 FIP, 1.28 WHIP) wasn’t done with the AUNZBL quite yet. He re-signed with Christchurch for 2 seasons, with the Cowboys surprisingly confirming there was no vesting option or opt-out clause for the 2nd year of the contract.

16 Aug: The Metros signed 31 y/o Nick Aston (57-46, 4.27 ERA, 4.47 FIP, 1.41 WHIP) for 2 years. He would slot into the middle of their rotation. There was an overall feeling among Metros fans that their team was about to break out of their long slump.

16 Aug: Jose de la Cruz hailed from Mexico but had never played in either the NABA or the BL. Instead the 28 y/o corner OF had plied his trade in the numerous Central American indie leagues that popped up overnight and usually died just as quickly. AUNZBL scouts crossed paths with him fairly often as they did the circuit looking for young talent to sign for their clubs but somehow de la Cruz never got picked up. “A decent hitter,” one report said, “with good plate discipline and the ability to find the gaps as well as speed on the base-paths. However, no strength so little power.”

Finally, after 12 years of dominating his opposition, de la Cruz got bored and decided, on the recommendation of a retired AUNZBL scout, to head to Australia to try his luck during the offseason melee. For most of the offseason it seemed as if nobody would bite but then Cairns, whose lineup already revolved around imported stars Mario Correa, Javier Rodriguez, and Claudio Lara, and whose staff included Lower Americans Julio Sousa, Raul Guerra, Diego Perez and Ruben Nieves, expressed interest. Some haggling later and de la Cruz signed a 6-year deal with the club. Speaking through an interpreter he said, “I can tell I’m going to be happy here.” Hitting coach Nieves enthused, “This guy is one of the smartest hitters I’ve ever seen. He’s teaching me things!”

20 Aug: 31 y/o Rich Atteridge (.286/.317/.372, 15HR), whose key was versatility in the field, signed with Perth for 1 year.

9 Sep: Sydney announced that 31 y/o Wes Blenkhorn (47-37, 128 sv, 4.01 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 1.41 WHIP) had extended for 3 years. Blenkhorn, who’d gone 11-3 with 20 saves in 2062, was hoping to break into the Blue Sox rotation for good this season, after having had a few cameos in seasons past.

11 Sep: Once again, Achaius Muljana (.321/.383/.511, 103HR) couldn’t find an AUNZBL team willing to take him on. He ended up signing on with the Canberra Capitals for the 2063 season.

18 Sep: 31 y/o Puntadewa Kartini (.277/.362/.472, 124HR) also signed with the Capitals for the season.

Notable Trades

16 May: 27 y/o Adam Cox (.286/.336/.440, 26HR from 845 career PA) had taken an unconventional route to the AUNZBL. Drafted by the Fury in 2055, he’d been released by them in December 2057 despite having just won a single-A Player of the Month Award. Undaunted, he headed to the Lower Americas and signed a minimum wage deal with Juarez’s lowest-level affiliate. He didn’t play a game for them, though, quickly heading up to the first-grade team where he played for 3 seasons, winning 2 Guante de Plata’s at 1B. At the completion of that contract he signed with Melbourne, and made his big-league debut that same season. He turned out for the Aces again in 2061 but wasn’t offered arbitration at the end of the season. Central Coast thought he’d fit in just right with their style of play and signed him up for 2062. He hit .271/.316/.394, with 11HR, across 120 games.

However, new Thunder GM Andrew Blackhouse wasn’t a fan, today finalizing a trade that sent the plucky 1B to Hobart in exchange for 27 y/o 2B Ethan Rafferty (.271/.330/.340, 3HR in his rookie season), and a good-looking 19 y/o outfield prospect. Rafferty also had an interesting story. Discovered as a 25 y/o playing independent league ball in North Queensland, he had got limited playing time at AA and AAA in 2060 and 2061, his managers preferring to focus on players that’d come through the system. Still, Hobart’s front office had eyes on him, and elevated him to the majors in 2062, starting him in 123 games at SS. He won a Gold Glove for his efforts, putting up a +17.4 ZR.

Hobart’s new GM, former Fury scouting director Drew Martin, said about the trade, “Look, I like Ethan. He works hard and he’s got one hell of a glove. But we need offense really bad and while Adam only hit 11 homers this season I think that was due to him settling into the rhythm of the majors. He’ll do us proud and I wish Ethan all the best suiting up for the Thunder.”

19 May: 3 days later, and Martin wheeled another trade, this time with Kununurra. 29 y/o Pancho Cruz (.262/.350/.414, 40HR), who’d made his way to the AUNZBL after coming up through the BL system, became a Prospect. In return Hobart gave the Pioneers a 21 y/o pitcher and a 22 y/o 1B. The pitcher projected to have a solid major-league career, the 1B not so much.

26 May: Brisbane dealt 25 y/o catcher Jay Watts (.383/.444/.716, 5HR from 90 big-league PA) to Canberra in exchange for 2 minor leaguers. Watts, drafted out of college in 2060, was growing into a power-hitter, though there was some anonymous backroom chatter about possible PED use. Watts’ response? “Haters gonna hate and that’s all I have to say about that.”

4 Jun: 31 y/o Raymond Eykelbosch (86-70, 4.24 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 1.30 WHIP) was coming off a 17-7 season, the best of his 9-year major-league career, but Sydney scouts felt he was actually on the decline. The Blue Sox acted on those concerns, sending him to Darwin in exchange for 28 y/o Manny Campos (.243/.311/.351, 16HR across 3 part seasons) and a 20 y/o OF prospect.

7 Jun: It was rare for Adelaide and Central Coast to engage in trade talks but they had been doing just that, both parties confirming that a trade had been consummated. 30 y/o Keiran Cooper (.304/.337/.439, 69HR), who many felt had been denied the opportunity to become a bona-fide star thanks to warming the bench most of the last 3 seasons, would head across to the Thunder in exchange for 28 y/o MR/CL Allen Jiang (24-13, 40 sv, 4.58 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 1.51 WHIP) and a 19 y/o OF prospect.

5 Jul: This offseason had been one of the busiest in recent memory at the trading table, and the AUNZBL GMs were still at it. Darwin flipped 27 y/o SS Rod Albury (.299/.331/.396, 17HR) across to Hobart in return for 35 y/o MR/CL Addergoole Bintang (18-17, 37 sv) and 22 y/o CF Eddie Blackford (.182/.206/.253, 1HR in 103 career big league PA).

Notable Injuries

21 Apr: 32 y/o Norm Donaldson was an avid surfer, and so decided to cap off his personal Championship celebrations with a quiet surf with some mates. Things didn’t turn out so quietly, however.

In Donaldson’s own words: “Well, to be fair, I was still a bit hammered, so I was doing more lying around on the board than I was catching waves. And we all know what a fellah in a wetsuit looks like to a shark. Thankfully, Andy, my brother, saw a dark shape in the water gliding towards me and gave me a yell. Took me a couple moments to understand what he was on about, but then I figured it out and pulled my legs out of the water quick-smart. Just in time too. This sharkie was hungry. Took a bite out of my board and gashed my wetsuit up a bit, and my right leg too. So now there’s blood in the water and I’m off my board in the drink, panicking, just lashing out with my fists and my feet, hoping I can bop the sucker on the nose or something. Andy and a couple of the other lads charged over and I think the shark decided this was in the too hard basket and took off. Man, sore leg and all, I don’t think I’ve ever swam into shore so fast. For a few minutes I just lay on the sand, shivering, thinking my leg’s been bit off. But turns out it’s just some cuts and lacerations and the doc says I’ll be good as new in a couple weeks. Physically maybe. I think I’ll be having nightmares for a while yet, though.”

7 Sep: 28 y/o Bandits LF Burt Trewartha (.267/.333/.391, 24HR), who’d shot to fame with a 7-hit, 3HR performance for Whangarei against Hobart in 2060 but done little else meriting attention since, collided with a teammate while making a catch. He had to be helped from the field, was assessed and immediately diagnosed with a concussion. A bad concussion, the scans showed later. Team medical staff weren’t sure when, or even if, Trewartha would return to the field.

14 Sep: Rodney Ellison (.311/.376/.493, 95HR - both AUNZBL and ABC stats combined) looked likely to miss the first month of play thanks to a fractured thumb.

15 Sep: Domenic Guerin (.292/.351/.431, 53HR) would miss around 4 weeks of the season after tearing his ankle ligaments.

17 Sep: 25 y/o Hobart pitcher Kioniko Mullion (31-25, 4.64 ERA, 5.02 FIP, 1.47 WHIP) was set to miss up to 2 months of the season with a torn biceps.

27 Sep: 23 y/o Axel Zhou (.245/.306/.377, 3HR in 173PA) was reportedly “devastated.” The 2061 #1 overall pick had broken his kneecap and was likely to miss the entire season as a result.

NABA Wrap-up

The Carmel Generals edged out the Jamestown Originals by 1 game to win the NABA regular season. Olympia finished 1 game further back and Canon City 2 in the closest regular season in years.

Jamestown took out the 1st game of the NABA Cup and looked certain to sweep in Game 2, ahead 9-7 heading into the bottom of the 9th. It wasn’t to be however, Carmel rallying to score 3 and win 10-9 with a 2-RBI walk-off single. The heartbreaking loss also broke Jamestown’s resolve and they surrendered meekly in the decider, shut out 9-0 to see Carmel win the Cup for the 2nd time.

26 y/o David Stephens (.288/.343/.529, 19HR), of the Shockwave, won the North Cascades Award. The switch-hitter led the NABA in home runs in his rookie campaign. The fans were ecstatic to see a home-grown talent beat out all the imports for the rookie award.

Only just back in the league from his stint in the AUNZBL, the Shockwave’s Gerald Tschiffely (9-3, 2.22 ERA, 2.36 FIP, 1.13 WHIP) put all that he’d learned in the world’s best league to good use, winning the Yosemite Award. Tschiffely also struck out 93 hitters in 89.1 innings while only allowing 82 hits and 19 walks.

24 y/o Luis Perez (.293/.384/.498, 12HR), playing for the Originals, won the Grand Canyon Award.

All of this crop of award winners had been born in the Americas.

Other Notes

The tallest player in the AUNZBL at the beginning of the 2063 season was Whangarei starting pitcher Matt Mulholland. The 25 y/o stood at a massive 6’11” (211cm). He’d been discovered by Sluggers’ scouts throwing in a New South Wales bush league and was quickly signed and thrust into the major leagues. While his debut season wasn’t great (5-8, 6.37 ERA, 5.58 FIP, 1.50 WHIP), he had all the tools and was said to have responded well to the coaching he’d received over the offseason. Mullholland threw a fastball, curve, slider and circle change, though the latter was used primarily as a surprise pitch. Known for hiding in the showers and leaping out to scare unsuspecting teammates, Mulholland looked set to be an AUNZBL fixture for some time.

30 Sep: On the eve of Opening Day, the only significant free agent not signed was 34 y/o Arthur Hammer, who still had at least 4 months rehab on the torn flexor tendon in his elbow ahead of him.

The Darwin Diggers were the runaway winners in the offseason WAR gain stakes. They added 24.1 WAR to their roster, adding a mammoth 20 players after losing 12 to free agency and retirement. Auckland (5.6), Canberra (5.5), and Melbourne (3.7) were the next best offseason dealers. On the other end of the scale, Wellington lost an overall 10.1 WAR. Adelaide, who let Hammer, Saldana and Fingleson go to free agency, lost 6.1 WAR and made very few offseason moves. Whangarei lost 6.0 WAR, mostly in the form of Okolita.
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2063 Preseason Predictions

2063 Preseason Predictions

Coastal: Adelaide and Darwin topped the Spring Training standings, both with 15-9 efforts, and the OotP Broadcasting panel of experts felt that would translate into regular season success. The Venom were picked to win 100 games (yet again), while Darwin’s offseason manoeuvring would hold them in good stead, seeing them win 90 games. Surprisingly, last season’s runners-up, the Cairns Crocs, would only just finish above .500, while Perth would be much improved but still finish below par.

East-West: Newcastle surprised everybody during Spring Training in the East-West, putting together a league-best 17-7 record. They were also picked to top the regular season standings, a few games ahead of Brisbane. Surprisingly, the Central Coast were expected to finish at the bottom of the pile and below .500.

NZ: The Metros straddled .500 during ST, the only NZ team to reach that mark. It seemed their young team was maturing into a force to be reckoned with and that, together with the couple of acquisitions they made during the offseason, would see them top the NZ and be the only team to play better than .500. Christchurch would be next best, while Wellington would sport the worst record in the league.

Southern: Melbourne came out on top in ST, putting together a 13-11 record, but they’d still have a fight on their hands during the regular season, the experts predicting a playoff game between them and Hobart to decide the Southern pennant winner. Sydney, last year’s division winner, would finish at the bottom of the table this time around.

Wildcard: Darwin and whoever lost the playoff game between Melbourne and Hobart.

Jorge Diaz Award: If Andre Wiltshire could stay injury free, this would be all his, the analysts agreeing that he would hit somewhere in the region of .360 with more than 30 homers. Norm Blume would challenge, as would veteran Gary Young, while Beau Hauer would also have a strong season.

Hurler of the Year: Barry Dean all the way, although John Zglinicki would record 20 wins and Roderick Beresford would dominate for Newcastle.

ABC: Brisbane and Alice Springs would duke it out in the Northern, with Brisbane eventually snaring it by breaking the 100-win barrier. Melbourne were picked to take out the Southern while putting up 106 wins, though Sydney and Canberra would both have 90-win seasons. Perth would once again triumph in the Western, and play well above .500 to boot, while Dunedin would edge out Port Moresby in the Overseas.

Si-xun Qiao was picked to win back-to-back Golden Bats, while Alice Springs duo Carl Rowlands and Stephen Crawford would both win 20 games, Rowlands taking out Golden Arm.
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2063/2064 Season - October

2063/2064 Season - October

Notable Performances

1 Oct: Wellington travelled to Hobart for their opening series of the season and the 57099 fans who streamed through the gates would be hoping the next 4 games would be just as close. Wellington led 4-1 going into the 7th before Hobart rallied to score 3 and tie the game up. That was all the scoring until the top of the 14th when Fernando Contreras lashed a 2-run dinger over right to push the Fury ahead. Hobart couldn’t get anything going in the bottom of the inning off Autathya Tapti, who threw his fourth scoreless relief inning of the game. Final score: 6-4 Wellington, Gilberto Soberon tying the Fury extra-innings game record for walks, earning 4.


2 Oct: Cairns fought to their first win of the season in 13 innings over the Blue Sox. A 3-run rally in the top of the 9th knotted the game for the first time since the top of the 1st. In the 13th they scored the go-ahead run via a sac-fly and then gave themselves some insurance thanks to Reginald Pickhills’ 2-run homer. Sterling Boston threw 3 relief innings to get the win, while Cain Donaldson doubled and tripled in going 3-6 for the losers.

2 Oct: Rich Steedman held his nerve to hold Christchurch at bay in the bottom of the 10th and seal a come from behind 6-5 win for Brisbane. The save was only his first of the season but it was also his 40th without blowing one.

3 Oct: Kununurra stormed back to steal the win over Canberra. They scored 2 in the 8th to pull within 1 run before Ramon Martinez bashed a 3-run walk-off home run in the 9th to secure a 6-4 victory.

4 Oct: Jai Rowe was in punishing form for Canberra as they walloped Kununurra 12-7, collecting 6 hits from 6 at-bats. His hits included a triple and a pair of 2-run home runs. He drove in a total of 5 runners and also scored 4 runs.

6 Oct: Adelaide pounded Sydney 13-5, Richard Moore contributing a Grand Slam. The biggest star of the night, however, was Quentin Welch who went 4-4 with a double and 2HR. The performance marked Welch’s 20th consecutive regular season game with a hit, the second time he’d reached that mark in the majors.

7 Oct: Kent Wells threw the first complete game of his big-league career, as well as his first shutout, to lead Cairns to a 9-0 thrashing of the Pioneers. He allowed only 5 hits and walked none, striking out 8. At only 5’8” Wells threw a hard fastball to go with a slider and changeup but was better at fooling hitters than blowing them away.

8 Oct: Mario Correa took out the season’s first PotW award, crunching the ball around to the tune of .469/.469/.781, with 2 doubles, a triple, and 2HR scattered amongst his 15 hits. He drove in runners in each of the first 7 games of the season.

8 Oct: Clint Kline followed up Wells’ shutout with a whitewash of his own. Cairns cruised to an 11-0 win, Kline conceding only 4 hits and 0 walks. He struck out 5 for only the second shutout of his 9+ year, 2 HotYs career.

9 Oct: As was so often the case in games involving Adelaide, it all came down to the longball. This time a walk-off 2-run Blake Rawnsley HR did the job in the bottom of the 9th, handing Sydney a 10-9 victory. That blast was Rawnsley’s third four-bagger of the night, complementing solo efforts in the 1st and 3rd.

9 Oct: The above game was also notable for the fact that of Adelaide’s starting 9, the only player not to get a hit was Welch, who went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts. Thus ended his hit streak at 22 games.

10 Oct: Edwin Cheadle had arrived in the AUNZBL from the ABC to little fanfare, with most pundits of the opinion the 31 y/o would be out of his depth. He’d been serviceable in his first start, throwing 6 innings for 2 runs in Melbourne’s 8-6 loss to Central Coast. He was nothing short of superb today, however. He retired the first 12 in order before giving up 2 walks to begin the 5th. He got himself out of that jam without too much difficulty, not allowing another baserunner until the 7th, when an inside pitch nicked Harold Pryor. In the 8th, an error by the 3B allowed another runner but Cheadle wasn’t bothered a bean, retiring the next hitter to end the inning. Was a no-hitter on the cards? It certainly looked like it, Cheadle getting the first 2 outs of the 9th without breaking a sweat. He got ahead of Peter Moy 0-2, the home crowd on their feet and bellowing. Moy fouled off a fastball before Cheadle threw a cutter that didn’t really cut. Moy drilled it deep to right. It hit the base of the fence and the no-hitter was broken up with a double. Still, Cheadle said after the game, a 1-hit shutout was “nothing to sneeze at.” Cheadle struck out 4 and Melbourne won 4-0.

12 Oct: Barry Dean had looked so out of sorts during his first 2 starts of the season that he had everybody wondering if he was playing through an injury. In his first start he got taken for 10 hits and 3 walks over 6.1 innings, giving up 4 runs in a 5-4 loss to Adelaide while only striking out 3. In his 2nd start he threw 7.1 innings but got tagged for 8 hits and 2 walks, giving up 6 earned runs in a 6-2 loss to Hobart. Even more worrying was the fact he only fanned 1 hitter. He was back on song today, though, nearly going the distance in Perth’s 6-0 over Christchurch. He threw 8.1 innings, and felt he could’ve finished the game but didn’t “hold it against” skipper Jose Mendez for sitting him down. “I had just lost one inside and hit a guy,” he said, “and Reardon was fouling me off easy as you like until I eventually got him to miscue one, so it was probably better to tap out and make sure we got out of the game with no egg on our faces.” Dean gave up just 2 hits and a walk in the sterling performance, and while he only struck out 5 he looked infinitely more settled than he had his previous starts.

12 Oct: Sydney led Kununurra 3-2 heading into the top of the 9th. Luck combined with audacious play soon had the bases juiced with nobody out and Manny Campos made sure his team got maximum value out of their baserunners, pounding an 0-2 changeup into the RF bleachers for a Grand Slam. The Pioneers weren’t about to give up, however, getting a 2-out rally going in the bottom of the inning that saw 4 runners score, 3 of them via a Karl Kapua bomb. Ricardo Ortiz kept the inning going with a walk but Chuk-yan Lung could only pop out to the catcher to see Kununurra fall just short. Final score: 7-6 Blue Sox.

15 Oct: Luis Cuesta took out PotW, hitting .476/.538/1.381, including a meaty 6HR. He had 8 for the season so far, putting him 1 clear of all other hitters.

17 Oct: Barry Dean didn’t get the W but he did put up the best pitching performance of the day, sending down 8.0 innings for 1 earned run against the Aces, keeping the Heat in it until they could hustle their way to a walk-off 2-1 win in the bottom of the 9th. Dean fanned 12 and started out the game by striking out the side, though he didn’t manage to do so again.

18 Oct: Wellington were all sorts of awful to start 2063, ranking near last in almost every major hitting and pitching category. Alejandro Valentin saved them the embarrassment of an early season 10-loss streak today, staying on the mound all game to allow just 4 hits while walking none and allowing no runners to score. In turn, the Fury busted out with 10 runs to beat arch-rivals Auckland. Valentin struck out 8.

19 Oct: 31 y/o Callum Fookes had been mostly a triple-A player in a pro career that started in 2054. He’d got a few cups of coffee across 2057-2059 before disappearing from the major-league scene entirely until 2062. He was getting his digs in early this season as Whangarei suffered infield injury problems, called up on the 18th and playing that night as well as in today’s 9-4 win over Cairns. He was instrumental in the win too, going 5-5 with a run, double and 2RBI. Fookes’ plate game was built all around patience even if every time he swung it looked like he was trying to land the ball in the parking lot. His big-league stat-line made for decent reading (.340/.419/.398, 0HR) even if his AAA line revealed the true player (.217/.357/.264). Still, nobody could take his accomplishment away from him. This was the first time in his pro career that he’d hit 5 or more times in a game.

20 Oct: The Venom were struggling early in the season, dropping their 7th straight today, this one a 7-0 defeat to the Cowboys. Christchurch pitcher Edward Vance was the star of the show, blanking them on 4 hits and 0 walks, striking out 3.

22 Oct: Player of the Week went to Domenic Cook, the 2059 #1 overall pick, who hit .478/.571/1.130, 5 of his 11 hits maximum bases.

24 Oct: After a 3-10 start Kununurra had been unbeatable, and overcame Whangarei 6-4 today to make it 10 wins in a row.

24 Oct: Last week Adelaide were shut out in 3 of 6 games. Their offense went kaboom today, though, as they trounced the Roos 20-6. Moore was 3-5 with 2 homeruns, 7RBI, and 3 runs. His second HR, in the 7th, was a slammer. Pickhills was the only starting player not to collect 2 or more hits, going 0-3 with 3 walks.

24 Oct: Beau Snell, leading the league with a .459 BA, went 3-4 in Cairns’ 11-3 win over Brisbane. He scored 1 run, making it 15 consecutive games with a run scored. Incidentally, he also had a 15-game hit streak going.

26 Oct: Kununurra’s offense only sparked to life in the 8th, which wasn’t enough to get them across the line against the Sluggers. Down they went, 7-4, and their winning streak was halted at 11.

27 Oct: Beau Snell kept the hit streak alive, going 2-4 in the Crocs’ 7-5 loss to Brisbane but he couldn’t keep the scoring streak going, it ending at 16 games.

27 Oct: In that same game Rich Steedman retired the side in order in the bottom of the 9th to record his 6th save of the season. That gave him a streak of 45 consecutive saves. Steedman, who’d already appeared 12 times, throwing 16.2 innings, was Brisbane’s first-choice closer but was also being used in middle-relief as well, with the Bandits sporting a bullpen of only 5-6 pitchers. Steedman was yet to allow any runs, earned or otherwise.

27 Oct: Richard Moore was surely a lock for PotW. He thumped 2 homers in Adelaide’s 12-2 defeat of Newcastle to give him a 5-game HR streak. Both of his homeruns came in the 9th, the first leading off the inning, the second the final hit of an 8-run rally. Moore had crushed a total of 7 dingers in these last 5 games.

29 Oct: The 28th was an off day, so Moore didn’t have the opportunity to see if he could match the league’s longest HR streak. He did duly win PotW, though, thanks to his .481/.548/1.296 efforts, including those 7 homeruns.

29 Oct: Moore was unable to clear the fences in Adelaide’s 2-0 win over Melbourne, going 0-3 with a walk. In fact, no homeruns were hit in the game, Adelaide’s scores coming in singles in the 2nd and 3rd. Rafael Hurlson threw 8 innings for 2 hits and 2 walks, fanning 9, to go to 4-1 on the season. His performance was ranked #1 overall across the league by OotPB TV.

29 Oct: Perth just kept finding ways to lose. This time it took 11 innings and ended with a Jai Rowe walk-off homerun. Canberra gladly took the 8-7 win while Perth slumped to a 5th-straight defeat to sit 9-18, second-worst in the league behind the Fury.

30 Oct: Pedro Montanez shut out Auckland 7-0 while conceding just 4 hits and 1 walk. He struck out 4 to give Christchurch the win and the division lead.

31 Oct: It was homerun mayhem in the last 2 innings of the Blue Sox-Bandits game. Sydney eventually won 13-10, with 14 of the game’s 23 runs scored in the 8th and 9th. Sydney took the lead in the top of the 8th, all 4 of their runs that inning coming via solo HRs (Rodney Ellison, Axel Nankervis, Nigel Anderton, Bailey Kinnear). A 2-run Arturo Medina jack in the bottom of the inning tied the game up once again before Ellison slugged his second of the night in the top of the 9th, worth 2 runs, to give Sydney back the lead. Kinnear pinged his second of the night later that inning too, to add another 3 runs to the score. Pete Mulholland got 2 back with a lusty 440-foot fly in the bottom of the inning but it wasn’t enough to get the Bandits the win. “Absolute carnage,” Brisbane manager Timothy Donaldson said afterwards. “I’m not sure I’ve seen anything quite like it before.” In the 4th inning Sydney had jacked another 3 homers, worth 4 runs, for a grand total of 9 longballs in the game. 4 Blue Sox players had multi-homer games. By contrast, Brisbane’s 2 late efforts were the only ones they hit in the match.

Notable Injuries

3 Oct: The Roos would have to do without SP Jesus Solis for at least 4 months. He came from the mound on the 2nd after throwing just 2/3 of an inning. The diagnosis: a partially torn labrum.

4 Oct: Gary Young collected 2 hits on Opening Night but didn’t even get to the plate on the 2nd, bearing the full brunt of a hard slide while defending 2B. Today he received word that he’d suffered an oblique strain and would out of action for 6-7 weeks.

5 Oct: Nick Ahern (.118/.211/.118, 0HR) suffered a fractured hand thanks to a collision with the wall while making a catch in Kununurra’s 7-4 loss to Canberra. He’d be sidelined for 4-5 weeks.

8 Oct: Hobart wouldn’t have Gordon Ladds (.167/.348/.278, 0HR) in their lineup for the next month or so while he recovered from an oblique strain.

8 Oct: Dustin Bacon (.571/.625/1.143, 2HR) finally got confirmation of his injury after hurting himself on the 4th: a groin strain, and at least 6 weeks on the DL. His injury had paved the way for 42 y/o Jayden Pye to get the 1B starting gig. In 30.0 innings at 1B Pye had already put up a -1.1 ZR.

9 Oct: Injury-prone Perth star Fei-hsien Chang (.211/.286/.368, 0HR) was headed to the DL for 5-6 weeks with a sprained knee.

10 Oct: A blow for the Crocs, who would have to make do without Mario Correa (.455/.471/.758, 2HR) for the next 3 or so weeks while he rested a sore shoulder.

11 Oct: Wellington’s Warren Chapple (.259/.280/.359, 19HR) was gone for the season thanks to a hip strain.

12 Oct: Darwin could add SP Willie Russell (0-1, 7.71 ERA, 3.38 FIP, 1.54 WHIP) to the injury ward. The underrated journeyman had torn the meniscus in his knee and didn’t expect to be pitching for 2-3 months.

19 Oct: 25 y/o leftie Jayden Roneberg (.260/.208/.384, 2HR) surprised a fair few in 2062, hitting .300/.371/.407 across the season to go with an above-average glove. The Metros would have to without his reassuring presence in CF for at the next 3 months however, as he’d fractured his finger. In 16 games he’d already put up a ZR of +3.7.

21 Oct: Another injury for Auckland, testing their outfield depth. Javier Garcia (.298/.311/.404, 1HR) had torn the meniscus in his knee and would be out of action for at least 6 weeks.

25 Oct: The Crocs lost another mainstay of their lineup to injury. Javier Rodriguez (.460/.507/.714, 3HR) had already missed a few days with sinus infections and other minor ailments. The fractured finger suffered in the 12-1 whipping of Brisbane was a whole other story, though. He’d be gone 5-6 weeks according to the team’s medical staff.

25 Oct: 22 y/o Sadao Taniguchi (.277/.330/.386, +4.5ZR) was impressing everybody in the Aces’ organization with his tenacity, both at the plate and in the field. Sadly he’d be out for the better part of a month with a torn thumb ligament.

27 Oct: The odds of Cam Kneale (2-0, 3.22 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 1.43 WHIP) making it back for Central Coast this season were not high. He had a partially torn labrum, with a possible mid-March return mooted.

Notable Trades/Signings

18 Oct: 30 y/o Zach Merritt (1-1, 10.22 ERA, 4.63 FIP, 1.86 WHIP) had spent most of his career coming out of the bullpen for Sydney, to average results. Last season they gave him 17 starts and he impressed enough to win a spot in the rotation this season. He hadn’t started well, though plenty of that was down to bad luck, but the Blue Sox wanted to make sure he stayed in their colours, today finalizing a 3-year contract extension with him.

Month Awards

Rookie of the Month: 23 y/o Tashiaki Yano had been climbing up the annual prospects list the last 4 seasons, debuting at #33 in 2060 and this year tipping the scales at #8. Unlike the 7 players before him, however, he started the season in the big leagues, jumping all the way up from A-ball, at which level he’d won SotY last season. Brisbane’s faith in him was well placed, Yano scooping the season’s first Rookie of the Month Award. He hit .324/.356/.577, 36-111, with 21 runs, 8 doubles, 1 triple, 6HR, 16RBI, 6BB, and 3SB.

Hurler of the Month: Jason Brewster was often called ‘a supreme talent who seems easily distracted.’ He wasn’t distracted in October, however, putting together a 5-1 record on his way to HotM. He’d been getting plenty of help from his defense, as shown by his 2.31 ERA contrasting with a 5.12 FIP, but he’d shown he could beat a batter or two as well, striking out 36 in 39.0 innings. He had a 1.08 WHIP.

Slugger of the Month: The reigning Hoodie was mounting a strong early case for 3 in a row. Richard Moore took to AUNZBL pitching with venom over the last month, his stat-line .394/.504/.761. He was 43-109, with 26 runs, a surprisingly solitary double, and 13HR. He also drove in 34 runners, drew 22 walks and struck out just 14 times. Moore led the league in OBP, SLG, OPS, wOBA (.516), HR, RBI, runs, total bases (83), and WAR (2.4).

Media Watch

Ismael Aguirre: Somehow Aguirre found himself as the starting DH on Opening Day, a role that saw him start 10 games until a quad strain sidelined him for the second half of the month. He hit .250/.400/.429, adding a single HR to his tally, that HR his only run. He needed 17 more runs to reach 2000. He’d also nicked a base, and not as part of a double steal. He had 24 stolen bases across his 20+ year career.

Lance Ralston: Ralston couldn’t nail down a spot in the starting rotation, instead appearing 7 times out of the bullpen for 15.1 innings pitched. Demonstrating his decline, he only struck out 7 while walking 10 and giving up 14 hits. At the end of the month he had an 0-1 record.

Marcos Lopez: An oblique strain limited Lopez to just 19 games in October, during which he collected 19 hits. He needed only 43 more to reach 3000.

Jose de la Cruz: If Cruz had stayed healthy the whole month he would probably have given Yano a run for his money in the rookie award stakes. As it was, in 23 games he hit .315/.429/.467, with 6 doubles and 4 triples in his 29 hits. He also drew 17 walks and stole 8 bases, looking more like an AUNZBL veteran than a 29 y/o first-year pro who’d spent last season playing against guys who either weren’t good enough for the NABA or BL or were only in their mid-teens.

Other Notes

Coastal Division: Cairns streaked out to a 3-game lead over Darwin, with Adelaide a further game back. Perth ended the month having lost 7 in a row to be tied for worst record in the league.

East-West Division: Kununurra found themselves 2 games ahead in the East-West, Brisbane the closest chaser. Central Coast were 3 games in arrears.

NZ Division: Auckland and Christchurch were locked at the top of the division, Whangarei 3 games behind.

Southern Division: Sydney led Hobart by 1, the Aces by 2, and Canberra by 3.

Wildcard: Too early to tell, though a look at the wildcard standings did indicate a lot of teams had started off the season in a similar fashion.


Beau Snell (.436/.458/.525, 0HR) was the only qualified player hitting above .400 at the close of October. He also had a league-leading 44 hits.

Nigel Anderton (.328/.400/.664, 9HR) topped the league in extra-base hits (21), and doubles (12).

The leaderboards had been all Luis Cuesta (.333/.377/.740, 11HR) for the first half of the month but he finished October at the head of only 1 category: isolated power (.406).

Vern Bull (.322/.478/.667, 9HR) had a league-leading 26 walks.

Auckland’s Tim Waymouth (2-1, 1.57 ERA, 2.75 FIP, 1.14 WHIP) led the league in ERA and was the only qualified pitcher to have not allowed a single HR yet.

Clint Kline (4-1, 2.04 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 1.01 WHIP) had the best FIP in the league, while teammate Kent Wells (4-1, 4.26 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 1.21 WHIP) only walked 2 hitters in 38.0 innings, giving him a league-topping 0.47 BB/9, as well as an astonishing 12.00 K/BB ratio.

Baskoro Subagja (1-1, 1.74 ERA, 3.15 FIP, 0.99 WHIP) was the only qualified pitcher with a WHIP less than 1.00, and an opponent’s average of less than .200 (.193). ‘Spooky’ also had the best H/9 rate, at only 6.31.

Melbourne’s Karl Blackwell (1-3, 2.62 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 1.21 WHIP) had the best pitching WAR, with 1.7.

Marty Okolita (2-2, 4.68 ERA, 4.42 FIP, 1.23 WHIP) was fanning them at a furious rate. He had 52 strikeouts at a rate of 11.06 per 9 innings, both league bests.

ABC Wrap-up

Brisbane (21-7), Canberra (21-8), and Sydney (20-9) all racked up 20 or more wins in October. Canberra and Sydney both inhabited the Southern Division, in which all 4 teams finished the month better than .500. Perth (19-10) held a 6-game lead in the Western, while Dunedin (17-12) were the only decent team in the Overseas, Jakarta and Port Moresby both losing 20 or more games.

Si-xun Qiao took out Golden Bat, hitting .336 with 12HR at month’s end. 24 y/o Cam Pye won Golden Arm, going 6-0 with a 1.04 ERA, though Satya Susanti (6-0, 2.20 ERA, 53K at 10.6) could consider himself unlucky.

AUNZBL Standings, Nov 1
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2063/2064 Season - November

2063/2064 Season - November

Notable Performances

1 Nov: John Zglinicki came out on top in a pitchers’ duel, holding the Pioneers scoreless while conceding only 4 hits and walking none. He struck out 9, Central Coast winning 1-0, the game’s solitary scoring shot a HR off the bat of Alan Sneddon in the bottom of the 1st. The shutout was the 9th of 27 y/o Zglinicki’s career, putting him only 2 back from all-time leaders Jay Cummins and Keiran Tennant. Eddie Rayner was the only active pitcher ahead of him, with 10 shutouts, though Rayner’s last one came in the 2061 season. As a comparison, when 33 y/o Rayner was Zglinicki’s age he had 6 big-league shutouts to his name.

1 Nov: 37 y/o Manuel Alou went 3-5 in Christchurch’s narrow 8-7 loss to Auckland. His 3rd hit, a leadoff single in the 8th, was the 2000th of his career. Alou had been a big-league regular since 2049, and said after the game, “Yeah, to be honest, it feels like I should have at least another 500 hits by this stage of my career, doesn’t it?" Across 7911 plate appearances, Alou had a stat-line of .296/.388/.493, with 352 homers.

4 Nov: Nick Waterson beat up on the hapless Fury, his team of last season. He no-hit them until the 6th, only allowing 2 singles and 2 walks across a scoreless 9 innings. He fanned 8. Sydney went on to win 8-0.

5 Nov: Callum McCabe took out PotW. The 23 y/o was in fine fettle in 2063, this week’s effort of .577/.645/.885 catapulting him to the top of the season BA leaderboards (.423).

6 Nov: Everybody loves an extra-innings walk-off Grand Slam. Substitute RF Gary Woods delivered the goods for Wellington to give them a 6-2 win over Kununurra. Wellington had already scored in the 8th to level things before Woods had his hero moment in the 12th, launching an 0-1 fastball 429 feet over centrefield for the win.

7 Nov: Rich Steedman struck out 2 in a scoreless 9th to ensure Brisbane defeated Newcastle 4-2. He’d now successfully completed 47 consecutive save opportunities, a streak which tied him for 7th-best all-time. 32 y/o Steedman had been a closer for the Canberra Capitals in the ABC from 2058-2060, winning the league’s first 2 Golden Relief Awards. His current save streak had begun near the beginning of the 2062 season. After blowing his first opportunity of that campaign, he went on to save 39 games in a row. So far this season he had 8 saves.

7 Nov: In a low-scoring contest, typical of Central Coast this season, the Thunder scored 2 in the 7th to come back and beat the Sluggers 2-1. In the bottom of the 1st Alan Sneddon singled to left with 1 away. 6 pitches later, with the count 3-2 on Auger, Thunder skipper Reginald Reddick initiated a hit and run. Auger swung and missed but Sneddon dived into 2B without a throw, the catcher unable to get the ball out of his mitt. Career stolen base number 700 for the soon-to-be retired right-fielder. He’d stolen 253 more bases than any other player in AUNZBL history, the closest active competitor Stephane Lecomte, who had 412 steals. Lecomte, who’d not stolen less than 50 bases a season since debuting in 2056, was a good chance to catch Sneddon (though he’d only swiped 6 bases, from 8 attempts, so far this year) but for a wee while yet the record would remain Sneddon's, and nobody could ever take away the fact he was the first to get there.

Sneddon, hitting .290/.418/.363, with 1HR, for the season, was pumped to get to the mark. “Man, it’s taken me a while, hasn’t it, my old bones creaking every stride of the way. I spent the rest of the game thinking about it, and I’ll be honest, it’s a big achievement. Now to tick off that other goal: winning the Championship this year.”

9 Nov: Christchurch was generally batting 37 y/o Rowan Reardon at number 9 in their lineup but he didn’t seem too bothered, contributing at a much better clip than he had last season. In today’s 7-4 win over Canberra he hit in the 7 spot. He also cycled. It began with a triple in the 2nd, a triple which was only a triple because of a couple centimetres of CF wall and an awkward ricochet. He led off the 5th with a double before crunching a 2-run homer in the 6th. A single in the 8th completed the feat.

9 Nov: Umashankar Meenakshi had an excellent outing for Cairns against Hobart. He went the whole game, giving up just 3 hits while striking out 4 and allowing no earned runs. Hobart did score, though, getting across home-plate in the 6th thanks to an errant throw from the catcher on a steal attempt. Meenakshi was philosophical when asked later about what happened: “Hey, we won, didn’t we? That’s more important than personal accomplishment.” Cairns eased to a 7-1 victory.

12 Nov: Rowan Kimpton hit .588/.611/1.294, with 3 doubles and 3HR, on his way to PotW.

12 Nov: Auckland overcame the Diggers 7-4 thanks to a 3-run walk-off homerun from Reginald Puckeridge in the bottom of the 9th. Puckeridge, Auckland’s 25 y/o backup catcher, who scouts said had a high power ceiling but was still growing into it, started off the at-bat trying to bunt the runners ahead a base. His 2 bunt attempts went foul, after which he watched 2 balls pass. Then he got a fastball in the zone and let his wrists do the rest, pulling it over left field and into the bleachers.

14 Nov: Richard Moore was on a homerun tear in the first half of 2063. He slugged number 20 for the season in Adelaide’s 5-2 loss to Central Coast and was currently on another 4-game streak.

16 Nov: Greg Kent rifled the ball to all parts in Whangarei’s 11-inning 10-8 victory over Wellington. The result was a 5-6 performance, including 2 doubles.

17 Nov: Sydney put together a hit show against Christchurch, 20-7 in that category. However, that didn’t translate to runs on the board, the Blue Sox trailing until the 4th and never able to really pull away despite all the basepath pressure. The final score was 7-4 in their favour, both Cain Donaldson and Axel Nankervis going 4-5.

17 Nov: Rich Steedman became only the 7 pitcher in the history of the AUNZBL to go 50 saves without blowing 1, and the first to that mark since the recently-retired Rhett Thurley in 2051. He didn’t have too much cause for tension this game, coming to the mound with the Bandits leading Central Coast by 7-4. Alan Sneddon was his usual frustrating self, drawing a 2-out, 9-pitch walk but Miguel Ibanez could only strike out looking to give Steedman the save. Steedman didn’t really know how to put his accomplishment in words, umming and ahhing his way to, “Yeah, definitely special but I hope I’m not done just yet.”

Before signing with the Canberra Capitals for the ABC’s inaugural season in 2058, Steedman had been working as a tiler, having given up his baseball dream 12 years earlier when, as a 15 year-old, he couldn’t secure a transfer from his low-decile school to one with a decent baseball program. He tried out for the Capitals, in his words, “Because, why not?” and suddenly found himself signed up and in their first-grade bullpen. The next season he became their closer and was wooed across to the AUNZBL Bandits upon the conclusion of his contract.

A scouting report found on a popular baseball site said of him at the time of his entry to the AUNZBL, “Has great stuff, blows a lot of guys away, but good hitters will drive him a long way and has a tendency to miss the plate when under pressure.” He was going at greater than 1 homer per 9 innings in his AUNZBL stint so far and was certainly prone to giving up walks, having surrendered 10 already in 22.1 innings this season, but he trusted his stuff and so far that wasn’t letting him down.

17 Nov: Cairns tied the game up against Melbourne in the bottom of the 9th, and then Reginald Pickhills made them walk-off winners with a 3-run jack in the bottom of the 10th. 11-8 Cairns, Melbourne’s Oliwa Lomu blowing his 3rd save of the season as well as getting tagged with the loss.

18 Nov: Steedman picked up his 2nd loss of the season as Brisbane surrendered 2-1 to Central Coast in 10 innings. Still, he’d come in with the game tied so the save streak was still alive.

18 Nov: Baskoro Subagja was having an otherworldly 2063 so far. He threw 8 scoreless innings in Whangarei’s 3-0 win over Wellington, which gave him 21.1 scoreless innings on the trot. In fact, in 69.0 innings across 10 starts he’d only given up 9 earned runs for 4 wins and 1 loss. He had a league-leading 1.17 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. He’d obviously had some things go his way but his FIP of 2.91, third-best in the league, suggested not too many.

19 Nov: Wellington were still a rabble but at least Carlos Aguilar had a good week, taking home PotW. He hit .538/.647/.885, his 14-26 including 3 doubles and 2HR. He also drew 8 walks.

19 Nov: Aguilar celebrated his tribute by going 5-6 in a high-scoring encounter against Central Coast. Unfortunately for him, the Thunder prevailed over Wellington by the score of 13-10. Aguilar’s hits included a double and a HR. He also scored 3 runs and drove in 3. 28 y/o Aguilar now had five 5-hit games in his major-league résumé.

19 Nov: Eddie Rayner joined Jay Cummins and Keiran Tennant atop the all-time shutout list. He got there by 3-hitting Christchurch to help Kununurra to a 3-0 win. He walked 2 and struck out 4, combining his 5 pitches to great effect.

19 Nov: Rayner’s performance wasn’t the best of the day, however. That honour went to 27 y/o Auckland ace Domenic Jones. He hit a batter in the 2nd and allowed a walk the same inning but other than another walk in the 3rd and 8th he was lights out. No-hitter! Auckland won 3-0, Jones punching out 8 batters and accruing a game score of 92. He’d come a long way since 2060, his first full campaign in a big-league rotation, when he lost 19 games and walked a league-leading 108 hitters.

20 Nov: The Metros and Crocs battled it out in a high-scoring affair, the Metros eventually walking off 10-7 winners. Behind 7-4 heading into the 7th, Auckland eked a run back in that inning and in the 8th, to be just 1 in arrears going into the bottom of the 9th. Randall Oeltjen and Tommy Worsfold both struck out looking, Aaron Fingleson strutting around the mound like a peacock. Then Callum McCabe singled. Rich Downes also singled. Fingleson plunked Terence Murdock to juice the bases. Only 1 out needed but Fingleson wasn’t strutting anymore. 25 y/o Rob Carson came to the plate, getting a rare start. Prior to today’s game he was hitting .174 from 27PA with 1HR. He’d singled home a runner in the 6th already. He watched a fastball nick the zone and then a splitter miss low. Fingleson threw another fastball but this one crossed the plate belt-high. Carson crushed it, lofting it deep, deep, deep to centre. He stood for a couple moments to watch it go before starting on a slow trot, his head suitably lowered but his grin still visible. Walk-off Grand Slam, 10-7 Auckland!

21 Nov: Zachariah Pond bamboozled Canberra, leading Darwin to a 7-0 shutout. He allowed only 3 hits and 2 walks, fanning 6 and getting 17 groundball outs.

21 Nov: Adelaide were really struggling to get going in 2063, falling 9-7 to Brisbane today to take their overall record to 23-26. Moore did slug his 23rd HR of the season to score 3 in the 9th with 2 out, making it look like a game. Steedman then came to the mound to face Gary Young, who’d only returned to the big-league side after injury yesterday. With the count 2-2 Young hit a deep fly to centre but it was caught at the wall to end the game. Steedman’s save streak thus extended to 51, equalling the record of Robin Lightfoot, who’d put together 51 consecutive saves over the 2019 and 2021 season (it seems he missed the entire 2020 season with injury; the archives are spotty here). Next on the list was Rhett Thurley, with 52 saves.

22 Nov: Sydney 1B Nigel Anderton was quietly having an excellent first half. Today he went 5-5 in a 7-5 win over Melbourne. His hits included a solo HR. He drove in 2 as well as scoring twice. For the season Anderton had 15 homers, tied for second in the league, and 33 extra-base hits, 7 more than any other player.

22 Nov: This Crocs-Metros series had been an exciting one, with a no-hitter and a walk-off Grand Slam already. Both of those times Auckland had triumphed and they did so again in spectacular fashion today to clinch the series, Rich Downes handing Aaron Fingleson his second blown save of the match-up when he blasted a walk-off 3-run dinger in the bottom of the 9th to give his team a 7-5 victory. All up Downes was 3-5 with 4 ribbies and a run. Fingleson (3-3, 8 sv, 7.08 ERA) was not in a happy place after the game. “I really feel like I’m letting my new club down,” he said, “and with Sterling* pitching so well, I wonder how long before our roles get switched around.”

*Sterling Boston - 1-1, 2 sv, 0.87 ERA

25 Nov: Tristan Agar had come back from the torn labrum suffered in October of 2062 without missing a beat. He pushed his record to 7-3 by shutting out Hobart on the back of 4 hits, 0 walks and 3 strikeouts. Whangarei eased to a 9-0 victory, battering 16 hits along the way. 34 y/o Agar, who’d also injured his shoulder during the 2061 season, said, “I’ve just got to back myself. Yeah, I guess I’m always worried about hurting the shoulder again but all I can do is prepare well and make sure I throw with my whole body. Whatever happens after that happens.”

25 Nov: John ‘Mr. Dependable’ Zglinicki threw his second shutout of the season, blanking Perth to the tune of 6 hits, 0 walks, and 6 strikeouts. Central Coast won 5-0. Zglinicki now had 10 career shutouts, 1 off the all-time mark.

25 Nov: No other hitter was anywhere near Richard Moore. He hurtled to 26 homeruns with 2 blasts in Adelaide’s 6-4 win over Cairns. The second of those was the 300th of his career. He now had 11 more homers than any other AUNZBL hitter in 2063 and, incredibly, only 1 double.

26 Nov: In what seemed more an insult than an accolade, injured Carlos Aguilar (see Notable Injuries, 22 Nov) was awarded PotW despite playing only 3 games. In those 3 games he hit .750/.750/1.583, 9-12, with 4 doubles and 2HR.

26 Nov: Another shutout. This time Carlos Yanez easily subdued Sydney across 9 innings, allowing only 4 base hits and 2 walks. He struck out 4, Auckland winning 7-0 and moving to the head of the NZ division.

27 Nov: Steedman held Wellington off to see Brisbane to a 4-3 victory. Consecutive save #52, giving him the 5th-equal best streak in AUNZBL history. Number 4 was 55 saves, recorded by Travis Mullens back in 2020-2021.

28 Nov: Gustavo Sosa went 5-5 in Darwin’s 8-1 trouncing of Sydney. He drove in 5 of the Blue Sox’s runs, 4 coming courtesy of a Grand Salami in the 8th.

30 Nov: Andre Wiltshire was instrumental in Auckland’s 12-inning 4-3 victory over Kununurra. Not only did he hit the walk-off RBI-single, he also picked up 4 other hits in a 5-6 performance. Wiltshire was a potential free agent at season’s end and he was sure to attract a lot of interest if he went to market, especially as, at only 26 y/o, he would just about be entering his prime.

Notable Injuries

7 Nov: Allen Jiang (1-0), one of Adelaide’s offseason trade acquisitions, would play no further part in the season. He required RND surgery. He was one of the reasons Adelaide’s bullpen was ranked 2nd in the AUNZBL.

8 Nov: Adelaide CF Andrew Benbow (.268/.340/.402, 3HR) would be out of action for the next 5-6 weeks with a strained MCL.

11 Nov: Wellington’s Gilberto Soberon (.307/.368/.450, 4HR), one of the few bright spots in Wellington’s offense, was expected to miss around 5 weeks thanks to an ACL strain.

14 Nov: The Crocs were bouncing from one injury to the next. Claudio Lara (.297/.411/.435, 4HR) was the latest to head to the DL. He was expected to be out 5 weeks with a herniated disc. Brent Dwyer was still a week or so away from returning (bruised foot), while Javier Rodriguez’s return wouldn’t be for multiple weeks.

17 Nov: Offseason Hobart trade acquisition Rod Albury (.211/.253/.328, 5HR) sprained his wrist and would be on the DL 4-5 weeks.

20 Nov: Neil Bellett (.277/.399/.554, 13HR) separated his shoulder while making a diving catch in CF in Canberra’s 6-5 win over Darwin. He’d be gone at least 3-4 weeks.

21 Nov: 26 y/o rookie Fury 1B Harold Pryor (.266/.387/.392, 3HR) was gone for the season with a ruptured MCL.

22 Nov: Carlos Aguilar (.313/.398/.439, 4HR) was cruelly struck down with a torn quad. “Really gutting,” he said. “I feel like I’m in career-best form right now, too.” He’d been hitting .440/.505/.690 through November, all 4 of his HR coming in the month.

25 Nov: Whangarei’s James Bacosa (.270/.321/.398, 5HR) would be missing for the next month while he recuperated a fractured rib.

30 Nov: Wellington’s injury list kept growing, adding insult to the injury of their awful season. This time it was Peter Moy (.297/.373/.431, 5HR), who’d be out at least 6 weeks thanks to a fractured rib.

Notable Trades/Signings

4 Nov: Wellington took the opportunity to add some cattle to their farm system, sending 32 y/o C Yin-ti Zhuo (.235/.352/.373, 1HR) to Sydney in exchange for 4 prospects south of 25 years old.

Zhuo would become Sydney’s everyday catcher, relegating Jose Ojeda (.272/.344/.506, 6HR) to the backup role. Ojeda was an interesting fish. With a swing that scouts universally agreed was awful somehow Ojeda had put up decent numbers for Sydney last season after being traded across from Christchurch. Of his 98-353 he hit 14 doubles, 1 triple and 14HR, as well as drawing 40 walks. This season he’d started well, too, but the overall opinion was that he had to fall off a cliff sometime soon. One analyst said of him, “Look, he’s got decent pitch awareness and knows his strike-zone better than the average hitter, and his stroke is surprisingly powerful but really, with that overall cumbersome, slow swing, he should be struggling to hit .200 in the low minors.”

Ojeda had gone undrafted in the BL in 2049 before signing with Managua. Upon becoming a free agent in 2052, having failed to crack the BL top flight, he headed off to the NABA where he participated in 6 seasons. In 2058 he signed with Kununurra’s AAA-affiliate before getting elevated to the majors where he hit .340/.410/.434 in 62PA. He’d gone from Kununurra to Christchurch and then to Sydney, continually confounding the experts. He was no slouch defensively, either, winning a Gold Glove at catcher last season.

New Blue Sox skipper Peter Massingham (yes, that Peter Massingham who’d underwhelmed for so many years in Whangarei) said of Ojeda, “Sure, he’ll still feature in our lineup, of course. Nothing wrong with having two quality catchers, is there?”

9 Nov: Adelaide moved to cover the hole left in their bullpen by the injury to Allen Jiang. They acquired 26 y/o CL Moeaktola Liao (2-1, 8 sv) from Newcastle in return for 2 prospects. Liao, who threw an excellent fastball and a mesmerizing slider along with an occasional changeup, would immediately displace Bailey Naylor (1-4, 7 sv) as Adelaide’s closer. Currently Adelaide were 18-19, struggling to get out of first gear but only 2 games behind division leaders Cairns and Darwin.

12 Nov: 33 y/o John Foreman (.186/.217/.326, 2HR) was not a happy camper. Kununurra had just traded the out-of-form LF to Wellington in return for 29 y/o Vic Collins (.273/.302/.536, 7HR) and a decent IF prospect. Kununurra currently led the East-West by 3 games while Wellington languished at the bottom of the NZ, 10 games in arrears and doing nothing to inspire confidence that they’d turn their season around. “Look,” Foreman said upon arrival at Newcastle Airfield to join the Fury, who were in the middle of a 4-game set with the Roos, “of course I’ll still give my best every day, no matter which team I'm playing for. But sending me packing because of a slow start? C’mon, look at my career. I’ll come right. To be fair, there’s a few guys struggling at the offensive end in that lineup right now. We, sorry, Kununurra, are ranked, what, 15th in the league in BA. And yet we, they, are still leading the division. Just imagine what might’ve happened once we all clicked into gear. But this is how I see it. They’ll stay competitive until mid-December and then the wheels will fall off and they’ll finish the season below .500. Remember this and check in with me at the end of the season.” Across his career, Foreman was hitting .287/.352/.526, with 351 homeruns.

15 Nov: Adelaide and Cairns engaged in an unlikely swap, the Venom sending 26 y/o CF Todd Riseley (.296/.333/.574, 4HR) plus a minor-league catcher to the Crocs in exchange for 27 y/o OF Ben Murphy (.222/.263/.333, 1HR in 38 major-league PA).

29 Nov: Kununurra, currently with the best record in the league, moved to strengthen their offense and replace the veteran leadership lost in the Foreman trade by acquiring 37 y/o Manuel Alou (.310/.388/.496, 5HR) and cash from Christchurch in return for 2 fringe ML guys.

Month Awards

Rookie of the Month: 26 y/o Jay Watts, traded by Brisbane to Canberra during the offseason, was living up to his potential in 2063. In November, on his way to RotM, he hit .374/.430/.637, 34-91, with 14 runs, 4 doubles, 1 triple, 6HR, 13RBI, and 7 walks.

Hurler of the Month: Blair Norris was pretty good last season, going 17-7 with an 85 FIP-. He was going great guns in 2063 too, finishing the month with an overall 9-1 record, the best in the league. 6 of those wins came during November, where he put up a 0.96 ERA, 3.24 FIP, and 0.96 WHIP. His WAR for the month was 1.4, and he struck out 28 hitters in 46.2 innings.

Slugger of the Month: Once again, there was no going past Richard Moore, who continued to dominate the hitting leaderboards. He wasn’t quite as good in November as he had been in October, hitting only .327/.447/.743, 33-101, but his homerun game continued to be streets ahead of anybody else. He slugged 14 four-baggers during the month, 1 more than he had in October, though he had no other extra-base hits. None. Nada. Zilch. He scored 25 runs and drew 22 walks while only striking out 7 times. For the season, Moore was hitting .362/.477/.752, with 27HR. He sat astride the following leaderboards: OBP, SLG, OPS, wOBA (.494), HR, RBI (61), runs (51), ISO (.390), TB (158), and WAR (4.1). He was second in BA and walks (44) and, despite his lack of doubles, tied for third in XBH (28). His 76 hits were also third-best. It was a given he couldn’t continue this pace the whole season but that didn’t stop a whole lot of analysts gushing about what he might accomplish if he did.

Media Watch

Ismael Aguirre: Aguirre returned from injury on the 2nd, and headed straight into Central Coast’s starting lineup. He went 2-4 in an 8-2 loss to Darwin. The following night he was also 2-4, contributing the 702nd HR of his career in a 7-5 defeat of Newcastle. On the 4th he once more went 2-4, Central Coast again beating the Roos, this time 9-7. On the morning of the 5th he was demoted to AAA in a move universally labelled across baseball TV-land as “disgusting and disrespectful.”

Aguirre wasn’t available for comment, en-route to Glen Innes where he’d suit up for the Joes, but his manager had this to say, “Yes, he was surprised, no doubt about that. But I know Ismael will still put his all in, no matter who he’s playing for. But is this really the way to treat the greatest player of our generation, of our history to-date?”

This, of course, re-sparked the debate as to whether veterans should be allowed to refuse minor league assignment, a right the AUNZBL had removed in 2031. The split amongst fans and analysts was about 50-50.

Manuel Salinas, unsurprisingly, got in on the debate. Now playing for the Capitals in the ABC, Salinas rang a prominent baseball talkback show to say, “Hey, the same thing happened to me, didn’t it, playing for the same team, too, and nobody made a fuss. I think most of you were all like, ‘Yeah, serves the bigmouth right.’ But now it’s all ‘boohoo, respect the rights of the veterans, blah blah blah.' Aguirre just needs to suck it up and got on with it. I’ll tell you what, though, I’ve heard from a few around the Thunder camp who are pretty happy he’s not on their roster anymore.”

When pressed on why that might be, Salinas said, “I’m going to respect their privacy and not say anything else, except it doesn’t matter how many home runs you’ve hit, nobody should demand special treatment above and beyond what the rest of the team is getting. Especially when you’ve reached geriatric status.”

Central Coast management were quick to respond, saying, “Aguirre has been nothing but a true professional during his time here, and not once has asked for or received anything more than any other player on this team. We’re sure he’ll have plenty more opportunities this year to don the Thunder uniform but for now we just have too many hitters competing for a limited amount of roster spots.”

Aguirre started off his AAA stint great guns but by the 27th November had declined to a stat-line of .235/.316/.353, with 4 doubles and 2HR in 20 hits. Aguirre was recalled to the bigs on the 28th, at the expense of 27 y/o Pedro Mercado, who was placed on waivers and snaffled up by Melbourne. The Aces immediately put Mercado in the meat of their lineup, new GM Brendon Benbow telling media he couldn’t believe his luck.

Back in a Thunder uniform, Aguirre played the last 3 games of the month, managing a hit in just 1 of them. That hit was a double and ended with him scoring, leaving him needing only 13 more runs to reach 2000.

Marcos Lopez: Lopez was certainly looking like his nickname of ‘Tired’ so far this season, his OPS+ just 76. He was hitting .250/.315/.350, with 45 hits so far. That left him needing 17 to reach 3000.

Jose de la Cruz: He was humming along, hitting .311/.413/.444, his 7 triples tying him for the league lead. The 47 runs he’d scored placed him second on that board too. The only negative was his subpar defence in leftfield, which the Crocs had fixed by moving him to DH.

Other Notes

Coastal Division: In a rough-and-tumble month, Cairns (14-14) finished on top, just, leading Darwin (16-12) by 1 game. Adelaide (15-13) were 3 games back.

East-West Division: Kununurra (16-12) continued to defy expectations, extending their lead to 5. Brisbane (13-15) and Central Coast (14-14) were tied up for second, 1 game below .500.

NZ Division: Whangarei (19-9) had a strong month to rise to the top of the NZ, Auckland (15-13) 1 game behind, Christchurch (12-16) dropping below .500, 4 games in arrears.

Southern Division: Sydney (13-15) did just enough to stay ahead of Hobart (13-15), while Melbourne (13-15) remained 2 games back.

Wildcard: Darwin and Auckland with Adelaide in the rearview mirror, the Prospects just behind them. Brisbane, Central Coast, Christchurch, and Melbourne were all below .500 but only 3 games out of a wildcard spot.


Callum McCabe (.382/.464/.560, 3HR) led the league in BA and in doubles (23).

Yoshihito Morimoto (.344/.370/.389, 0HR) had the most hits (84) and stolen bases (21).

Perth’s Angus Beckett (.289/.333/.402, 2HR) was tied with de la Cruz at the top of the triples ladder, with 7.

Alan Sneddon (.230/.374/.293, 1HR) was struggling to put the ball safely in play but he was still the best at picking pitches and judging strikezones. He led the league in walks, with 45, and remained the only player in AUNZBL history to draw more than 2000 free passes. He currently had 2221 to his name. The next-best active player was Justin Auger (.214/.275/.410, 8HR, 14BB in 2063), with 1124.

Nigel Anderton (.301/.365/.594, 15HR) had the most XBH (36).

Baskoro Subagja (5-2, 1.78 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 1.01 WHIP) led the league in ERA, as well as in OAVG (.204), and H/9 (6.56).

Barry Dean (3-5, 2.79 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 1.10 WHIP) continued to be the best pitcher in baseball, even if he played for one of the worst teams. He led the league in FIP, IP (93.2), strikeouts (81), and WAR (3.4).

Marty Okolita (3-5, 5.53 ERA, 4.87 FIP, 1.36 WHIP) was the only qualified pitcher striking out hitters at a rate of more than 10 per 9 innings (10.40).

Domenic Jones (6-3, 2.59 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 0.97 WHIP) led the league in WHIP.

Isaac Canavan was the best closer, with 16 saves.

ABC Wrap-up

Brisbane were unstoppable in the Northern, their record after 2 months 42-14. Canberra (38-19), led the Southern by 3 games over Sydney (35-22), Melbourne (32-25) 6 games back. Perth (32-25) were no longer a sub .500 team, atop the Western by 4 games. Dunedin (36-21) were way too good in the Overseas, their lead now 9.

31 y/o Gao Chin had never really got a fair go in the AUNZBL, ending up backup catcher wherever he played bar the 2060 season, when he had 427PA for 2 teams. He’d always impressed scouts with his power, even if his plate discipline wasn’t great. Now in the ABC, he was getting the chance to play every day and was making the most of it. The Hobart Hammerheads catcher won the November Golden Rookie Award. For the season he was hitting .347/.414/.633, with 14HR.

37 y/o Baden Henderson found himself in the closing role in his second ABC season. The Brisbane Bronco had 20 saves so far, the best in the ABC.

AUNZBL Standings, Dec 1
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2063/2064 Season - December

2063/2064 Season - December

2063 #1 Draft Pick

Melbourne had first pick this year and they went with 22 y/o SS Vinnie ‘Muddy’ Hanscombe. He projected to be an excellent, albeit free-swinging, hitter with great power. He was also known as steadfastly loyal with a strong drive to win. Melbourne assigned him to their single-A affiliate.

A quick look at how the previous 4 #1 draft picks were doing:

2062, Brendan Penfold: Currently injured with shoulder inflammation, Penfold had started the season at AAA in the bullpen. At AA last year he’d gone 9-3 with a 1.78 FIP.

2061, Axel Zhou: A broken kneecap meant he wouldn’t play again this season but he had nailed down the Auckland everyday CF spot prior to injury, hitting .259/.344/.424, with 2HR and an OPS+ of exactly 100.

2060, Richard Page: Darwin’s backup catcher this year as he had been last year. Hadn’t quite grown into his offensive potential yet, but Darwin’s coaching staff were confident he’d be there sooner rather than later.

2059, Domenic Cook: Cracked 34 doubles and 34HR last season on the way to putting up 5.4 WAR, and was projecting to hit even more homers this season, with 20 already at a .282 clip.

Notable Performances

1 Dec: Roy Blake gave Perth very little to hit, conceding just 5 hits while striking out 6. Brisbane eased to an 8-0 victory, Domenic Cook bashing 2 homeruns for the second straight night. Blake had thrown 3 shutouts last season and today’s effort gave him 4 for his career.

3 Dec: 30 y/o Brisbane C/DH Russell Smith won PotW, hitting .545/.600/1.000. 6 of his 12 hits were for extra bases, consisting of 4 doubles and 2HR.

3 Dec: 25 y/o Gary Ward hit for the cycle in Wellington’s 12-9 win over Perth. He tripled in the 3rd, homered in the 4th, doubled in the 6th, and singled in the 8th, scoring 3 and driving in 3. Before this game Ward had been hitting .167. His 4-5 effort drove his BA up to .192.

4 Dec: “Just beautiful to watch,” Fury skipper Matthew Throsby said, shaking his head. “I mean, he’s great to watch every time he starts but when he’s in this kind of mood all you can do is watch. You can’t stop the freight train.” Who was he talking about? Heat superstar Barry Dean, who’d just whitewashed them 5-0. Dean didn’t strike a hitter out in the first 2 innings but even so, it was like he had the ball on a string. He walked a batter to lead off the 4th but nobody else got aboard heading into the 9th and Dean trotted to the mound looking at a no-hitter. Gary Ward ground out off the first pitch of the inning. Luigi Auger also ground out. Malcolm Chin didn’t make great contact on a 1-1 curve but he got enough on it to slap it wide of the 3B. The 37000 fans groaned as one and Dean spent a few seconds crouched on the side of the mound. A couple pitches later and backup catcher Joey Wanhalla, getting a rare start, totally messed up on a cutter, the ball skittling to the backstop. Chin raced to 2B and suddenly everybody was wondering if Wellington might really ruin the party and score a run. But Luis Martinez could only fly out to left. 1-hitter, with 1 walk and 7 strikeouts. Dean improved to 4-5 on the season.

5 Dec: Hobart destroyed Brisbane 13-0. Leadoff man Andre Bond was a big contributor, going 5-5 with a double and triple. He also scored 4 runs. 1B Baskoro Maryadi was 4-5 with a double and 2HR, tying the Hobart game record of 7RBI.

7 Dec: John Foreman’s form had turned around, just as he’d predicted. Wellington were glad of it, especially today, as he led them to a 13-3 mauling of Hobart. He jacked a 2-run HR in the 3rd, hit another 2-run shot in the 4th, and completed the trifecta with a solo shot in the 7th. All up he was 3-4, with 4 runs and 5RBI. This was the first time Foreman had hit 3HR in a match in his pro career.

9 Dec: Getting your first major-league homerun was always a nice accomplishment but it was especially memorable for 22 y/o Thunder SS Jesus Feuntes. He’d gone 0-4 before coming up in the bottom of the 10th with the scores knotted at 4-4 and 1 away. He left two fastballs, one low, one high, alone before latching onto the third and sending it into the upper RF deck. Walk-off homerun! Fuentes, from Chile, wore his mustache and goatee like he was a 19th century aristocrat, and as he touched home-plate his teammates rushed out to mob him, each and every one making sure to tug on his ‘stache.

10 Dec: Calvin Hodnett hit 5 homers in the last week on his way to winning the weekly accolade. Overall he hit .368/.429/1.263.

10 Dec: 22 y/o John Ramirez had won a spot in Newcastle’s rotation this season after featuring out of the bullpen in 2062. Management acknowledged the southpaw wasn’t yet “a finished product” but felt his development would only be fast-tracked by starting against big-league players every 5 days. Ramirez was already popular among the fans for his never-say-die attitude, and was often spotted leaning on the dugout railings on his days off cheering the team on, even when they were down by 5 with 1 out left in the 9th. Today his teammates were the ones cheering him on, however, as he completed a 4-hit, 3-walk shutout of Darwin. It was a gritty performance, particularly in the later innings, which saw him throw 111 pitches and only strike out 1 hitter. Newcastle won 5-0.

12 Dec: Jacob Sheppard went 4-4 in Whangarei’s 12-9 loss to Darwin. All 4 of his hits were doubles, equalling the AUNZBL game record. This had last been accomplished in 2057 by Zachary Pengilly. Sheppard was the 8th player in AUNZBL history to hit 4 doubles in a game.

13 Dec: Ricardo Ortiz battered the Crocs around in Kununurra’s 14-3 demolition derby win. He went 5-5, 4 singles and a double, scoring 4 runs and bringing 1 home.

14 Dec: Today was the day! 39 y/o Marcos Lopez was in the losing team, his Blue Sox falling 9-3 to the Venom, but nobody could take the grin off his face. He doubled in the top of the 2nd, a cracking line-drive that found the alley in left. He ground out next time up but latched onto the first pitch he faced in the 6th, this time finding the gap between right and centre. He dived in safely to 2B and everybody, players included, stopped and applauded. Career hit number 3000! Lopez was only the 5th player to reach that hallowed ground, joining Aguirre, Alastair Mildren, Ashley Snijders, and Brock Wakely.

“I can’t believe it,” Lopez said in the lockers after the game. “Maybe tomorrow I will, I don’t know. 3000! Wow!”

15 Dec: Auckland and Brisbane slugged it out - in more ways than one - at Bandits’ Stadium, Auckland running out 19-11 winners. The game got spicy early after Terence Murdock homered off the first pitch in the top of the 2nd. Before heading around the bases he shouted, “Oh yeah!” and clapped his hands together a couple times. Brisbane pitcher Juan Jose Morales, who’d already given up 3 runs in the first frame, took exception to Murdock’s celebrations and beaned next man up, 24 y/o Rodney Trembath. Trembath immediately threw his bat down and charged the mound. Cue bench-clearing brawl and both players ejected. Both were later suspended for 6 games each. Auckland scored 10 in the 5th, a Rod Carson (Trembath’s replacement) Grand Slam capping off the exhibition, to lead 18-0 before Brisbane got themselves some respectability on the scorecard.

16 Dec: Rowan Kimpton hit in his 20th straight game, doing so by blasting a 3-run HR in Christchurch’s 10-1 mauling of Perth. He went 2-4 on the night and was hitting .333 for the year, his 23HR tying him for second in that race.

16 Dec:: Kimpton’s teammate Beau Hauer won PotW, hitting .481/.600/1.111. Of his 13 hits, 5 were doubles and 4 went for maximum bases.

17 Dec:: Steedman gave up 2 hits and an earned run but held steady to keep Auckland at bay in a 5-3 Brisbane victory. Consecutive save #55, equalling the streak set by Travis Mullens in 2021, 4th-best all-time. Steedman might not have been expecting to pitch in this one, as the Bandits trailed 2-1 heading into the bottom of the 8th. They rallied to score 4 and Steedman found himself on the mound with a save opportunity. Sean Morrow was Steedman’s next target. Morrow had put together a 57-game save streak across the 2030-2032 seasons.

18 Dec: Darwin’s Dylan Durrington was not, as one commentator described him, “a pretty pitcher to watch.” His delivery was awkward. His pitches weren’t, as current parlance favoured, “heavy.” But while his velocity wasn’t high and his curveball and slider didn’t have highlight-reel movement they did have late dip and dive, making powerful contact difficult. Durrington also located his pitches well, nicking the corners and cramping hitters up. Today against Central Coast he was sublime, perfect until the 5th when he gave up the first of 2 hits allowed. He walked none and struck out 3, completing a 106-pitch shutout. The Diggers coasted to a 10-0 win. This was 28 y/o Durrington’s first big-league shutout.

20 Dec: Rowan Kimpton’s hitting streak was snapped at 21 in Christchurch’s 8-0 defeat of Hobart. Kimpton went 0-4. The Prospects’ hitters struggled as well, only able to manage 1 hit between them all game.

21 Dec: Wellington took an early lead against Auckland but the Metros came back to tie it up in the bottom of the 6th. That was all the scoring through regulation innings. In the bottom of the 12th Leo Walena led off with a single. Randall Oetjen cracked a double to left but Walena held up at 3B. Rich Downes was ushered on to 1B via intentional walk. That brought 32 y/o Terence Murdock to the plate. Murdock was getting an extended run in Auckland’s lineup due to injuries and had been 0-5 in the game up to this point. A 1-1 fastball quickly disappeared off his bat over LF, doing enough to clear the fence and land in the glove of someone in the crowd. Walk-off extra-innings Grand Slam! Auckland won 8-4, Murdock saying that HR, the 35th of his major-league career, would be one he’d never forget. Murdock had been discovered by the Cavalry as a 26 y/o playing in a semi-pro league, and despite having featured in 351 major-league games since 2058 still had under 3 years of service time.

23 Dec: Isaac Hanson led the Bandits to a 4-0 shutout win over the Diggers. He allowed just 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7.

24 Dec: Gary Young was named PotW, hitting .444/.524/1.167, with 4HR.

24 Dec: Most pitchers were left quaking at the thought of Adelaide’s offensive prowess. Not Edward Vance, however. He threw his second shutout of the season against them, helping Christchurch to a 4-0 win. He allowed 7 hits, walked none and struck out 5.

25 Dec: Steedman gave up a 2-out single but held on for the save, Brisbane doing the business against Canberra by the score of 3-1. Consecutive save number 57, tying Steedman with Sean Morrow for third-best all-time streak. 1 save ahead was the redoubtable Brodie Backhouse, who’d saved 58 consecutive games across the 2044-2045 seasons.

26 Dec: The Venom were shut out again, this time by Cowboys’ pitcher Dan Pankhurst. Pankhurst held his nerve in a low-scoring thriller, getting Christchurch across the line 1-0. The game’s only scoring act came in the bottom of the 1st, when Bryan McMullen scampered home on a ground-out after earlier doubling. Pankhurst allowed 3 hits and 2 walks, fanning 6. This was 38 y/o Pankhurst’s first shutout since the 2057 season.

27 Dec: Sydney led Whangarei by a comfortable 6 runs to 2 heading into the top of the 9th. Reliever Scott McAuley had recorded the last out in the 8th and stayed on the mound to begin the final inning. Glen Donovan singled and David Anderton cracked his 20th HR of the year. 2-run ballgame and closer Rory Karsumaatmaja subbed in. James Bacosa singled. Yuan-zhang Lao leaned into an inside pitch and took his base. Karsumaatmaja couldn’t gather in a return groundball and Dan Eveson got on-base. Greg Kent walked to score Bacosa. 1-run game. Victor Beamish also fought his way to a walk and the scores were tied. Javier Flores replaced Karsumaatmaja and quickly got the next 2 outs. Up again, Donovan singled 2 runners home to give Whangarei the lead for the first time since the top of the 1st. Anderton wore a pitch on his upper arm. Bacosa doubled. 2 more runners scored and the inning ended with Whangarei improbably 4 runs ahead. The bottom of the inning was negotiated easily, the Sluggers winning 10-6.

30 Dec: Brisbane scored 4 in the bottom of the 9th against Cairns to walk off 9-8 winners. Amazingly, they managed to do so with only 1 hit, a leadoff double to Ben Eissens. Damian Flemming, throwing out of the Cairns bullpen this season as his arm was rapidly and noticeably falling off, then hit Ira Schit before issuing 3 consecutive walks to Russell Smith, Norm Blume and Domenic Cook. The net result was 2 runs scoring and Tristan Eastick hurrying to the mound. Tashiaki Yano flied out to right. Rupert Bethune took an 0-2 pitch on his shin, bringing home the tying run. John Roberts struck out looking before Pete Mulholland became the 4th walk of the inning, Blume able to stroll home unopposed to secure the victory.

31 Dec: Angus Wheeler took out PotW, hitting .419/.455/.839, his 13 hits including 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 3HR.

Notable Injuries

1 Dec: Andre Wiltshire (.354/.435/.516, 4HR) would miss the next month with a sore shoulder.

2 Dec: A dejected Quentin Welch (.308/.361/.519, 10HR) confirmed to media that he was done for the season thanks to a torn labrum. “It sucks madly,” he said. “There’s not really any other way to describe it.” Sources within the Venom organization said that Welch had still been keeping his eye in as a pitcher, throwing at least twice a week, but stressed that was very unlikely to be the reason for his injury.

3 Dec: Newcastle would have to do without Nathan Kapuna (.293/.360/.478, 8HR) for the next 4 weeks due to a hamstring strain.

4 Dec: Larry Booth (.313/.442/.398, 0HR) was an exceptionally talented hitter but his nickname of ‘Iron Man’ had to be ironic. He’d miss at least the next month with a pinched nerve in his neck. He’d been a big-league regular for the last 4 seasons but only once had passed the 502PA mark, doing so in 2061.

9 Dec: 2057 #1 overall pick Miguel Ibanez (.250/.303/.435, 11HR) had yet to play a full season in the bigs thanks to injuries. The closest he’d come so far was 466PA in 2061. Now he had a fractured hand and would miss at least 5 weeks of this season because of it.

13 Dec: Malcolm Pickhills (.265/.385/.511, 13HR) was off to the DL with torn ankle ligaments. 5 weeks, perhaps more.

15 Dec: Auckland added another to their injury list. This time it was Callum McCabe (.382/.455/.589, 7HR) who’d miss 3-4 weeks with a high ankle strain. McCabe had the best BA in the league by 25 points at the time of his injury.

16 Dec: 2062 SS Super Slugger Nathaniel Bowden (.269/.302/.439, 7HR) was done for the season after he fractured his ankle.

18 Dec: Stephane Lecomte (.298/.362/.400, 1HR) had a fractured rib and would miss around 6 weeks.

28 Dec: 18 y/o Wei-quo Guo had been signed by the Crocs out of Taiwan. Still training in their international complex, Guo had garnered a reputation for being ultra-competitive and having a very short fuse. Today he was on the losing end of a baseball VR game. Predictably angry, he hurled his headset across the room with such force that it shattered on impact with the wall. That wasn’t the only damage done, however. Guo collapsed to the ground grasping his back. He’d herniated a disc. While not a major injury, it was certainly an amusing one to the rest of the young players training at the Cairns’ international complex as well as some of the coaches. “Yep,” said one, with a wide smile, “it was funny, all right. Especially his scream. Really high-pitched. Not that we’re condoning make fun of people hurting themselves, or whatever. But sometimes, with some people, you kinda just have to laugh.”

Notable Trades/Signings

1 Dec: 29 y/o Vic Collins (.236/.282/.427, 7HR) had been poor since being traded across to Kununurra (.149/.241/.170, 0HR in 54PA) but the Pioneers were keen to secure his services longer term. To that end, both parties today agreed on a 2-year extension, the second year a vesting option.

11 Dec: Cairns wanted an upgrade at catcher. They felt that veteran Gary Baker (.246/.321/.372, 6HR) was beginning to decline but were loath to trade the 4-time All Star and popular clubman away. Enter Melbourne, who had a great-looking talent in 27 y/o Michael Baker (.257/.321/.429, 3HR from 78PA) - no relation to Gary - playing as backup to Vern Bull. Not only did Michael Baker have great power and a decent eye, he was also an excellent defensive catcher who covered the plate well and could throw out base-stealers from his knees.

Melbourne were 31-35, currently at the bottom of the Southern but only 3 games behind leaders Sydney. Melbourne wanted pitching. They played in a hitter’s ballpark which didn't help matters but even so, their pitching was awful in 2063, ranked 15th overall, with the most hits and runs allowed. Cairns was only mid-range in that department but their rotation was ranked 5th in the league. Could they afford to part with one of their starters? They were just 1 game back from Darwin in the Coastal, with Adelaide biting at their heels, and were 1 game up in the wildcard.

Rumour had it that Melbourne initially wanted 27 y/o Kent Wells, a 5’8” whippet who let in runs but looked to finally be growing into his potential. But Cairns didn’t want to part with him. Neither did they want to part with 28 y/o Umashankar Meenakshi (7-4, 3.99 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 1.18 WHIP), who was bouncing back after an unsettled first season in a Crocs’ uniform. But Melbourne GM Brendon Benbow wouldn’t budge. Meenakshi or nothing. And so, eventually, Cairns acquiesced. Meenakshi for Baker. Melbourne would slot Meenakshi into the middle of their rotation and Cairns would immediately make Michael Baker their everyday catcher.

2063 All Stars

Despite the outcry surrounding last year’s All Star Game, the format remained the same for 2063, though the AUNZBL promised “substantial changes in the near future.”

Australian All Stars

SP Eddie Rayner - KUN - 9-4, 2.97 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 1.22 WHIP
SP Edward Vance - CHR - 9-3, 3.02 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 1.22 WHIP
SP Blair Norris - KUN - 11-3, 3.36 ERA, 4.02 FIP, 1.27 WHIP
SP Dan Holz - MEL - 10-4, 3.35 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 1.24 WHIP
SP Greg Ahern - ADE - 8-5, 4.71 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 1.22 WHIP
SP Victor Doubleday - CAI - 7-5, 3.74 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 1.25 WHIP
SP Tim Waymouth - AUC - 4-5, 3.94 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 1.29 WHIP
RP Scott Carson - CHR - 3-1, 2 sv, 2.42 ERA, 1.94 FIP, 1.39 WHIP
RP Ryan Digby - CHR - 0-0, 5 sv, 2.53 ERA, 2.23 FIP, 1.10 WHIP
CL Rich Steedman - BRI - 3-4, 18 sv, 2.72 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 1.07 WHIP
CL Rod Bacon - DAR - 4-1, 15 sv, 1.65 ERA, 2.43 FIP, 0.84 WHIP
CL Isaac Canavan - CEN - 6-2, 22 sv, 2.53 ERA, 2.90 FIP, 1.03 WHIP
C Jay Watts - CAN - .332/.383/.551, 15HR
C Kent Okolita - DAR - .299/.402/.533, 15HR
1B Ronald Aitken - CAI - .296/.409/.472, 12HR
1B Norm Blume - BRI - .295/.347/.500, 15HR
1B David Anderton - WHA - .272/.384/.554, 20HR
1B Rich Downes - AUC - .298/.363/.509, 17HR
2B Domenic Cook - BRI - .291/.357/.594, 26HR
2B Axel Nankervis - SYD - .325/.365/.477, 10HR
3B Matthew Utting - CHR - .252/.325/.406, 9HR
3B Lachlan Limeburner - CAN - .256/.326/.460, 15HR
SS Nicholas Bennett - NEW - .334/.360/.521, 11HR
LF Caspar Purcell - MEL - .290/.388/.534, 16HR
LF Brent Dwyer - CAI - .302/.363/.478, 10HR
CF Rory Delaney - MEL - .318/.349/.424, 5HR
RF Calvin Hodnett - PER - .279/.344/.505, 17HR
RF Alan Sneddon - CEN - .245/.386/.296, 1HR

NZ & Overseas All Stars

SP Barry Dean - PER - 7-6, 2.37 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 0.99 WHIP
SP Baskoro Subagja - WHA - 7-2, 2.01 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.11 WHIP
SP Domenic Jones - AUC - 7-6, 2.45 ERA, 3.29 FIP, 1.05 WHIP
SP Pedro Montanez - CHR - 10-5, 3.43 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 1.25 WHIP
SP Karl Blackwell - MEL - 5-6, 3.25 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 1.23 WHIP
SP Roderick Beresford - NEW - 8-5, 3.30 ERA, 3.71 FIP, 1.25 WHIP
SP Ted Heathcote - CHR - 9-6, 4.08 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 1.19 WHIP
SP Clint Kline - CAI - 8-4, 4.32 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 1.24 WHIP
RP Sterling Boston - CAI - 2-1, 2 sv, 2.76 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 1.22 WHIP
RP Natsume Ojima - CAN - 4-1, 2 sv, 2.83 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 1.17 WHIP
CL Rhett Morgenstern - CAN - 1-2, 15 sv, 1.52 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 1.42 WHIP
CL Alwin de Lange - WHA - 1-2, 18 sv, 3.45 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 1.21 WHIP
C Rowan Kimpton - CHR - .333/.358/.619, 23HR
C Vern Bull - MEL - .295/.446/.551, 17HR
1B Richard Moore - ADE - .348/.462/.712, 33HR
1B Lance Fookes - CHR - .277/.329/.503, 17HR
2B Luis Cuesta - MEL - .290/.338/.548, 19HR
2B Beau Hauer - CHR - .295/.360/.495, 15HR
3B Mario Correa - CAI - .331/.368/.598, 17HR
3B Jacob Sheppard - WHA - .303/.373/.498, 9HR
SS Chi-seong Lee - CAI - .329/.355/.498, 9HR
SS Bailey Kinnear - SYD - .319/.405/.470, 9HR
LF Jose de la Cruz - CAI - .311/.425/.436, 3HR
LF Angel Rivera - DAR - .327/.352/.510, 12HR
CF Neil Bellett - CAN - .274/.402/.543, 16HR
CF Edgardo Rico - WHA - .319/.357/.414, 3HR
RF Tashiaki Yano - BRI - .304/.345/.516, 13HR
RF Ignacio Maldonado - HOB - .290/.356/.455, 12HR

Hobart’s lone All Star representative, first-time New Zealand & Overseas All Star Ignacio Maldonado, took to social media with the following quip after seeing a picture of the Australian All Stars, “What do whipped cream, tissues, and the Australian All Stars have in common? They’re all really white...”

This wasn’t the first mention over the last few years of the relative whiteness of those who qualified for the Australian All Stars in comparison to those who qualified for the New Zealand & Overseas All Stars. In times past a shrug by the AUNZBL along with a throwaway, “Well, the fans love the concept,” was enough to pour water on any flames. However, the fans didn’t currently love the AUNZBL All Stars feature and that, along with the sweeping changes taking place in the political and social climate in Australasia at the time, meant the soil was just right for Maldonado’s comment to take root and quickly grow.

The AUNZBL just as swiftly responded by saying that many of the 2063 Australian All Stars had indigenous heritage. That wouldn’t quell the screaming masses, however.

While it’s not something we’ll touch on too much in this narrative - this season and next have already been the subject of many a historical documentary and book, some accurate, some full of hyperbole - suffice to say that this was a tumultuous period for the AUNZBL. The Betting in Baseball saga had caused a splash but not much more. This furore - and how the AUNZBL Commissioner’s office handled it - nearly caused a tsunami. While the league’s overall popularity didn’t diminish, there were howls aplenty within fandom and the media for AUNZBL governance to be drastically reformed.

In many ways, it could be said that Maldonado’s pointed joke was the catalyst behind many of the things that happened in baseball over the next decade.

Month Awards

Rookie of the Month: Jay Watts again. The lantern-jawed youngster hit .343/.391/.606 in December, going 34-99, with 11 runs, 5 doubles, 7 dingers, 17RBI, and 9BB.

Hurler of the Month: Super closer Isaac Canavan went 4-0, with 6 saves, from 12 appearances in the month. Across the 15 high-pressure innings he threw he allowed an ERA of just 1.80, an FIP of 3.22, and a WHIP of 1.13. He also struck out 25 hitters at a rate of 15 per 9 innings.

Slugger of the Month: Perhaps John Foreman used the anger he felt at being traded by Kununurra in November as fuel for a vicious assault on pitching in December. He hit .307/.368/.746 across the month, 15 of his 35 hits clearing the fence, and another 5 resulting in double-bases. His 35-114 was complemented by 27 runs, 32RBI, and 9 walks.

Media Watch

Ismael Aguirre: Aguirre stayed up in the bigs the entire month, starting 20 games and hitting a paltry .147/.256/.306, with 1HR and 1 double in 10 hits. He scored 3 runs, taking him to 1990 for his career, with betting split 50-50 either way as to whether he’d make it to 2000 this year or not. The odds were much lower that he’d retire completely after this season, particularly after an interview he gave mid-month where he opined on how frustrating it was to still love playing the game but to be unable to play to the level he had in yesteryears. In that same interview, when pressed about his demotion to AAA, Aguirre responded with a firm, “That’s not something I’m willing to talk about one way or the other. Next question, please.”

Jose de la Cruz: The first-time All Star’s BA dropped some in December but his OBP was better than in November, which meant, according to one analyst, that he “knows what to do when his swing wasn’t feeling so good: dial it back and make the pitchers work even more for his outs.” For the month he hit .279/.413/.396. For the year he was hitting .300/.413/.427, with 13 doubles, 7 triples, and 4HR among his 92 hits. He led the league in runs scored, with 72, and was also third-equal in stolen bases, having nabbed 23 so far. His 56 walks were sixth-highest.

Other Notes

Coastal Division: Cairns (14-15) started the month off leading the division but found themselves in third place at month’s end, though they only trailed Adelaide (18-11) and Darwin (16-13) by 1 game, with both the Venom and Diggers tied for top spot.

East-west Division: Kununurra (16-13) maintained their 5-game advantage but could pull no further ahead, Central Coast (16-13) tracking them every step of the way. Brisbane (15-14) fell 1 game further behind.

NZ Division: Christchurch (19-10) surged to the top of the NZ, leading a slowing Sluggers (13-16) by 2 games, with Auckland (13-16) an extra game in arrears.

Southern Division: The Southern was the worst division in baseball. Melbourne (14-15) and Sydney (12-17) were tied for first, both 2 games below .500. Despite falling to 6 games below par, Hobart (11-18) were only 2 games off the lead, with Canberra (13-16) also still in the hunt, just 3 games back despite having a 39-47 record.

Wildcard: Either Adelaide or Darwin held one slot, 1 game ahead of Cairns. Whangarei were 2 games back, Auckland and Central Coast 3, while Brisbane, playing .500 ball, were 4 games behind.


Callum McCabe (.382/.455/.589, 7HR) was still a week or so away from returning but currently qualified for the hitting leaderboards. He had the best BA among qualified batters, by some margin.

Richard Moore (.348/.461/.706, 34HR) had the second-best BA, and led the league outright in OBP, SLG, OPS, wOBA (.476), ISO (.358), total bases (221), HR, RBI (85), and WAR (5.4). He only hit 7HR in December, adding 7 doubles and 1 triple to his previous tally of 1 non-HR extra-base hit.

Somehow no place was found in the NZ&O All Stars for Yoshihito Morimoto (.326/.351/.361, 0HR) despite him leading the league in hits (121), and potentially heading for his third Gold Glove (+9.0ZR).

Guillermo Julio (.323/.391/.508, 8HR) missed out on All Star selection because of injury. He’d already collected a massive 12 triples and had stolen 29 bases, both league bests.

Free-swinging Nicholas Bennett (.335/.359/.536, 13HR) led the league in doubles, with 29.

Alan Sneddon (.243/.388/.292, 1HR), obviously awarded his twelfth All Star cap as a tribute to his long and storied career, led the AUNZBL in walks, with 68.

Barry Dean (7-6, 2.43 ERA, 2.56 FIP, 0.98 WHIP) was on track for a 10+ WAR season. Currently he had 5.6, well ahead of next-best. He also topped the FIP, WHIP, Ks (125), and IP (141.0) boards.

Marty Okolita (6-6, 4.96 ERA, 4.58 FIP, 1.22 WHIP) was reportedly the centre of some friction within the Central Coast dressing rooms, with one anonymous source saying, “Sure, the guy’s a strikeout machine but does he really have to make everything about himself?” So far, Okolita’s 119 punch-outs had come at a rate of 10.01 per 9 innings, by far the best among the AUNZBL’s starting pitchers. This despite several scouting sources being of the opinion that the 34 y/o’s stuff didn’t look as impressive this year as in season’s past.

4 pitchers were tied with 22 saves. Isaac Canavan, Rich Hodgson, Moeaktola Liao, and Isaac Graham. Graham currently had a 30-game save streak going. He threw an excellent sinker and knuckle curve plus a changeup that only came out when he was ahead in the count, and even then not very often.

ABC Wrap-up

Brisbane (60-22) continued to be out of reach of everybody else in the Northern, their lead over Alice Springs (44-39) 16 1/2 games at the midway point of the season.

Sydney (52-31) led Canberra (51-32) by a solitary game in the Southern, with Melbourne (48-35) 4 games back.

Perth (44-39) had been below par in both November and December but still held a 5-game advantage in the ABC.

Dunedin (50-33) were 14 games clear in the Overseas.

Si-xun Qiao (.333/.427/.664, 29HR) was out in front in the HR stakes by 7, and also led all hitters in WAR, with 5.2. Hot on his heels, though, was 27 y/o Anekelea Kolet (.326/.382/.508, 11HR), the 5th pick in the ABC’s first amateur draft. Kolet, drafted by Canberra, had jumped straight into the ABC top flight in 2058, where he’d been ensconced ever since. He was signed through the 2065 season, with most of the opinion that he’d push for an AUNZBL contract once a free agent.

AUNZBL Standings, Jan 1
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2063/2064 Season - January

2063/2064 Season - January

Hall of Fame

3 players were on the ballot for the first time, while 3 players returned for another crack.

Typically, inductions took place on the first Tuesday of January, which in 2064 happened to fall on the 1st of January, the same day as the All Star Game. The AUNZBL decided, if any new players were to be inducted, to combine the 2 events, with the induction ceremony to be held in the afternoon at the venue of the All Star Game, with the game itself to be held in the evening. This decision was reached some time before the current controversy surrounding the All Star Game began.


For the second year in a row the Hall had a first-ballot entry. Young-tae Lee was elected with 83.6% of the vote. There had been some conjecture as to whether Lee (.281/.392/.437, 330HR) would get into the Hall at all but the voters had spoken in overwhelming fashion and the 10-time Championship winner was in. 47 y/o Lee had only retired from pro-ball after the 2060 season, having finished his career in AAA at 44 years of age. However, he’d last played in the majors in 2057, hitting .257/.405/.322 in 385PA for Auckland. Lee was inducted in a Newcastle uniform.

Of course, Lee is very well known today, 55+ years later, but not primarily because of his tremendous career. Instead, he is known as the ‘first non-Australasian elected to the Hall.’ That, of course, isn’t a bad thing. However, it became a sticking point at the time because instead of focusing on his achievements, the Commissioner’s Office decided to make a big deal of his race in a bid to try to prove that there was no bias or discrimination in their systems. In fact, the Commissioner laboured the point so much in his speech prior to inviting Lee to the stage that the typically unflappable 10-time All Star felt compelled to say in response, “I’d like to think I got here solely because of what I achieved as a player, not just because I had a twenty-year career in the bigs but was born in another land.”

Sadly, the debate as to whether Lee belongs in the Hall on his own merits still rages today among some fans when it should never have been an issue in the first place.

Almost lost among the uproar was the fact that Mike Wurfel dropped from 77.8% on last year’s ballot all the way to 33.9% this year.

These were the full voting results:

[b]3B Young-tae Lee - 83.6

2B Mike Wurfel - 33.9
2B Bill Bransington - 18.9
LF Lindsay Colson - 10.7

RF Keiran Pickford - 1.4
SP Adrian Duggan - 1.4

Notable Performances

1 Jan: In front of a crowd of less than 35000 the NZ & Overseas All Stars thumped the Australian All Stars 11-4. Australian All Star Axel Nankervis said after the game, “Look, the concept needs to change, for sure. And that’s without even considering any race-based aspect - and I hope the fans remember that this wasn’t anything to do with the players; it was solely an administration issue.”

It was reported after the match that several players from both teams had considered a boycott but after a joint consideration decided to ‘play on for the love of the game and for the fans who’d travelled to watch.’

3 Jan: Cairns went berserker on Wellington, bashing the Fury senseless 20-3. The Crocs smashed 9 homeruns, including 4 in a 10-run 7th. 4 players - Jarod Boxsell, Mario Correa, Ronald Aitken, Javier Rodriguez - had 2-homer games. Wellington were scoreless through 8 before finally getting on the board in the 9th via a 3-run Temaki Hokualohi four-bagger. The 26 y/o rookie said after the game, “Look, I hope I hit plenty more homers across a long major-league career, and I know I’ve only hit 5 so far but I’m pretty sure that’ll be one of the sadder ones I’ll ever hit.”

4 Jan: Gu Luo had mostly flown under the radar this season playing for the Diggers. His name was back on everybody’s lips today though, after he homered in his 5th straight game, cracking a solo shot in the 6th inning of Darwin’s 7-1 win over Hobart.

5 Jan: Darwin overcame Hobart 7-4 but Luo wasn’t able to extend his HR streak, his solitary hit from 5 at-bats a single.

5 Jan: Barry Dean was perfect through 7 and headed into the top of the 9th having conceded just 1 single. He got the first out of the inning on 2 pitches. Danny Caporn then doubled into space in CF. Jorge Perez struck out swinging, Dean’s 8th victim of the night. Jai Rowe singled into shallow left and Caporn didn’t slow rounding 3B. He dived home unopposed and the shutout was broken up. The final score was 8-1 Perth, Dean getting the final out of the game on the next pitch. “One of those things,” he said with a shrug in the locker rooms later, his upbeat smile betrayed by his eyes. “Just one of those things.”

5 Jan: Lance Fookes stroked a 3-run dinger in the bottom of the 10th to see Christchurch walk off 6-3 winners over division rivals Auckland. The Cowboys scored 2 in the 8th to tie the game up before their extra-innings heroics.

6 Jan: Rich Steedman racked up an easy save in Brisbane’s 4-1 defeat of Kununurra. 58 in a row, putting him equal with Backhouse. He needed another 13 saves to reach the top rung on that ladder. Terence Tunnicliffe started the best all-time streak in 2024 and carried it into 2026, saving 71 games without blowing one.

7 Jan: Ronald Aitken snared his first-ever PotW award. The mild-mannered 1B hit .533/.652/1.267 in 5 games, his 8-15 including 2 doubles and 3HR.

8 Jan: 27 y/o 1B Todd Fisher went undrafted in 2057 before signing a deal with Newcastle’s rookie league affiliate. By 2061 he’d made his big-league debut and was now their everyday 1B. He led from the front in today’s 10-7 victory over Central Coast, going 5-5 with a double, HR and 3RBI.

8 Jan: Pedro Montanez went 9 innings, allowing only 3 hits and no earned runs, while striking out 6. The thing that stopped him notching up a third big-league shutout came in the bottom of the 7th. Angel Rivera hit a regulation fly out to right but Rowan Reardon took his eyes off the ball for a fraction of a second and it bounced off the heel of his glove. 2 outs later Rivera stole 2B and charged home 2 pitches after that off William Fenton’s single. Still, the blooper didn’t derail Christchurch’s victory. They won 6-1. Reardon didn’t have a game to remember in the field or at the plate, going 0-4 while collecting a trifecta of strikeouts.

10 Jan: Steedman made things difficult for himself in Brisbane’s 3-2 victory over Newcastle. He struggled to locate his pitches against the first 2 batters, hitting both of them. A sacrifice bunt then moved the runners forward a base. Steedman upped the volume to fan the next hitter but Guillermo Julio patiently drew a walk to load the bases with 2 out. Nathan Kapuna made good contact on a 2-2 fastball but his linedrive was plucked out of the air by a quick-reacting Rod Pugsley at short. Consecutive save #59 for Steedman, who’d thrown 4 of the last 5 days, picking up a win and 2 saves in the process. He now stood alone with the second-longest save streak in AUNZBL history.

11 Jan: Beau Snell had a bonza day at #2 in the lineup in a Cairns’ 12-7 thrashing of Hobart. He went 5-5 with a walk, bashing two 3-run homeruns. He also scored 5 runs, tying the Cairns game record. This was the 5th time Snell had collected 5 hits in a game.

11 Jan: It’s not often a team scores 12 runs in a single frame, and even rarer for them to do so without clearing the fences. That’s what Brisbane did today against Newcastle in the top of the 3rd on the way to a 15-4 demolition. They batted around twice, sending 18 hitters to the plate, and scored the runs off the back of 6 singles, 3 doubles, 1 triple and 5 walks. Newcastle used 3 pitchers in the inning, and skipper Andre Allan, in his debut season at the helm, said afterwards, “Yeah, that pretty much broke us. Yeah, we got 3 back in the bottom of the inning but it was plain to see we didn’t put up much of a fight offensively for the rest of the game.”

12 Jan: Steedman once again made things difficult for himself, allowing 2 runners aboard in the bottom of the 9th against Newcastle. He got out of the jam, though, seeing Brisbane to a 6-4 victory. His save streak had now reached 60!

14 Jan: Norm Blume hit .560/.667/.960 over the last 7 games on his way to PotW.

15 Jan: Gary Young took centre-stage in Adelaide’s 9-2 defeat of Central Coast. In the 6th inning he hit a solo HR. In the 8th he struck another, this one a 3-run effort. The second was especially noteworthy because it was the 400th of his career. 36 y/o Young became the 18th AUNZBL player to reach that mark.

16 Jan: Central Coast toppled Adelaide 17-4. Yoshihito Morimoto went 4-7 at leadoff, driving in 5 runs, while Alan Sneddon was 2-3 with 3 walks, legging out a triple in the process. It was his second triple of the season. When asked how it felt, he replied, “Like running on soft sand. Third base seemed like it was getting further and further away with every stride instead of closer.”

[b]17 Jan:[b/] Christchurch had Beau Hauer to thank for their 6-3 win over Cairns. The talented 2B got scoring underway in the top of the 1st with a solo HR. He teed off again in the 5th with a 2-run shot, part of a 3-run inning that gave the Cowboys the lead. And he went deep again in the 7th with another solo shot to give him 3 dingers for the game.

17 Jan: The Venom were determined not to let yesterday’s 17-4, 20 base-hit thumping happen again today. They started off with 6 runs in the bottom of the 1st and didn’t let up despite a spirited effort by the Thunder, eventually winning 12-9. Moore homered twice in the game, in the 1st and the 2nd. That latter shot was his 40th homerun of the season, leaving him well on track to smash the existing HR record.

17 Jan: After 9 innings Newcastle and Wellington couldn’t be separated, the scores knotted at 4, the Fury the last to get across home-plate safely, putting 3 on the board in the 7th to tie the game up. Both sides had opportunities in the 10th to 14th but it wasn’t until the bottom of the 15th that the tie was broken. 26 y/o Gary Woods was once again the man for the Fury, slugging a 2-out walk-off HR. He’d subbed into the game in the 9th and finished up 2-3 on the night.

21 Jan: 26 y/o Kununurra RF Philip Akhurst played 2 big-league games in October but had spent the rest of the season before January 4th in AAA. Called back up again then after the Pioneers traded away Lindner and Young, Akhurst had started 14 games and was hitting .475/.522/1.342 for the year, with 5HR. Such were his efforts over the last week that he took out the weekly award, his stat-line .565/.615/1.000. Of his 13-23, he hit 4 doubles and 2HR.

21 Jan: Zachariah Pond shut down Adelaide to get his Diggers back on level pegging with them at the top of the Coastal. He allowed 7 hits, walked none and struck out 4. Pond was having a turbulent season, his ERA 5.08 and FIP 4.22, but this was his second shutout of the season so far.

21 Jan: 25 y/o Reginald Puckeridge was Auckland’s backup catcher. He started today’s game, going 1-2 with a HR, 2 runs, 2RBI and a BB in a 6-4 victory over Canberra to win PotG.

What many didn’t know about Puckeridge was that he was the son of Russell Puckeridge, who’d famously made the switch from big-league pitcher to hitter in 2036, winning the HR crown in that very first year. Reginald was born in 2038 in Gisborne, while Russell was playing for Wellington and by all accounts not enjoying his baseball very much. While Reginald admitted he never really knew his dad growing up (“It wasn’t, y’know, a proper, uh, relationship with my mum, and then the next year he went off to Melbourne and then, uh, all I saw of him while I was a young fellah were the child support payments”) he did take on his last name and wanted to emulate his baseball accomplishments, even learning the same position his father had played.

Reginald was drafted out of high school by Kununurra in 2057 and got his first taste of the big leagues that same year, starting 1 game for the Pioneers where he went 2-4 with a double and RBI. He surprisingly didn’t play any minor league ball that season but did spend all of 2058 at rookie league level. In 2059 he was traded to Auckland and languished on their rookie league team, only playing 3 games (“I might’ve, uh, got a bit lippy to my skipper a couple times”). 2060 was a whole different story. He won the major-league backup catching role after spring training and that was where he’d stayed. Much like his father, Reginald was a slugger, though he still had some ways to go to get to his father’s level of power.

22 Jan: Cairns put Melbourne to the sword, routing them 17-5. Michael Baker and Claudio Lara both collected 4 hits, Baker’s including 2 doubles and a HR for 5RBI. Mario Correa went 3-5 with 2HR for 4 runs and 5 ribbies.

25 Jan: Jason Brewster and the Hobart Prospects came out on top in a pitchers’ duel against Newcastle. Dean Ambrose slumped to his 13th loss of the season despite going 8 innings for just 5 hits, 2 walks and 1 earned run. Brewster didn’t start the game off so well, plunking the first batter he faced, but he quickly settled into a rhythm, retiring the next 14 hitters in order. He gave up 2 singles to begin the 6th before getting the next 3 outs on 3 pitches. In the 8th he surrendered a 1-out walk but no damage came of it. He did the same thing in the 9th but gallantly fought his way to the last 2 outs of the game. 2-hit, 2-walk shutout! He fanned 8 and threw just 103 pitches.

25 Jan: It was a day for pitching duels. Adelaide and Brisbane duked it out for 13 innings before Adelaide manufactured a 2-1 walk-off win. Greg Ahern threw 8 innings for the victors, conceding 1 run off 4 hits and 2 walks while fanning 9. For the Bandits, Roy Blake went 9 innings, allowing 8 hits and 2 walks for 1 run, punching out 7.

26 Jan: Moore went 2-3 with a homer and 4RBI in Adelaide’s 5-3 win over Brisbane. The 4 ribbies pushed him to 101 for the season, making him the first hitter past 100 in 2063. Mario Correa was hot on his heels, with 98.

28 Jan: Ronald Aitken took home his second PotW of the month, hitting .480/.563/.960, with 3 doubles and 3HR.

28 Jan: Brisbane scored 2 insurance runs in the 8th to set up a comfortable 5-2 win over Wellington. Steedman got the easy save, though he did manage to load the bases with 2 outs. His streak had now hit 65!

29 Jan: Cody Watts wasn’t having a great season, 4-11 before this game against Auckland. The Sydney ace improved that to 5-11 today thanks to a 5-hit, 0-walk shutout. He only fanned 2 but 79 of his 92 pitches were in and around the zone, forcing hitters to play him aggressively. Sydney won 3-0.

29 Jan: Perth and Central Coast fought it out in a dour extra-innings contest. Perth scored first, in the 5th via a solo Glen Blake homer. Alan Sneddon’s RBI double in the 6th equalized things and that was all the scoring until the top of the 12th when Perth got a rally on and scored 4 thanks to a pair of 2-run dingers from Hal Boxsell and Sterling O’Connell. Final score: 5-1 Heat, who’d pulled themselves to within 2 games of .500.

29 Jan: Hobart closer Isaac Graham held Whangarei off to see his side to a 7-5 win. That was Graham’s 27th save of the season and his 35th without blowing one.

31 Jan: Wellington and Brisbane marked the last day of January with a helter-skelter slug-fest. With the scores tied at 12 in the bottom of the 9th, Brisbane’s Sam Richards, who’d already homered in the 1st, came up with 2 men aboard. He pulled the first pitch he saw into the RF bleachers. Walk-off 3-run HR for Richards, who was 3-5 in the game with 2 runs and 4RBI. The next morning, in a twist, the 24 y/o found himself cruising back to AAA. John Foreman hit his 32nd homer of the season in the 7th, and Norm Blume his 27th. Both players would enter February on 4-game HR streaks. Also notable was Armando ‘Get The Tape’ Santos, who’d been up and down between AAA and the bigs a few times in March, who hit his first major-league homer of the season. Santos had played 6 first-grade games, starting 4 of them at SS, where he’d already managed to put up a -2.2 ZR. Steedman picked up his 6th win of the season.

31 Jan: Adelaide gave Canberra a 15-6 hiding. They only hit safely 15 times but also drew 8 walks. Not that the Venom pitchers did that much better finding the plate, giving up 9 free passes but only 8 hits. Moore hit HR #42 for the season in the 2nd, while Canberra’s best performer was 9-holer Danny Caporn, who was 2-3 with a walk, both his hits homeruns. He scored 2 and drove in 4. Adelaide's Tomas Zartuch equaled the AUNZBL game record for steals, with 4. He was also the last player to achieve this feat, doing so in the 2060 season.

31 Jan: Cairns and Darwin were at each other’s throats for exactly 5 hours. Cairns had a 3-0 lead after 5 but Darwin ate away at it, tying the game in the bottom of the 9th. Both teams had regular baserunners from the 10th-15th but couldn’t do anything with them, Cairns’ Jarod Boxsell left stranded at 3B in the 15th after a 1-out triple. Claudio Lara led off the top of the 16th with a single and an out later took on the RF after a deep fly-out, diving in safely at 2B. Chi-seong Lee then singled and Lara scampered home to put Cairns ahead 4-3. William Fenton drew a 2-out walk in the bottom of the inning but that was all she wrote, Cairns grinding their way to an important victory to pull level second with their division rivals.

Notable Injuries

7 Jan: Melbourne’s Rory Delaney (.320/.348/.423, 6HR) got jammed up and couldn’t drop his hands fast enough in today’s 11-8 loss versus Auckland. The result was a fractured thumb and at least 5 weeks on the DL.

8 Jan: Russell Smith (.287/.345/.491, 14HR) tore the meniscus in his knee and would be out of Brisbane’s lineup for a month.

11 Jan: Central Coast’s biggest offseason acquisition, and a rumoured source of tension in the clubhouse, Marty Okolita (7-7, 4.66 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 1.23 WHIP) was done for the season. He’d torn his labrum and was likely to be on the DL until sometime in October. Okolita had been fanning hitters at a 9.78 rate per 9 innings in 2063, 1.4 better than next-best Greg Ahern.

16 Jan: All Star Jacob Sheppard (.285/.361/.482, 11HR) sprained an elbow and would be out of Whangarei’s lineup for around a month.

17 Jan: Brisbane, 6 games back in the East-West and 3 games out of a wildcard, would be missing Domenic Cook (.298/.359/.601, 32HR) for about 4 weeks after he fractured his thumb. A cruel blow for a young team punching above their weight.

21 Jan: Brisbane lost another to injury. This time it was SP Sebastian Woodger (8-5, 4.78 ERA, 4.28 FIP, 1.46 WHIP). His injury, a strained forearm, was most likely season-ending.

27 Jan: Fei-hsien Chang’s (.200/.273/.404, 11HR from 253PA) season was struck another blow, this time a season-ending one. He had torn a muscle in his back while diving in the outfield. He wouldn’t be back taking batting practice for at least 4 months. In a 10+ year major-league career Chang had only reached the 502PA threshold 5 times.

Notable Trades/Signings

4 Jan: Hobart acquired 25 y/o 1B Bob Lindner (.243/.360/.414, 14HR) from Kununurra in exchange for 26 y/o fringe big-leaguer Bagaskoro Maryadi (.303/.342/.450, 3HR from 118PA) and a decent 19 y/o infield prospect.

4 Jan: The Pioneers engaged in another deal, this time with Auckland. The Pioneers wrangled 25 y/o All Star Tim Waymouth (4-6, 4.14 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 1.33 WHIP), who was under club control for another 4 seasons, in return for 27 y/o Chuk-yan Lung (.309/.358/.495, 7HR from 204PA). Lung was also under club control for another 4+ seasons.

4 Jan: The Metros announced their second deal of the day, having offloaded another starting pitcher, 32 y/o Nick Aston (6-8, 5.40 ERA, 4.86 FIP, 1.61 WHIP), plus cash to Adelaide. The Venom sent 27 y/o Cong Pi (.239/.320/.363, 5HR) and a 24 y/o SS who didn’t look like he’d ever play higher than A-ball across to the Metros. Why were Auckland shedding starting pitchers? To make way for some prospects who they felt were ready for action out of a major-league bullpen.

11 Jan: Apparently this was a trade a long time in the making but was still one that nobody saw coming. 29 y/o Brent Dwyer (.306/.363/.513, 15HR) was thought of as an integral part of the Crocs’ lineup and a capable outfielder (even if some coaches privately spoke of his less than stellar attitude to training). He’d been drafted by the Crocs in 2055 and been a big-league regular since 2056. Now he was headed to the team making the most moves at the trade table this season, Auckland. In return, Cairns would get 32 y/o RF Alan Willey (.263/.318/.363, 5HR), who was headed for free agency at season’s end, and an excellent 21 y/o pitching prospect.

Dwyer could not be reached for comment but Willey, who’d started his career with Cairns in 2054, said, “Yep, stoked actually. Especially as I’d been playing reserve grade the last week as well. I’ve already spoken to management here in Cairns and they say I’ll fit straight into their starting lineup, for the time being at least.”

The Crocs were 1 game back in the Coastal, behind both Adelaide and Darwin, while Auckland had fallen to 8 games behind in the NZ, as well as 3 games below .500, with many fans of the opinion that skipper Antonio Altagracia was to blame for their slump.

14 Jan: Cairns engaged in another deal, acquiring 30 y/o pitcher Claudio Banda (1-4, 1 sv, 4.11 ERA from 34 games) from Hobart in exchange for 2 prospects. ‘Band-Aid’ would move into the bottom of the Crocs’ rotation.

17 Jan: Newcastle sent 28 y/o CF Mitchell Cox (.291/.340/.398, 6HR) to Canberra in return for a solitary prospect.

23 Jan: 25 y/o Jayden Roneberg (.260/.308/.384, 2HR from 79PA) fractured his finger in October and was 1 game back into a rehab assignment. With the moves Auckland had made in his absence he was now surplus to requirements so they traded him to division rivals, and division leaders, Christchurch, getting a sweet 19 y/o pitching prospect in return. Takanori Komatsu was signed by the Cowboys as an international amateur free agent at the beginning of 2062, and was promoted straight out of their international complex to A-ball this season. He projected to be a solid upper-middle rotation guy and Auckland were excited to get him. The Cowboys were just as happy to have Gold Glove-calibre Roneberg on their team and immediately made him their starting CF, sending 38 y/o veteran RF Rowan Reardon (.234/.306/.395, 10HR) and 30 y/o OF Bryan McMullen (.298/.352/.404, 2HR) to AAA.

29 Jan: His excellent 2-hit shutout last month notwithstanding, 29 y/o Dylan Durrington (5-9, 4.77 ERA, 4.46 FIP, 1.42 WHIP) had been down in the dumps most of the season. Still, the Diggers liked what he had and today signed him to a 3-year extension.

29 Jan: Whangarei had slipped well off the pace in the NZ, 12 games behind the Cowboys and with Auckland also in front of them. They were also 7 games below .500 and had apparently called time on their season, today trading away 2 of their better players. First, they sent 26 y/o 1B David Anderton (.263/.371/.528, 26HR) to Darwin in exchange for 24 y/o 1B Marco Auty, who’d hit .199 in AAA this season, plus 25 y/o pitcher Orlando Martinez, who’d also toiled away at AAA for a 7-8, 4.86 ERA record. Both players would feature in Whangarei’s big-league squad, Auty at DH and Martinez out of the pen. Auty had a great eye and was showing glimpses of impressive power but wasn’t, in the eyes of most analysts, ready for the bigs yet.

29 Jan: The second trade involved 6’11” Matt Mulholland (6-7, 3.42 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 1.23 WHIP), the 26 y/o discovered by Whangarei scouts during the 2062 season while playing in a NSW bush league. Mulholland was off to Brisbane who, just 3 games back in the East-West, were prepared to fight all the way home. Mulholland would strengthen a weak rotation. In return Whangarei got 34 y/o soon-to-be free agent John Roberts (.220/.317/.383, 13HR) and a good-looking 23 y/o pitching prospect.

Month Awards

Rookie of the Month: Jay Watts grabbed his third RotM award and fully deserved to do so. He hit .337/.408/.620, 31-92, scoring 15 runs, hitting 8 doubles and 6HR, driving in 11 runners, and earning 9 free passes. For the season he was hitting .339, third-best in the league.

Hurler of the Month: 28 y/o Karl Blackwell was having the season Melbourne fans and management had been hoping for since he arrived on the scene as a 21 y/o. The southpaw won all 6 of his starts during the month, posting a 1.37 ERA, 4.06 FIP, and 1.22 WHIP. He sent down 46.0 innings, striking out 31. For the season he had an ERA of 2.66, currently best among qualified AUNZBL pitchers. This was his first HotM.

Slugger of the Month: Norm Blume had burst onto the scene in 2061 when, in his first year as an everyday player, he hit 40 doubles and 30HR, driving in a league-leading 135 runners. He’d impressed last season also, again leading the league in RBI with 149, as well as sharing the HR crown with a bunch of other players, hitting 42. This year the 26 y/o had already put up a higher WAR (4.9) than last season and had 34 doubles and 27HR to his name with 2 months to play. He won SotM, hitting .423/.500/.802 across January, his 47-111 including 9 doubles and 11 jacks. He also scored 25 runs, plated 35 runners and walked 15 times. Blume had 61XBH for the season to lead the league.

Media Watch

Ismael Aguirre: Aguirre found himself back down in AAA on February 1st but that was his first trip there since November. He played in 14 games in January, hitting .235/.304/.294 and scoring 6 runs. He needed 4 more runs to reach 2000.

Marcos Lopez: Hitting .268/.320/.418, with 11HR for the season. He finished the month with 106 hits for the season and 3044 for his career. 36 more and he’d pass Brock Wakely (3079) for 4th-best all-time.

Last Year’s Top Players Watch

2062’s Top Rookies

2062 Rookie of the Year, Sebastian Horton: The 31 y/o was hitting .264/.317/.428, 111-421, 457PA, with 88 runs, 17 doubles, 2 triples, 16HR, 55RBI, 25 walks, and 2SB. His OPS+ of 95 gave further proof that he was having an AUNZBL sophomore slump. Still, on the defensive end the 3B was sharp, with a ZR of +6.7. He had a WAR of 2.1.

Cain Whalley: A sprained knee suffered early in ST kept Whalley out of the big league lineup until the latter half of October. Struggling in his second full season. .248/.284/.336, 79-318, 38 runs, 7 doubles, 3 triples, 5HR, 34RBI, 14BB, 13SB, 338PA. OPS+ of 64, WAR of -0.2.

Li Hayes: No sophomore slump for Hayes. .305/.363/.545, 98-321, 49 runs, 21 doubles, 1 triple, 18HR, 71RBI, 28BB, 355PA. Apart from starting 63 games at catcher, Hayes had also played 93.0 innings at 3B without committing a single error as well as putting up a 1.1ZR. OPS+ 136, WAR 3.8.

2062’s Top Pitchers

2062 Brodie Backhouse Award winner, Rod Bacon: Giving a pretty good account of himself. 5-2, 24 sv from 40 games, 1.48 ERA, 2.60 FIP, 0.84 WHIP, 48 strikeouts in 42.2 innings pitched. 308 ERA+, 1.1 WAR, 57 FIP-.

2062 Hurler of the Year, Clint Kline: As well as really only throwing 2 types of fastball, Kline’s velocity had dropped sharply this season. Still, his control was as good as ever, his 1.20 BB/9 second-best among starting pitchers. 11-7 from 23 starts, 4.37 ERA, 4.21 FIP, 1.25 WHIP, 83 strikeouts from 142.0 innings. 104 ERA+, 2.5 WAR, 92 FIP-.

Barry Dean: Had looked somewhat tired his last few starts, perhaps a result of carrying the entire Heat organization on his back. 11-7 from 24 starts, 2.78 ERA, 2.45 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, 167 Ks from 181.1 IP. 164 ERA+, 7.4 WAR, 54 FIP-. Led the league in FIP, WHIP, Ks, IP, HR/9 (0.45), K/BB (5.39), and WAR. Was on track to break his own WAR record of 9.11, set in 2061. If so, he would remain the only pitcher to record a 9+ WAR season, and would have done so 3 times. He was currently projecting to put up a WAR of 10.4. He was also the only qualified starter with an FIP under 3.00.

Greg Ahern: One of only 2 Adelaide players to make the 2063 All Stars. 12-7 from 24 starts, 4.02 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 1.14 WHIP, 155 Ks from 163.1 IP. 113 ERA+, 4.4 WAR, 75 FIP-.

2062’s Top Hitters

2062, Jorge Diaz Award Winner, Richard Moore: The other Adelaide All Star representative, Moore was tearing it up in 2063. .341/.452/.671, 144-422, 93 runs, 11 doubles, 1 triple, 42HR, 105RBI, 85BB, 513PA. 192 OPS+, 6.7 WAR. Topped the charts in OBP, SLG, OPS, HR, RBI, wOBA (.460), ISO (.329), total bases (283), and WAR. His BA was second-best, meaning he had a real chance at recording only the 2nd hitting Triple Crown in the league’s history. He was also on track to hit 60 homeruns but wasn’t even thinking about those achievements, if his comments after hitting homer #42 were to be believed: “Nah mate, not even a blip on my thought radar, and certainly not when I’m at the plate. My process is the same every at-bat, whether we’re up by 10 or down by 3 with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th. Focus on my breathing, on the pitcher, on the ball in the pitcher’s hand, and let all the stuff I’ve trained to be instinctual kick in when the ball starts its journey to the plate. I do anything more complicated than that and I’m just going to screw things up.”

Mario Correa: Still liable to swing at stuff nowhere near the plate and just as liable to send that stuff somewhere back in the stands. Missed 3 weeks in October-November with a sore shoulder. .326/.362/.558, 124-380, 60 runs, 15 doubles, 2 triples, 23HR, 100RBI, 24BB, 2SB, 412PA. 139 OPS+, 3.8 WAR.

Neil Bellett: Missed the end of November and most of December with a separated shoulder. Had recently grown sideburns which might or might not be affecting his power output. .277/.425/.513, 86-310, 64 runs, 13 doubles, 20HR, 56RBI, 73BB, 393PA. 147 OPS+, 2.6 WAR.

Other Notes

Coastal Division: Adelaide (18-10) pushed ahead, their lead over Cairns (16-12) and Darwin (15-13) 3 games heading into Killer Feb.

East-West Division: Kununurra (14-14) were only par in January, and spent the 22nd-28th on a 6-game skid. Central Coast (17-11) had pulled to within 2 games while Brisbane (17-11) lurked just 3 back.

NZ Division: Christchurch (19-9) all the way, with both Auckland (10-18) and Whangarei (7-21) having awful months to plummet below .500.

Southern Division: Melbourne (16-12) poked their noses above .500, the Prospects (16-12) 2 games back. Sydney (12-16) followed on from their poor December to finish the month 4 games in arrears.

Wildcard: Cairns and Darwin held both slots currently, with Central Coast 2 games back and Brisbane 3.


Callum McCabe (.351/.429/.519, 7HR) held the BA lead but only barely thanks to hitting just .259 in the month.

Yoshihito Morimoto (.325/.354/.355, 0HR) continued to lead the league in hits, with 162. He also had the most steals (34). Last year’s steal king (51) and season record-holder (74 in 2060), Stephane Lecomte (.295/.358/.399, 1HR) seemed to have been put off after his fractured rib, having only swiped 14 bags from 17 attempts so far.

Ronald Aitken (.318/.433/.543, 22HR) had scored more runs than anybody, touching home-plate safely 94 times.

Retiring superstar Alan Sneddon (.242/.391/.304, 1HR) had 92 walks, best in the AUNZBL by 3. His swing might be diminishing but his plate eye certainly wasn’t. If he reached 100 walks in 2063 it would be the 13th time he’d done so in his major-league career. Since 2046, his first full season in the majors, he’d never walked less than 93 times.

Edward Vance (16-3, 3.19 ERA, 4.05 FIP, 1.21 WHIP) was on track to easily better his 18-5 record from last season. He had 3 more wins than any other pitcher, and finished February with a 12-game undefeated and 10-game win streak.

Jason Brewster (12-8, 3.24 ERA, 4.63 FIP, 1.08 WHIP) was making the most of Hobart’s league-topping defensive efficiency (.701). He had the best H/9 (7.32) and OAVG (.221) amongst qualified pitchers.

Ted Heathcote (11-7, 3.48 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 1.11 WHIP) was only walking 1 batter every 9 innings, a league-best.

Isaac Canavan (Central Coast) had a slender lead on the saves board. His 31 efforts were 1 better than Rich Hodgson (Kununurra), who was somehow getting away with a 1.60 WHIP.

ABC Wrap-up

Brisbane (72-38) had a down month but were still acres in front of next-best Alice Springs (59-52) in the Northern.

Canberra (73-37) smashed it in January, jumping out to a 5 1/2 game lead over Melbourne (68-43) in the Southern, with Sydney (64-47) dropping to 9 1/2 back.

In the Western, Perth (58-53) continued to idle, with Kalgoorlie (57-54) pulling to within 1 game.

Dunedin (64-47) were cruising in the Overseas.

35 y/o Will Glasson (.299/.385/.484, 18HR) won both the Golden Rookie and Golden Bat monthly awards.

Satya Susanti (13-5, 2.82 ERA, 2.37 FIP, 1.03 WHIP) was rattling up strikeouts at a 10.38 rate per 9 innings. His 173 Ks was 32 better than next best. He also led the league in K/BB (5.77), FIP, and WAR (5.7).

AUNZBL Standings, Feb 1
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Old 10-28-2017, 11:01 PM   #730
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Originally Posted by Izz View Post
In fact, the Commissioner laboured the point so much in his speech prior to inviting Lee to the stage that the typically unflappable 10-time All Star felt compelled to say in response, “I’d like to think I got here solely because of what I achieved as a player, not just because I had a twenty-year career in the bigs but was born in another land.”

Sadly, the debate as to whether Lee belongs in the Hall on his own merits still rages today among some fans when it should never have been an issue in the first place.

1 Jan: In front of a crowd of less than 35000 the NZ & Overseas All Stars thumped the Australian All Stars 11-4. Australian All Star Axel Nankervis said after the game, “Look, the concept needs to change, for sure. And that’s without even considering any race-based aspect - and I hope the fans remember that this wasn’t anything to do with the players; it was solely an administration issue.”

It was reported after the match that several players from both teams had considered a boycott but after a joint consideration decided to ‘play on for the love of the game and for the fans who’d travelled to watch.’
Intrigue in the AUNZBL!
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Old 10-29-2017, 12:12 AM   #731
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Originally Posted by reds1 View Post
Intrigue in the AUNZBL!
The debate as to whether the current All Star concept was, if not racist then tone-deaf, had been quietly simmering since its inception but before now had mostly been confined to the small corners of the nets that the political activists occupied.

However, other recent events (mostly surrounding the rights of Moon- and Mars-born citizens plus a documentary series investigating institutional racism within the military - both land and space) had thrust political activism back into the mainstream - something that hadn't been seen since Pre-War times. That, combined with growing fan dissatisfaction at the overall weakness of the AUNZBL All Star format in comparison to the ABC model, made the annual January 1st All Star fixture an easy target. In turn, the responses of the Commissioner's Office made the AUNZBL an easy target. Whether that was right or wrong is, in my opinion, a matter of opinion.

Now, of course, the AUNZBL has blotted that 'embarrassing episode' (their words, not mine, from an interview with the Commissioner in 2072 - yes, I deviated from my usual pattern and looked forward through the archives on this issue) from baseball consciousness. Any baseball history compiled from the 2070s onwards goes to pains not to mention the All Star Games played between 2036-2063, and the AUNZBL doesn't recognize them as official fixtures. The Hall of Fame, supposedly independent from 2085, does the same, with the plaques and histories of players inducted from that time accompanied by an asterisked note which says: *Played during the non-unified era. No official All Star Games were played during this period, though unofficial exhibition events were held periodically.

How the players felt is not easy to gauge. Certainly, the opinions of many in 2063 are well known and easily found but of the generations of All Stars and their counterparts from before that year? The archives hold very little, either for or against.

In 2084 Ismael Aguirre had this to say in an interview: "It was a game to me, just like any other game, but of course a bit more special because selection meant that people thought you were one of the best players in the league. Despite it being crammed in on one day we all got together and enjoyed ourselves and put on a show for the fans. I'm no politician, so I'm not going to weigh in on whether erasing those games from memory is right or wrong but I will say this: is it right to deny the players involved over those years the legacy of being All Stars? After all, they weren't responsible for the format, were they?"

It’s important to note that the All Star selectors were never accused of racism. The problem was that the format of the game lent itself to ‘white versus the rest’ scenarios.

The issue as to why the majority of Australian-born major-league baseball players were white was a whole other subject which had its roots in the high school and college systems. This had, however, begun to be addressed over the last decade.

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Old 10-31-2017, 04:04 AM   #732
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2063/2064 Season - February

2063/2064 Season - February

Notable Performances

3 Feb: Crocs' SP Clint Kline and Canberra’s Danny Caporn got to brawling in Cairns’ 3-2 victory. The melee occurred in the top of the 8th. Kline had cruised through 7, allowing just 5 hits for 1 earned run while fanning 6. Bradley Mant led off the 8th with a solo HR over right, bringing Caporn to the plate. He fouled the first pitch off, then danced away from an inside pitch for ball 1. Caporn waggled a finger in Kline’s direction, saying something none of the camera mics picked up. Kline smiled and said, according to best lip-reading attempts, “Giddy up!” Both players got back into their respective stances but Kline and his catcher didn’t even bother running through their pitch signs. Kline went inside, way inside, and all Caporn could do was turn towards the umpire and take the pitch on his back. He then turned just as quickly back to Kline, threw his bat and helmet down and took off a-charging, Crocs’ catcher Michael Baker unable to get in his way in time. After the dust settled both players were given their marching orders. After the game the Commissioner’s Office suspended Caporn for 4 games and Kline for 6.

3 Feb: Perth led 7-5 heading into the top of 9th against Brisbane. Edward Kearney came to the mound, having not blown a save all season and looking for number 23. Things did not go so well. Kearney struck out first man up, Robin Seyler, then gave up a first-pitch single to Andrew Mangan. Pete Mulholland ripped a triple to right and it was a 1-run game. Armando Santos struck out swinging but Larry Booth kept the inning alive with a walk. Arturo Medina cracked a double into the centre-right alley, scoring both runners. Blown save, the Bandits up by 1. Kearney came from the mound but the hurt wasn’t done yet. Norm Blume hit the first pitch he saw, a waist-high sinker, down the LF line and into the bleachers for his second homer of the night. 10-7 Brisbane, Steedman up and throwing in the bullpen. He gave up a run off a sac-fly after allowing 2 singles but that was it. 10-8 Brisbane victory and Steedman had notched up consecutive save number 66.

3 Feb: Central Coast busted out against Hobart, trouncing them 11-0. Matt Juhl was the anchor in the Thunder’s performance, throwing a 7-hit, 1-walk, 6-strikeout shutout. This was the 4th shutout of 37 y/o Juhl’s 14-year major league career.

4 Feb: Blume took out PotW. The 6’5” 1B hit .433/.452/1.233, 7 of his 13 hits homeruns. He also scored 10 runs and drove in 18 runners.

4 Feb: Steedman was much more assured in holding off the Heat today. With the Bandits up 5-3 he needed just 8 pitches to retire Perth in order, striking out the final hitter in 3. 67 saves and counting. Santos was the hero with the bat for the Bandits, going 4-4 with 2 characteristically booming homeruns.

4 Feb: Adelaide prevailed over Wellington 6-2, the game even until the 7th when the Venom pulled away with a 4-run inning. Moore hit a solo 2-out homer in the 1st, his 43rd of the season. Greg Ahern had a big night too, doing the Buzzard 14 times in an 8.1 inning performance. In his previous start, on the 30th of January, he’d fanned 12.

7 Feb: A high-scoring contest between Perth and Wellington ended with a 15-8 Fury victory. For the losers, Calvin Hodnett went 4-4 with a double, HR, and 3 runs, while John Foreman hit his 35th HR of the year for the Fury. All 3 of Wellington’s longballs came in the bottom of the 1st. They scored 7 and never relinquished their lead.

10 Feb: Auckland outslugged Whangarei, winning 17-8. Callum McCabe led the way for the Metros, his 4-5, with 4 runs and 5RBI, coming in the form of a cycle. He homered in the 1st, singled in the 3rd, doubled in the 7th, and tripled in the 9th. “Yeah, I thought at first it was a home run,” he said afterwards, “but then i realized it wasn't quite going to make it so I just pinned the ears back and kept running. Lucky the throw was off and I got there.” The Metros made the most of their scoring opportunities, their 17 runs coming off just 17 hits and 4 walks.

10 Feb: Aaron Fingleson had an unenviable streak going, especially for a closer: 9 losses. Today’s was especially gutting. Fingleson came to the hill with Cairns leading 6-5. Blake Rawnsley reached on a fumble by 2B Beau Snell, who’s ZR for the season was a terrible -15.1. Cain Donaldson doubled Rawnsley to 3B. Rodney Ellison and Axel Nankervis were quickly retired but Nigel Anderton prolonged the inning with a patient walk. Toby Norris looked at a strike, then deposited the 0-1 fastball 439 feet back over centre. Walk-off Grand Slam, 9-6 win to Sydney! Fingleson had now blown 7 saves during the season, his overall record 3-10, with 26 saves and a 6.08 ERA.

11 Feb: Armando Santos was making the most of his call-up to the bigs. He only played 4 games over the last week but impressed enough to win the weekly award. A pair of double-homer games surely helped, as did his stat-line of .583/.667/1.750.

11 Feb: Moore jagged homerun #44 in Adelaide’s 5-3 win over Perth. It was his only hit in a 1-3, 1 walk night but was worth 3 runs. It also gave him exactly 300 total bases for the season.

11 Feb: Brisbane got past Christchurch 5-3, Steedman getting through the 9th on 11 pitches after giving up a leadoff walk. He finished the game by inducing a 5-4-3 double-play ball. 68-game save streak. He was now just 3 off Tunnicliffe’s record.

11 Feb: Somebody had to be the pitcher that lost this thriller between Cairns and Sydney. Sadly for Fingleson, he was that man. The game was tied after 9 and remained scoreless until the bottom of the 12th. Fingleson had come on in the 11th and got through the inning fairly untroubled (leadoff single wide of the SS aside). He got the first 2 outs of the 12th easily before Cain Donaldson kept the inning alive via a first-pitch single in between 1B and 2B. He then stole 2B on the very next pitch. With the count 0-2 Rodney Ellison hit a weak fly into right. It found grass and Donaldson was already turning the corner at 3B. 4-3 walk-off win to Sydney. Fingleson now had a 10-game losing streak going.

12 Feb: Hobart beat Wellington 4-2. Isaac Graham got the save, putting his streak at 40.

13 Feb: Adelaide put the heat on Perth, torching them 12-5. Moore went 2-2 with 2 walks. He also scored 3 runs and plated 4 runners. In the 1st he slugged a 2-run homerun, giving him 45 for the season. The 3 runs he scored put him on 101 for the season. He was the first player past 100 runs in 2063.

13 Feb: Despite scoring 6 in the 1st it took the Cowboys 12 innings to defeat the Bandits. They finally did so via a Rowan Kimpton walk-off HR. Steedman was the losing pitcher but as he had come in with the game tied his save streak was still alive. Kimpton was 4-6 on the night with 2 dingers.

14 Feb: Edward Vance cruised to his 17th win of the season, throwing 7 innings for 2 earned runs in Christchurch’s 5-2 win over Wellington. He now had a 15-game undefeated streak going, as well as an 11-game win streak.

15 Feb: Aaron Fingleson was an ecstatic man after Cairns’ 10-6 win over Kununurra. He’d thrown the top of the 9th with the scores tied and walked away a winner, snapping his losing streak at 10. A sideline reporter tried to interview him after the team celebrations but the studio had to quickly cut away as all that came out of his mouth were a string of happy expletives. The real hero, however, was Michael Baker. He came up with the bases loaded and 2 away. He pulled an 0-1 splitter over left and out of reach of a leaping leftfielder at the fence. Walk-off Grand Slam! Beau Snell was front and centre too, going 5-5 with 4 runs for his second 5-hit haul of the season.

15 Feb: Moore’s solo HR in the 6th was Adelaide’s only score in a 4-1 loss to Sydney. Moore was now just 4HR off the magic 50.

16 Feb: Orlando Perez had a perpetually sad face. And to be fair, the 24 y/o hadn’t had all that many reasons for joy this season. Today he broke out a rare smile, however, after coming from the mound having completed a 5-hit, 1-walk shutout of the Heat. He struck out 3 and his Prospects eased to a 6-0 win.

16 Feb: A 2-out single proved no hurdle for Steedman, who finished the inning and game with a groundball out to 1B. Brisbane had held off Melbourne 4-3 and Steedman had consecutive save number 69.

17 Feb: Whangarei handed Darwin a 15-4 walloping, putting together 20 base hits in the process. All but 1 of their starting lineup had 2 or more hits. Of those 20 hits, only 1 was worth 4 bags, a 5th-inning, 3-run John Roberts jack.

17 Feb: Rowan Kimpton had a night to remember. Not only did he hit 2 homeruns in Christchurch’s 13-6 rout of Wellington, one of which was a Grand Slam, he also drew 4 walks, equalling the Christchurch game record. All in all he was 2-2, with 2HR, 2 runs, 5RBI and 4 walks.

18 Feb: Lachlan Limeburner was awarded PotW after he hit .571/.600/.750.

18 Feb: That Zglinicki! To be fair, his season had only been middling to-date but when he was on he was on. Darwin had no answers for his guile and he shut them out with a 3-hit, 3-walk, 9-strikeout performance, Central Coast cruising to an easy 7-0 win. That was Zglinicki’s third shutout of the season and moved him into a share of top spot on the all-time shutout list. He joined Jay Cummins, Keiran Tennant and Eddie Rayner. At only 28 y/o one had to think Zglinicki had a few left in him yet.

19 Feb: Guillermo Julio recorded a 20-game hit streak in Newcastle’s narrow 6-5 loss to Cairns. He left it late, singling in his final at-bat of the night, in the 8th. His streak would end the following night.

19 Feb: Steedman just kept rolling on, an implacable force. Brisbane scored 6 in the 1st but couldn’t cross home plate again, Auckland pulling to within 1 with the bottom of the 9th looming. Steedman needed only 4 pitches to get the first 2 outs but then stuttered, Callum McCabe singling off a 3-2 pitch and Rich Downes refusing to chase any of the low and away stuff Steedman threw at him. But with the winning run at 1B Steedman got Chuk-yan Lung swinging and missing. 6-5 Brisbane victory and 70th save in a row for Steedman, whose teammates had taken to calling him ‘Steely.’

19 Feb: Christchurch had quietly fashioned the best record in the league, sitting at 78-54 after today’s 9-3 defeat of Perth. The winning pitcher was Vance, who moved to 18 wins for the season after a 7.1 inning, 3-run performance. His undefeated streak now sat at 16, and his win streak at 12.

19 Feb: Whangarei scored 14 across the first 2 innings of their game against Canberra, ripping the heart out of the Cavalry. They went on to win 18-2, with 24 base hits and 6 walks. They amassed that total without hitting a solitary homerun and only 5 doubles. They sent 14 hitters to the plate in the 1st and 11 in the 2nd. Jacob Sheppard was the only player not to get 2 hits or better, though his 1-3 was accompanied by 3 walks.

20 Feb: John Foreman was having a whale of a time in Wellington. He helped the Fury dispose of the Aces today with a 5-6 showing, the first time in his pro career that he’d hit 5 or more times in a single game. In the 5th he bashed a 3-run homer, giving him a 4-game HR streak for the second time this season. The blast was also his 40th for the campaign. He was doing his free agency prospects absolutely no harm at all.

20 Feb: And the streak was equalled! Steedman had 3 runs up his sleeve for this one and made short work of Auckland’s hitters, needing just 5 pitches to retire the side, his outs including a 3-pitch punch-out. 71 consecutive saves for Steedman!

21 Feb: Blown it! Isaac Graham came to the mound with Hobart leading Adelaide 4-3. He got in trouble immediately, giving up a single to Li Hayes. PH Norm Donaldson walked on 4 pitches before Brandon Tierney bunted both runners into scoring position. Andrew Benbow ground out and Hayes stayed put at 3B. Perhaps Graham could get out of the jam. He could not. Mitch Goddard worked the count to 3-1 before punching a single wide of 2B. Both runners came home and Graham’s save streak ended at 43.

21 Feb: Angel Rivera hit a solo HR in the top of the 1st of Darwin’s 4-3 win over Central Coast. That hit gave him a 20-game streak. Rivera had also recorded a 20-game hit streak last season.

21 Feb: Another veteran 1B got in on the 5-hit parade. Lance Fookes paced Christchurch’s offense perfectly, his 5-5 contributing 3 ribbies in a 9-3 win over Perth.

23 Feb: It had been broken! The record Terence Tunnicliffe set right back near the inception of the AUNZBL, of 71 consecutive saves, was now officially number 2 on the all-time saves streak board. The new record holder was a 32 y/o southpaw who might never have played professional baseball if not for the ABC actively holding player try-outs. Now in the AUNZBL, he’d started his current streak with his very first save of the 2062 season. Since then, he’d came to the mound 72 times with the opportunity to save the game and hadn’t failed once. Today a team shutout was on the line, Brisbane leading Darwin 3-0 with the top of the 9th to play. Steedman was focused, blowing away the first 2 hitters before inducing a weak groundball to the 1B that he fittingly finished off at the bag.

The home fans were rapturous, Steedman eventually doing 2 laps of honour around the stadium. “Yeah,” he said in the post-match presser, scratching the back of his head, “to break a record that’s been around that long, that’s pretty special all right. Just a combination of things coming together really. Lots of luck, too. Definitely lots of that.”

23 Feb: Tunnicliffe’s record wasn’t the only long-standing AUNZBL mark to fall this day. In his last start, John Zglinicki had thrown a 3-hit shutuout. Today he struck out Canberra in the bottom of the 1st, giving a preview of what was to come. He gave up a single in the 3rd, hit a batter in the 6th, hit another in the 8th, and allowed 1 final single in the 9th. Meanwhile, Central Coast were making hay, racking up 12 unanswered runs. Zglinicki struck out 7 for his fourth shutout of the season, equalling the season record already held by Owen Higgins and Jay Cummins. It was also the 12th shutout of his career, more than any other AUNZBL pitcher had managed.

A reporter managed to grab him as he walked off the mound after the final out. When asked how he felt, he said, with a cheeky smile, “I reckon I’ve got another dozen in me before I’m through.”

24 Feb: Angel Rivera went 0-5 in Darwin’s 10-inning 2-1 loss to Brisbane. His hit streak thus ended at 21 games. Steedman threw 2 scoreless innings for Brisbane, earning his seventh win of the season.

24 Feb: Kapow, wallop, crash! Adelaide were sloppy in the field, committing 3 errors, but still ran away with this one, beating up Kununurra 16-7, 14 of their runs coming from the 5th inning onward. Moore contributed 2 to the scoreboard in the 7th with his 47th homer of the year but he wasn’t the star of the night. That honour went firmly and plainly to 29 y/o CF Andrew Benbow who was 6-6, with a HR, 3 runs, and 5RBI. His 6th hit, a 3-run homerun in the 9th, was a fitting way to finish the game’s scoring. Benbow was the second person this season to collect 6 hits in a game, Jai Rowe having done so back in October.

25 Feb: Lance Fookes cracked .565/.565/.913 over the last week. He was awarded PotW.

25 Feb: Barry Dean didn’t have a happy outing, giving up all 6 runs in Perth’s 6-4 loss to Melbourne. He allowed 8 hits, 2 of which went the distance, and 1 walk. He did, however, strike out 5, giving him exactly 200 strikeouts for the season. He was the first pitcher to reach that mark.

25 Feb: Adelaide overwhelmed Kununurra 12-6 to win their 6th on the trot. Moore went 2-3, with a walk, 3 runs and 3RBI, in the victory. He tripled in the 1st and homered in the 7th. He needed just 2 more homeruns to get to 50.

25 Feb: The Fury devoured the Metros 10-1. Foreman had just 1 hit for the night but it was a memorable one. He came to the plate with the bases drunk in the 4th and sent the 3-2 pitch just deep enough over left-centre. Grand Slam and homer #41 for the season.

26 Feb: Christchurch disposed of Hobart 8-2. Edward Vance was the winning pitcher, throwing 7-innings of 5-hit, 4-walk, 2-run ball. He struck out 6 for his 19th win of the season. His undefeated streak was now at 17 starts, his winning streak at 13.

26 Feb: Auckland prevailed over Wellington in today’s derby by the score of 8-4. Foreman was the provider of 3 of Wellington’s runs, hitting a solo shot in the 5th and a 2-run bomb in the 9th. 43 homers for the outspoken veteran.

28 Feb: Foreman was closing in on Moore. His solo shot in the 7th inning of Wellington’s 7-4 defeat of the Diggers pulled him to within 4 of the Adelaide 1B, who went 0-5 in a 7-5 loss to Christchurch.

Notable Injuries

5 Feb: Auckland catcher Tommy Worsfold (.248/.327/.381, 11HR) was done for the season thanks to a hip strain, paving the way for Reginald Puckeridge to start every day until the end of the campaign.

7 Feb: Gilberto Soberon (.317/.360/.508, 10HR from 349PA) was off to the DL for his second lengthy stint of the season. This time a hamstring strain was to blame, team medical staff estimating 4 weeks out.

10 Feb: “Probably the most talented hitter in baseball right now,” was how one analyst described Andre Wiltshire (.331/.396/.479, 6HR), to which the other members of the panel show nodded in agreement. Unfortunately, Wiltshire, who’d likely file for free agency this offseason, couldn’t seem to stay out of harm’s way. He’d already spent most of November and December on the DL with a hamstring strain and shoulder problems. Now he was off to the DL again, this time with a fractured finger. He might make it back for the end of the season, he might not.

11 Feb: Axel Nankervis (.317/.347/.496, 21HR) tore his groin. Ouch! He was a chance at returning if Sydney (60-64 - 4 games back in the Southern) made the postseason.

14 Feb: Clint Kline (12-7, 4.32 ERA, 4.19 FIP, 1.16 WHIP) threw just 1 inning on the 11th in his first game back after his brawling suspension. He came from the mound at the end of the inning clutching at his shoulder and immediately headed down the tunnel to the locker room. Today the diagnosis was in: shoulder inflammation. Kline would play no further part in the season, regular or post.

14 Feb: Adelaide fan favourite Rafael Hurlson (12-7, 3.93 ERA, 4.26 FIP, 1.32 WHIP) would have to hope the fans still remembered him in 13 months’ time. That was how long it was estimated he’d take to repair his torn rotator cuff to a level where he could pitch in the majors again.

14 Feb: The Venom suffered another blow, with everyday SS Carlos Acevedo (.249/.287/.429, 18HR, +4.1ZR) set to miss 5 weeks with a fractured hand.

24 Feb: It was unlikely Guillermo Julio (.308/.379/.487, 14HR, 34SB) would be sighted again this season. He had been diagnosed with shoulder tendinitis. At the time of his injury he led the league in triples, with 13.

26 Feb: 2 days after his 6-hit effort, Andrew Benbow (.285/.356/.420, 8HR from 376PA) strained a rib cage muscle diving around in the field. He would take no further part in the regular season.

29 Feb: Melbourne, engaged in a real tussle with Hobart for the Southern Division pennant, were rocked by news that 2062 RotY and ABC recruit Sebastian Horton (.277/.330/.460, 23HR) had fractured his finger. He certainly wouldn’t be back during the regular season and was a 50-50 proposition should the Aces make the playoffs.

29 Feb: Neil Bellett (.275/.417/.500, 24HR) was a hero. Heading into the team motel after dinner following their 10-2 loss to Brisbane he heard screams from further down the street. Without hesitation he took off to investigate and discovered a mugging in progress. He charged into the fray, wrestling with the attacker and wrenched the victim's bag free. The mugger took off, having slashed and missed at Bellett with a knife a couple times. Unfortunately, as the mugger ran off Bellett fell and knocked his head against a wall, picking up a concussion that would keep him sidelined for a week or two. “That doesn’t matter,” he said from his home. “Things could’ve been a whole lot worse. Thankfully that lady wasn’t hurt.”

29 Feb: Beau Snell (.338/.387/.445, 5HR) sprained his thumb on an awkward hop on the 27th. He might make it back for the last game or two of the regular season.

29 Feb: The Crocs were dealt another blow in their pennant race. Claudio Lara (.256/.368/.373, 8HR from 397PA) was off to the DL again, this time with a sprained ankle. “A month,” the team doctor answered authoritatively when asked how long before Lara would return.

Notable Trades/Signings

9 Feb: Nobody had been willing to take a punt on 34 y/o Arthur Hammer (99-77, 4.36 ERA, 4.47 FIP, 1.44 WHIP) while he recovered from a torn flexor tendon that ended up keeping him side-lined for 13 months. Fit again, Jakarta were willing to deal, signing him for the remainder of this season and next, though the 2064 season was a player option.

Month Awards

Rookie of the Month: 27 y/o Chuk-yan Lung was enjoying his midseason move to Auckland. He was discovered playing semi-pro ball in New South Wales - another talented kid who couldn’t take the traditional baseball pathways due to not having attended the right schools - at the beginning of the 2062 season, and quickly found his way into the bigs after crushing AAA pitching to the tune of .359/.460/.587 in 113PA. His OPS+ in 2063 had been 122 before Kununurra traded him to Auckland and had jumped to 139 while in a Metros uniform. He won RotM for February, hitting .352/.381/.657 in 25 games, his 37-105 including 8 doubles and 8HR. He scored 19 runs, drove in 26 runners and walked 4 times.

Hurler of the Month: The season’s last HotM award went to Venom starter Teddy Wigley. The 29 y/o ‘traditional’ pitcher (he threw a fastball, curve, slider and changeup) went 5-0 from 5 starts, his ERA 2.29, FIP 3.25, and WHIP 1.08. In 35.1 innings he struck out 25 hitters while conceding only 26 hits and 1HR. For the season Wigley had 16 wins, tied for second-best in the league.

Slugger of the Month: Rich Downes had been the glue in the middle of an Auckland lineup constantly affected by injury in 2063. He harassed AUNZBL pitching to the tune of .430/.496/.776 in February, collecting 46 hits from 107 at-bats. He hit 11 doubles, 1 triple, and 8 four-baggers while scoring 26 runs, bringing 24 runners home, and walking 15 times.

Media Watch

Ismael Aguirre: Aguirre played 1 game for the Glenn Innes Joes, going 2-4 with a walk in an extra-innings loss, before getting called back up into the big-league squad. He languished on the Central Coast bench for 10 days without appearing in a single game before he was sent back down to triple-A. 3 games later he fractured his rib while diving to complete a double and it was estimated he was still another couple weeks away from playing again. It was looking increasingly unlikely he’d score the 4 runs he needed to reach 2000. However, if he were to finish the season and then retire without getting another big league hit, he’d have a career major-league record of 6,666 bases, a pretty amusing number and 956 more than the next-best hitter, Alastair Mildren.

Marcos Lopez: Lopez turned 40 during the month but Sydney were still batting him third and he was steadily accumulating hits. For the season he had a .271/.320/.432 stat-line, with 28 doubles and 17HR. His 136 hits gave him 3074 for his career. He needed only 6 in March to surpass Brock Wakely and take fourth spot on the all-time hits chart.

Other Notes

Every division bar the NZ was a hot contest heading into March.

Coastal Division: Adelaide (15-12) just couldn’t break clear. While Darwin (11-16) slipped off the pace in February, Cairns (18-9) stepped it up, the Venom and Crocs finishing the month on level pegging. Darwin was 7 games behind.

East-West Division: The East-West was anybody’s, well anybody’s except Newcastle’s. Central Coast (17-11) entered the home stretch ahead by 1, with Brisbane (17-11) and Kununurra (11-16) jostling 1 game back.

NZ Division: Christchurch (18-9) followed up their excellent January with a superb February, leaving the rest of the division in their dust. They had a lead of 14 and a magic number of 8.

Southern Division: Hobart (17-10) fought their way to even with Melbourne (15-12) at the top of the Southern. Sydney (15-12) were playing below .500 but still within striking distance, just 4 games back.

Wildcard: Either Adelaide or Cairns held a 7-game lead in the first slot, while Brisbane, Darwin and Kununurra all jostled for the second slot. Hobart and Melbourne were only 1 game back, while Auckland, lurking 4 games behind, was an outside shot if the teams ahead of them faltered and they flew.


Richard Moore (.321/.433/.630, 48HR) finally had a down month, hitting just .235/.357/.461. He managed 6HR, giving him 48 for the season, a league-best. He also topped the AUNZBL in SLG, OPS, wOBA (.436), RBI (128), and runs (114). He’d walked 106 times, giving him a runs-walks double-double.

Ronald Aitken (.313/.422/.518, 24HR) had also achieved the runs-walks double-double already, with 109 runs and 105 walks.

Vern Bull (.318/.448/.568, 29HR) edged Moore in the WAR stakes by a couple decimals, his 7.0 mark putting him atop that board. He led all-comers in OBP, too.

Callum McCabe (.345/.418/.527, 12HR) had the best BA among qualified hitters.

Yoshihito Morimoto (.321/.354/.361, 1HR) had 192 hits, best in the league, and was tied with Edgardo Rico (.313/.355/.413, 5HR) and Tomas Zartuche (.324/.364/.450, 9HR) for the stolen base lead, with 40.

Alan Sneddon (.248/.402/.311, 1HR) had walked 13 more times than anybody else for a grand total of 119 free passes.

John Foreman (.286/.339/.614, 44HR) overtook Moore as the player with the best isolated power (.328).

Norm Blume (.324/.381/.576, 35HR) had 76 XBH, 5 more than anybody else, and 333 total bases, 3 more than anybody else.

Barry Dean (14-9, 2.78 ERA, 2.66 FIP, 1.01 WHIP) led the league in ERA, FIP, WHIP, strikeouts (200), K/BB (5.41), IP (220.0), and WAR (8.3). His WAR was 3.0 better than next-highest.

Edward Vance (19-3, 3.04 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 1.19 WHIP) needed 1 more win to crack 20. He was projecting to be the only pitcher to do so in 2063.

Greg Ahern (13-8, 3.97 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 1.13 WHIP) had 199 strikeouts and was fanning ‘em at a 8.97 rate per 9 innings, best among qualified pitchers.

Isaac Canavan and Isaac Graham were tied atop the saves board, both with 39.

ABC Wrap-up

Brisbane (85-53) had another below par month but looked certain to play postseason ball as the Northern Division champs, their lead over Alice Springs (71-67) 14 games.

Canberra (87-51) and Sydney (87-51) finished the month tied atop the Southern, Sydney putting together an astonishing 23-4 month. Melbourne (82-56) were 5 games back.

Perth (73-65) continued to fend off the persistent Kalgoorlie (72-66), maintaining their 1-game advantage.

Dunedin (80-58) were still cruising in the Overseas, though Jakarta (71-67) were making a late charge.

Zachary Pengilly (.359/.418/.661, 41HR) won Golden Bat and led the ABC in BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, wOBA (.455), hits (202), runs (104), ISO (.302), XBH (83), and total bases (372).

27 y/o Anekelea Kolet (.358/.411/.551, 20HR) had amassed a 9.0 WAR. His +18.6 ZR at CF made him a true all-round player.

AUNZBL Standings, Mar 1
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2063/2064 Season - March

2063/2064 Season - March

Notable Performances

1 Mar: Cairns led Central Coast 9-0 after 3. Then in the bottom of the 5th the Thunder busted out with 10 runs, 4 coming via a Justin Auger Grand Slam. The slammer was his third of the season, all hit since February 20th. Cairns equalized in the 9th, 22 y/o Felix Saturno going deep in his first major-league at-bat. Mario Correa hit his 30th dinger of the year in the 12th and that was enough to see Cairns take it 11-10.

1 Mar: It was another 12-inning affair but not nearly as high-scoring. Wellington and Darwin were tied at 3 after 5 and that’s where it stayed until the bottom of the 12th. With 2 on and 1 out 24 y/o backup catcher Richard Page came out to pinch-hit. With the count 1-2 he lofted a fly to left-centre. It landed 428 feet back among a sea of grasping gloves and that was that. 6-3 Darwin via a pinch-hit walk-off 3-run homer.

2 Mar:Edward Vance didn’t get the W in Christchurch’s 6-4 triumph over Melbourne, the go-ahead runs not scored until after he left the mound. But while he didn’t have 20 wins yet, his undefeated streak had now risen to 18 games.

2 Mar: Adelaide knocked off Newcastle 9-1. Moore went 3-5 in the victory, doubling in the 4th and hitting his 49th homer of the season in the 6th. Greg Ahern struck out 11 in a complete game performance, leapfrogging Barry Dean to the top of the strikeout leaderboard with 210.

2 Mar: Claudio Banda had the Brisbane hitters frazzled and confused, restricting them to just 6 hits in a shutout victory. He struck out 2, Cairns winning 4-0.

2 Mar: Sydney and Central Coast toiled for 13 innings - the Thunder’s second 4+ hour game in 2 days - before Nigel Anderton singled home Andrew Appleby for a walk-off 5-4 Sydney victory. Marcos Lopez went 2-7. He needed just 2 more hits to overtake Brock Wakely at #4 on the all-time hits ladder.

2 Mar: Auckland and Hobart also duked it out for 13, both teams using 7 pitchers. Hobart equalized in the bottom of the 9th but couldn’t make the most of their comeback, Juliano Rum singling home the go-ahead run in the top of the 13th. Hobart got 2 runners aboard in the bottom of the inning but couldn’t score them, going down 6-5.

3 Mar: Yoshihito Morimoto won PotW. The scrappy 3B hit .469/.514/.688, his 15-32 including his first HR of the season.

3 Mar: The Blue Sox walked off 6-5 winners over Central Coast thanks to a 3-run Nigel Anderton dinger. For the Thunder Morimoto was 3-5, giving him 201 hits for the season. He was the first batter to reach that mark in 2063.

3 Mar:Wellington and its fans had known it for most of the season but today they were officially eliminated from playoff contention. They sank 3-1 to Canberra, their season record 57-87. Canberra’s win lifted them to the same mark. They were not yet officially eliminated.

3 Mar: Cairns downed Brisbane 7-5. Felix Saturno pinch-hit in the 7th, hitting a 3-run HR. He also hit a HR yesterday in his first major-league start. That gave him the unusual distinction of his first 3 major-league hits being homeruns.

3 Mar: Stephane Lecomte equalled the AUNZBL game record for steals, swiping 4 in Darwin’s 3-1 win over Perth.

4 Mar: Steedman hadn’t saved a game since his record-breaker on the 24th February. He’d appeared twice since then, but not in save situations. Today he came up against Cairns in the bottom of the 9th with a 2-run lead on his side. Rusty? Nah. It did take him 17 pitches to get through the inning but he allowed no hits and struck out 1, Brisbane winning 4-2. The save streak moved to 73.

4 Mar: This series between the Blue Sox and Thunder had been tight all the way so far and the third game proved no exception. Sydney took a 3-0 lead into the 5th before Central Coast scored 6 in a 10-man rally. Despite scoring 1 in both the 6th and 7th the Blue Sox could get no closer, going down 6-5. Lopez went 3-4 with 3RBI in the loss. His first hit, a 2-run homer in the 1st, tied him with Wakely on 3079 career hits. His single in the 3rd pushed him clear. He needed 105 more to draw level with Ashley Snijders in third spot.

4 Mar: The Fury came from behind to beat Canberra 5-4, Foreman providing the winning hit via a walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th. He also homered in the 3rd, his 45th of the year.

5 Mar: Rowan Kimpton became the third player to 40 homeruns this season, his solo shot Christchurch’s only scoring act in a 6-1 loss to Melbourne. This was the third time in his major-league career that Kimpton had made it to 40 dingers in a season.

5 Mar: Newcastle were officially eliminated today, their fate sealed in ignominious fashion as Adelaide’s Nick Aston whitewashed them on the back of 6 hits, no walks, and 7 strikeouts. Adelaide eased to a 5-0 win.

5 Mar: Canberra were also scratched out of playoff contention after their 2-1 loss to Wellington.

5 Mar: The streak was finally over. Steedman came to the mound in the 9th with Brisbane ahead of Cairns 3-2. It was easy to see he wasn’t quite his usual self. He walked Gary Baker on 4 pitches. Baker was bunted into scoring position before Steedman walked Alan Willey on 6 pitches after falling behind 3-0. Jose de la Cruz singled to load the bases before Jarod Boxsell sent a fly deep to centre. It was tracked down and caught near the wall but the pinch-runner at 3B tagged up and scampered home unopposed. Steedman got the final out and cut a dejected figure heading to the dugout.

Surprisingly, he was kept in for the 10th. Mario Correa walked, advanced to 2B on a wild pitch and made 3B on a ground-out. Ernan Pullenza was intentionally walked and young Felino Saturno headed out as a pinch-hitter. He drove his 2-2 pitch down the leftfield line and it looked like it might have enough to go all the way. It didn’t, hitting the bottom of the wall. Correa scored and Saturno was adjudged to have hit a double.

“Guess it had to happen sometime,” Steedman said in the locker rooms later, dejected. “My rhythm was off and it showed in what happened. I’m pretty gutted, to be honest.” Still, 73 consecutive saves was nothing to sneeze at and wasn’t likely to get passed anytime soon.

8 Mar: Auckland knocked off Christchurch 8-6. The losing pitcher was Edward Vance, who only threw 3 innings, getting tagged for 6 hits and 2 walks, the result 6 earned runs. Thus ended Vance’s undefeated and win streaks at 18 and 13 games respectively. The win kept Auckland in the wildcard hunt, 4 games back. In their way were Brisbane, Central Coast and Darwin. Cairns had a 7-game buffer in the first wildcard spot.

8 Mar: Perth surrendered 7-4 to Canberra, thus putting a line through any playoff hopes their most ardent fans may still have held.

8 Mar: Across in the ABC, Si-xun Qiao reached 50HRs in the Melbourne Victory’s 2-1 win over Hamilton. He’d started the month on 44 homers.

9 Mar: Michael Baker was loving being an everyday player. The Cairns’ catcher went 1-4 in a 5-3 loss to Wellington, giving him a career-first 20-game hit streak.

9 Mar: Christchurch’s 8-5 loss to Auckland would’ve been a lot worse if not for Rowan Kimpton’s 8th-inning 3-run jack. He had 41 homers for the season.

9 Mar: “There’s a lot of tired bodies out there, from both sides,” Aces’ skipper Khullana Vijayshree said, accompanied to the press conference by an obviously exhausted Vern Bull. Melbourne had just come off victorious against Adelaide in a 6 1/2 hour, 21-inning 4-3 epic. Melbourne took a 1-0 lead in the 3rd and added 2 more in the 7th. Adelaide responded with 3 in the bottom of the inning and that was the last scoring for several hours, until Noel Dickson doubled with 1 out in the top of the 21st and scored off a Vern Bull single an out later. Only 1 homer was hit in the match, by Bull in the 7th, and no pitchers really stood out as having special games. Sadao Taniguchi and Pedro Mercado both set Melbourne extra-inning game records for at-bats with 10. The night’s best hitter was 10th-inning Adelaide sub Harrison Baker, who went 3-5. The only other player to collect 3 hits was Melbourne’s Noel Dickson, who was 3-9 with 1 run and 1RBI.

10 Mar: Nathan Kapuna of the Newcastle Roos won PotW. He hit .429/.500/1.286, his 9-21 all extra-base hits (3 doubles, 5HR) bar 1.

10 Mar: Lowly Wellington finished their 4-game set against Cairns with a 7-5 victory in 10 innings, the win giving them a series sweep. PotG was John Foreman who went 3-6 with a double and HR, that HR a 2-run walk-off effort. He moved to 46 four-baggers for the season. Baker extended his hit streak to 21 games via a 3rd-inning homer.

10 Mar: This Canberra-Perth match-up was close until the 7th when Perth sent 13 hitters to the plate to score 10 runs, a 3-run Dermott Alcock homerun capping proceedings. Calvin Hodnett would go yard next inning for 3 runs, the final score in this one 16-3 Heat.

11 Mar: Perth and Cairns slugged it out over 13 innings, the Heat eventually walking off 12-11 winners. Crocs’ RF Javier Rodriguez, hitting at 8 in this one, went 5-6 with 2 doubles.

11 Mar: 24 y/o Marc Kalkman subbed into the field for Kununurra in the 8th inning of their game against Brisbane. Kalkman, out of the New Netherlands, had been a March call-up the last 3 seasons, used as an occasional late-inning defensive sub or pinch-runner. Before today he’d appeared in 12 games but had only 2PA to his name, neither of which had ended with him getting on-base. He came up to bat in the 9th with the bases loaded and 2 out but the game well out of reach, Brisbane leading 14-2. Still, Kalkman wouldn’t ever forget his first major-league hit. It came off a 2-2 fastball on the bottom half of the plate. Kalkman turned on it, sending it deep over leftfield and into the bleachers. Grand Slam! Kalkman, not known for his power (he had 19HR across 7 minor-league seasons), was just as surprised as everybody else. “Yeah,” he said later, “my deepest flyballs usually bounce three times before getting to the shortstop.”

12 Mar: Kimpton hit HR #42 in Christchurch’s 6-4 win over Darwin.

13 Mar: Kununurra went into the bottom of the 9th in their clash with Brisbane down by 4. The first batter of the inning wore a pitch to his thigh, and the second singled. Steedman entered the fray. Nick Ahern singled off Steedman’s first pitch and the runner scored from 2B. Karl Kapua went down swinging. When Domenic Guerin hit a regulation double-play ball to 2B it looked all over rover but SS Sam Richards inexplicably dropped the throw. Bases juiced. Juan Cavazos walked in a run. Ramon Martinez struck out on 9 pitches. Al Ayliffe, who made his name back in 2054 with 3 postseason slammers, came to the plate. He watched a fastball miss high, and then one miss low. The next fastball was on the inside half of the plate and he jumped on it, pulling it over leftfield, over the despairing glove of the leftfielder and into the bleachers. Walk-off Grand Slam! Final score: 9-7 Pioneers. No earned runs were charged to Steedman in what was his second blown save of the month.

13 Mar: Reginald Sorensen’s walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th delivered Christchurch a 5-4 win over Darwin. It also made the Cowboys the 2063 NZ Division Champs. They were the first team to secure a pennant.

13 Mar: The rest of the pennant chases: Adelaide were also guaranteed a playoff appearance, though whether as a wildcard or division winner was yet to be determined. They held a 4-game lead in the Coastal over Cairns, with Darwin 3 back. Both the Crocs and Diggers currently held the wildcard slots, the closest teams 3 games off Darwin. Kununurra were up by 2 in the East-West, Brisbane and Central Coast both chasing hard. Melbourne also held a 2-game lead in the Southern, searching for their first playoff appearance since 2057. Hobart were 2 games back and Sydney 4, though both below .500.

14 Mar: Cairns bashed Perth 15-6, doing so without hitting a homerun. Perth’s pitching was wild; they gave up 12 walks to 13 hits. 2 starting players in the Crocs’ lineup didn’t get a hit. 1 of them was Michael Baker, who went 0-5 with a walk. Thus ended his hit streak at 23 games.

14 Mar: In the 1st inning of Adelaide’s 4-3 win over Whangarei Richard Moore went yard over right, scoring 2 runners. That was his 50th homerun of the season. Moore was the 5th player to reach that milestone in the league’s history. “I’ll tell you one thing I’ve learnt over the last couple weeks,” he said in the aftermatch presser, “nobody wants to be the guy who gives you number 50.”

16 Mar: Moore went 3-4 in Adelaide’s 9-7 win over Auckland. His 3-run shot in the 6th put Adelaide ahead and gave him 51 homers.

16 Mar: Foreman went to 47 with a 4th-inning 2-run homerun in Wellington’s 7-5 victory over Kununurra. “Quite satisfying,” he said when asked to describe how it felt sending one out of the park against the team that had earlier traded him away. Then he went a step further: “Now if we can just help make sure they don’t get to the playoffs, I’ll be really happy.” Kununurra was currently 1 game ahead of Brisbane and Central Coast in the East-West. They were 2 games shy of a wildcard berth and there was every possibility if they were pipped at the division post they would miss out entirely on the playoffs.

16 Mar: Domenic Cook became the fourth player in 2063 to reach 40 homeruns. His 2-run 6th-inning blast put Brisbane ahead of Newcastle and that’s where they stayed, winning 8-6.

17 Mar: Brisbane’s Arturo Medina took out the season’s last PotW award, hitting .448/.543/.966, with 3 doubles and 4HR.

17 Mar: Cairns edged their way past Hobart 3-2 to secure one of the wildcards. With Adelaide having skipped out to a 5-game lead and with a magic number of 1, it was very unlikely the Crocs could seize the pennant.

17 Mar: Teddy Wigley threw 7 scoreless innings and his relief held Auckland out in a 1-0 Adelaide victory. Wigley moved to 19 wins for the season and the Metros were officially eliminated from the postseason race.

17 Mar: Kununurra conspired to lose a 14-inning battle with Wellington 6-4. Rich Hodgson blew his 6th save of the year to allow Wellington to draw level at 3 in the bottom of the 9th. Fast-forward to the 14th and the Pioneers edged in front thanks to a Maurice Clemens solo jack. In the bottom of the inning Luis Martinez and Peter Moy both singled before John Foreman saddled a first-pitch curveball and rode it into over the leftfield fence for a 3-run walk-off HR. The dinger was Foreman’s 48th of the season, a new personal best. He couldn't resist a glare at the Kununurra dugout as he rounded 3B, either.

17 Mar: Brisbane drew level with the Pioneers in the East-West pennant race after a 10-5 win over Newcastle. Domenic Cook launched his 41st homer of the year in the victory. Central Coast lost 5-3 to Whangarei, otherwise they would have had a share of the lead too.

18 Mar: Auckland whipped Adelaide 7-2 but the Venom still sang the team song after the victory. Cairns had lost 4-3 to Hobart, thus gifting the Venom the Coastal pennant. Could Adelaide make it 5 Championships in a row? With a first round bye beckoning, their chances were decent. Tomas Zartuche went 1-4 in the loss, giving him a 20-game hit streak, the second of his big-league career.

18 Mar: Domenic Cook went deep for the third game in a row but it was to no avail, Newcastle getting up 7-4 over Brisbane. 42 homers for Cook, who’d lost a month of the season to injury.

19 Mar: The final series of the season saw the following teams not yet certain of their postseason fate: Darwin, Brisbane, Kununurra, Central Coast, Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney.

Darwin went into their 4-game series with Auckland with a 3-game lead in the second wildcard and a magic number of 2.

Brisbane and Kununurra were tied atop the East-West, with Central Coast a solitary game behind. Brisbane would play Whangarei, Kununurra would take on Perth, and Central Coast would start a tough series against Adelaide.

The Southern was still plenty open, too. Melbourne led Hobart by 2 and Sydney by 3, and were taking on Canberra. Hobart and Sydney would play each other. Melbourne were 88.4% chances to clinch the division. Hobart had an 11.4% chance, while Sydney were given just an 0.3% chance. The Blue Sox would need to sweep the Prospects and Canberra to sweep Melbourne if they were to progress unopposed. If Melbourne dropped 1 game and Sydney took all 4 of theirs that would force a playoff for the pennant. Highly unlikely, but first-year Blue Sox skipper Peter Massingham wasn’t about to give up hope. The 65 y/o, whose sub-500 major-league season record looked set to extend to 12 consecutive years, said, “It’s baseball, anything can happen, and we certainly still believe anything can for us.”

20 Mar: Darwin sealed the second wildcard slot with a 9-2 win over Auckland, after Kununurra got thumped 12-3 by Perth earlier in the day.

20 Mar: The Bandits took the outright lead in the East-West, defeating Whangarei 5-3. Central Coast and Adelaide took their game to extras, the Venom eventually scoring 2 in the 11th to win 7-5. The Thunder dropped to 2 games back in the division.

20 Mar: Melbourne couldn’t get past Canberra, going down 2-1, while Hobart overcame Sydney 6-4. The Prospects moved to within 1 game of the Aces, while Sydney dropped 3 back, eliminated in all but name.

21 Mar: Brisbane tamed Whangarei 11-2, while Kununurra were upset 6-3 by Perth, and Central Coast were easily accounted for 9-3 by Adelaide. The Bandits moved to within 1 win of a first playoff appearance since 2053, the end of their last golden run.

Meanwhile, Central Coast’s defeat eliminated them from playoff contention. This would be the first time they weren’t in the postseason dance since 2055. Already there were strong rumours surrounding the ongoing tenability of first-year GM Andrew Backhouse, with many criticizing the 40 y/o former minor-league reliever’s offseason signing choices. Backhouse had heavily favoured experience, contracting the likes of Aguirre, Yong-jun Chu and Sneddon. Of those three, only Sneddon had been an everyday player and while his plate-eye remained as sharp as ever, he wasn’t offering much else offensively and was clearly not fit to play RF anymore, a position he’d started 86 games in.

21 Mar: Edward Vance had gone 0-2 in March, from 4 starts, to stall at 19 wins and wasn’t likely to start again before the playoffs with Cowboys’ skipper Marcus Kent preferring not to risk injury to the surprise pitching package of 2063. Meanwhile, Teddy Wigley had gone 3-0 from 4 starts for Adelaide before today’s win against Central Coast. He threw 6.0 innings for the victory, the W giving him 20 for the season.

21 Mar: Sydney beat Hobart 7-3 but found themselves no longer in the hunt after Melbourne went on a bombing frenzy against the Cavalry, routing them 20-6. Most of the damage came early - they led 17-5 after 4 - with Glen Walsh going 4-5 with 4 runs and 7RBI. 2 of his hits cleared the fences. 1 more win would give the Aces the Southern Division title.

21 Mar: The Fury roared to a 12-3 win over the Roos. Foreman only collected 1 hit in the encounter but it was a good ‘un. He delivered a 2-run homer in the 1st, putting him just 1 short of 50.

22 Mar: Brisbane led until the 8th inning of their clash with Whangarei before the Sluggers scored 4 to go ahead. The Bandits got within 1 in the 9th but couldn’t go on with it, losing 4-3.

After the game the entire team crowded into the Whangarei clubrooms to watch the Kununurra-Perth match-up. When Hektor Knittle’s bases loaded double off the centrefield wall in the top of the 1st scored 2 to give Perth an early 3-0 advantage the cheers of the Bandits players could be heard in the parking lot. When next-up Hal Boxsell’s 2-2 fly cleared the fence in left, scoring 3 more, Norm Blume made a mad dash down to the changing sheds where long-time skipper Timothy Donaldson and BC Ricardo Herrera were still debriefing. “We’ve done it skip!” Blume shouted before racing back to the clubrooms. Dermott Alcock followed up with a solo HR and Perth were ahead 7-0, the Brisbane players chanting, “Up, up the Heat! Up, up the Heat!”

Kununurra got 3 runs back over the 2nd and 3rd but the result was never in doubt, lowly Perth ending the Pioneers’ season with an 8-3 victory.

22 Mar: Melbourne went into the 8th against Canberra down 4-2. With 2 outs and 1 aboard, Glen Walsh went yard for the second time to tie things up. Canberra couldn’t add anything in the top of the 9th. Caspar Purcell led off the bottom half with a double into the alley in left. Jose Villegas was walked and Luis Cuesta ground into a 6-4-3 double-play. Purcell scooted to 3B and dashed home without a throw when Noel Dickson’s shallow line drive bisected the LF and CF. Walk-off, division-winning 5-4 victory.

22 Mar: The Hobart-Sydney game started at the same time as the Melbourne-Canberra affair but the Blue Sox and Prospects were only in the 8th inning of theirs when Melbourne clinched the division. The news flashed up on the big screens at Prospects Ballpark and the fans and Hobart players alike groaned in disappointment. Sydney, already leading 3-2, took advantage of Hobart’s lack of interest to score 4 in the 9th via a Bailey Kinnear Grand Slam. They ran out 7-2 winners.

23 Mar: Rowan Kimpton went 2-5 in Christchurch’s 5-3 come-from-behind win over Cairns. His second hit of the game, in the bottom of the 9th, was of the walk-off variety. He crushed a linedrive 432 feet over left, the ball thudding off the upper-tier deck. It was worth 2 runs and was his 43rd of the season.

23 Mar: Zartuche couldn’t carry his hit streak over to next season. He went 0-4 in Adelaide’s 4-2 loss to the Central Coast. His streak had lasted 23 games.

Notable Injuries

11 Mar: Greg Ahern left the game on the 7th after 5, his arm hanging limply by his side. Since then, Venom management and fans alike had been hanging on to hope the injury wasn’t as bad as it looked. If anything, it was probably worse. Scans showed Ahern had torn his elbow ligament and probably wouldn’t be back until around this time next season. The Venom, 4 games up in the Coastal and essentially guaranteed a playoff spot, were shaken. Their starters had the third-best ERA in the league, and had an 18-game winner in Teddy Wigley, but Ahern was their ace, a guy who’d won 18 games 3 of the last 4 seasons and thrown well - even if W-L last postseason said otherwise - both of the last playoff campaigns. Without him their rotation suddenly looked a lot skinnier, and other teams would grow in confidence just because of that.

12 Mar:For some reason Keiran Cooper (.296/.336/.415, 5HR from 339PA) had struggled to hold down a corner OF spot in Thunder-town for the first half of the season but had been a constant presence in the second half. He’d sprained his ankle and wouldn’t be back during the regular season. If Central Coast (1 game back - tied with Brisbane for second) made the playoffs the team’s medical staff were cautiously optimistic he’d be okay to feature in the second playoff round.

18 Mar: Perth’s Calvin Hodnett (.285/.355/.511, 32HR) wouldn’t turn out for the final series of the 2063 season thanks to a high ankle sprain.

21 Mar: Blair Norris (17-8, 3.87 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 1.38 WHIP) strained his oblique in the loss versus Perth. He’d be out of action a couple weeks so wouldn’t be around to help Kununurra in the first couple rounds of the playoffs were they to make it.

Notable Trades/Signings

12 Mar: Waiver wire trades were always interesting, and especially so when they involved 2 teams still very much in playoff contention. Darwin, while 6 games back in the Coastal, had a 4-game buffer in the second wildcard slot and were on a 6-game tear. Central Coast were one of the teams 4 games back but were also just 2 games shy of Kununurra in the East-West, who’d surrendered the slender 1-game lead they held coming into March.

Darwin already had the second-best bullpen in the league but wanted to add another arm to it. The Thunder had a below par offense. The deal ended up being: Thunder to send 34 y/o relief pitcher Domenic Purss (8-2, 4 sv, 4.80 ERA) and a 21 y/o pitching prospect who’d probably be major-league ready in another season, Darwin to part with 31 y/o 2B Gu Luo (.278/.300/.452, 21HR), who had 2 postseason MVP awards to his name and a cannon for an arm.

Media Watch

Ismael Aguirre: After recovering from his fractured rib Aguirre spent the month riding the big-league pine. He got a solitary at-bat, on the 22nd. It didn’t last long or go well. He took a big cut at the first pitch he saw and popped out to the shortstop. Most pundits thought he’d retire once the season concluded. Aguirre managed 36 big-league hits in 2063, giving him 3743 all-time, 521 more than any other AUNZBL player had managed in the 45-year history of the league. He added 3 homeruns to his tally, with nobody else close on that count either. The next-best active player was Justin Auger, who had 469.

Marcos Lopez: Would 40 y/o Marcos Lopez play on next season? He finished the year hitting .270/.321/.428, with 20HR, from 653PA in 152 games, moving to 3099 career hits. If he did have another go-around in the AUNZBL next season he’d need 88 hits to overtake Ashley Snijders (3186) for third place all-time.

Other Notes

21 Mar: Wellington’s rookie backup catcher, 25 y/o Javier Alvarez (.290/.333/.426, 4HR from 177PA), failed a drug test immediately after the game on the 18th and was today handed an 80-game suspension. A remorseful Alvarez said he “only had himself to blame,” and that he let his “competitive desire get the better” of him.


The 2063 batting champ was... Beau Snell (.337/.386/.442, 5HR), who edged out rookie Jay Watts (.335/.388/.581, 33HR). Vern Bull (.333/.459/.578, 33HR) also hit over .330.

Bull had a career season, finishing well atop the WAR board (8.8), his mark the highest amongst hitters since 2049. In fact, he was the first player since that year to get 8.50 WAR or higher. He also finished the season with the best weighted on-base percentage (.439).

Richard Moore (.317/.433/.610, 51HR) not only took out the homerun crown, he also scored the most runs (128), and had the best SLG and OPS. He tied with Mario Correa (.323/.355/.554, 34HR) for most RBI, both players plating 140 runners during the season.

The following players surpassed the 40HR mark:

John Foreman (.292/.353/.615, 47HR)
Rowan Kimpton (.283/.312/.532, 43HR)
Domenic Cook (.322/.378/.609, 42HR)

Foreman topped the ISO rankings, with a mark of .309.

Moore achieved the runs-walks double-double too (128-124), as did the following:

Ronald Aitken (.309/.420/.521, 28HR, 122-121)
Jesus Vega (.248/.365/.378, 12HR, 115-105)
Jose de la Cruz (.291/.411/.387, 4HR, 114-103)

Tomas Zartuche (.329/.374/.454, 10HR) finished up with 220 hits, 1 more than anybody else. He also led the league in steals (48) in a season where nobody reached the 50 mark.

6 other players surpassed 200 hits:

Yoshihito Morimoto (.323/.357/.371, 1HR, 219 hits)
Norm Blume (.323/.379/.571, 39HR, 218 hits)
Angel Rivera (.320/.353/.504, 23HR, 214 hits)
Glen Walsh (.321/.381/.535, 31HR, 212 hits)
Edgardo Rico (.324/.366/.431, 5HR, 210 hits)
Rich Downes (.323/.386/.547, 33HR, 205 hits)

Blume cranked out 87 extra-base hits, 11 more than any other player. His 50 doubles led that category, as did his 385 total bases.

Alan Sneddon (.241/.396/.306, 2HR) bid farewall to the game, going out doing what he did best: judging the strikezone. His 138 walks was a league-topper.

Guillermo Julio (.308/.379/.487, 14HR) held onto the triples lead, finishing the season with 13.

Adelaide's Teddy Wigley (20-11, 4.00 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.24 WHIP) was the only pitcher to 20 wins in 2063. With teammates Greg Ahern and Rafael Hurlson both sidelined with injury, a lot would fall on Wigley’s shoulders this postseason.

Barry Dean (16-12, 2.80 ERA, 2.78 FIP, 1.04 WHIP) was once again mighty but as per usual hampered by playing on one of the league’s worst teams. He topped his peers in ERA, FIP, WHIP, strikeouts (236), IP (257.1), and WAR (9.3). His 8.25 K/9, 5.24 K/BB, 7.76 H/9, and .230 OAVG were all second-best among qualified pitchers, while his 1.57 BB/9 and 0.52 HR/9 were both third-best. Dean was signed with Perth for 2 more seasons but several analysts predicted he’d ask for a trade to a contender during the offseason. His WAR mark was a new season record, surpassing the mark of 9.11 he'd set in 2061.

The injured Greg Ahern (14-8, 3.79 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 1.10 WHIP) had the best K/9 rate (9.10) and K/BB rate (5.27).

Isaac Canavan (7-5, 45 sv) led the league in saves for the second straight year, having also been the leading closer in 2060.

ABC Wrap-up

The ABC still had 3 regular season games to play and 2 of the divisions were still up for grabs.

In the Southern, Canberra (99-60) held a 1-game lead over Melbourne (98-61), with Sydney (97-62) still in with a slim shot, 2 games back. The Capitals were on a 3-game skid while the Victory had won 7 in a row. Once again, the rules meant that 2 teams with close to the best records in the league would miss out on the playoffs.

The Western was the other yet-to-be crowned division. Kalgoorlie and Perth (both 85-74) were locked together at the top. Kalgoorlie was the favourite to take it as their final series was against the Port Moresby Kumuls (60-99), who were dead last in the Overseas, while Perth had to take on Sydney.

The Brisbane Broncos (97-62) had eased up on the reins over the second half of the season but had still comfortably won the Northern, while Dunedin (93-66) had seen off Jakarta’s late surge to claim the Overseas and head to the postseason for the first time.

Si-xun Qiao (.331/.416/.656, 56HR) had gone bonkers in March, slugging 12HR in 21 games to tie the league HR record with 3 games to play. He’d also driven in an astonishing 161 runners, smashing the previous record of 136 set by Gavin Howell in 2061. The 123 runs he’d scored was also a new season record, as were his total bases (407 - first player past the 400-base mark) and WAR (9.8). He led the league in OBP, SLG, OPS, wOBA (.454), ISO (.326), and XBH (89) as well.

ABC rookie Nelson Whiffin (2-6, 46 sv), who’d moved across from the Canberra Cavalry to the Canberra Capitals during the offseason, led the league in saves with 46. His ERA was just 1.88, and his FIP a measly 2.19. He was fanning 11.5 batters every 9 innings pitched.

AUNZBL Standings, EORS
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Old 11-18-2017, 01:59 AM   #734
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2062 Division Finals

2062 Division Finals

Game 1 - Brisbane Bandits vs Darwin Diggers

The first runs of this series were scored in the bottom of the 2nd when David Anderton deposited a 2-2 splitter into the RF bleachers, scoring 2. The hit was the first of Anderton’s major-league postseason career, in his first postseason at-bat. An error and a wild pitch in the bottom of the 3rd combined to see Stephane Lecomte at 3B with nobody out. Martin Boston sac-flied him home, Darwin moving to a 3-0 lead.

Brisbane jammed the bases with 1 out in the 5th and a wild pitch allowed their opening run to score. An out later Norm Blume flared a single into shallow right and both runners scampered home to tie the game up.

Roy Blake (6.0IP, 5H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB, 5K) sat down after 6.

With 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th Anderton doubled into the RF corner. Dustin Bacon then singled up the middle and Anderton beat the throw home to score the go-ahead run. Gustavo Sosa extended the inning with another single before Fenton gave the Diggers some breathing space, crashing a 3-run homer over left.

Zachariah Pond (8.0IP, 8H, 3ER, 2BB, 3K) took a seat for the 9th, replaced by closer Rod Bacon. Bacon looked hittable, giving up 2 singles but he got the job done, the Diggers winning 7-3. Hitters 7-9 contributed 6 of Brisbane’s 10 hits.

Game 1 - Melbourne Aces vs Cairns Crocs

Sadao Taniguchi led off the game with a triple into the RF corner and scored off Noel Dickson’s following ground-out. 1-0 Melbourne after 1.

A 2-out Ernan Pullenza double in the 2nd tied the game, Chi-seong Lee scoring all the way from 1B. Jose de la Cruz and Ronald Aitken both drew walks to get on-base in the 3rd before Michael Baker jumped on a 3-2 fastball and deposited it in the LF bleachers. 3-run dinger and Cairns jumped out to a 4-1 lead.

Kent Wells struck out his fifth and sixth in the 4th and his seventh in the 5th. Mario Correa extended the Crocs’ lead with a 2-out RBI-single in the bottom of the 5th, a hit that ended Karl Blackwell’s night (4.2IP, 5H, 5ER, 4BB, 5K). Wells (5.2IP, 5H, 1ER, 1BB, 7K) exited during the 6th.

The Crocs moved further ahead in the 6th, de la Cruz and Beau Snell both with RBI-singles. Aitken’s 1-out walk then loaded the bases but Cairns’ could only make it count for 1 run via a Baker sac-fly. 8-1 Crocs after 6.

Taniguchi doubled Jose Villegas home in the 7th to edge the Aces a run closer and also leave Taniguchi needing only a HR to hit for the cycle. Sadly, he came from the game in the bottom of the inning after chasing down a fly ball in CF. No word was immediately forthcoming on his injury.

Pedro Mercado bashed a 2-run jack in the 8th to make it a 4-run game. Aaron Fingleson, who’d given up 13 regular season losses to go with his 34 saves, came out for the 9th and gave up a single to the first hitter he faced, Luis Cuesta. He settled down after that, retiring the next 3 to see Cairns to a cruizy 8-4 victory.

Chi-seong Lee went 2-2 with a walk and a HBP to maintain a perfect 2063 playoff average after Game 1. The Aces outhit the Crocs 9-8 but were undone by poor pitching discipline, the 4 pitchers they used giving up 7 walks. March sensation Felino Saturno (5HR from 9 hits for a .360 BA) was 0-4 with 2 strikeouts.

Game 2 - Brisbane Bandits vs Darwin Diggers

Brisbane grabbed the lead in the top of the 1st, Domenic Cook singling home Larry Booth. Tashiaki Yano extended the inning with a cracking double to left, bringing Russell Smith to the plate. He swung at the first pitch he faced, a high fastball, and popped up towards 1B. The ball twisted and turned towards the foul line, out of everybody’s reach, eventually dropping in fair ground in RF. Cook and Yano both scored and Brisbane jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Matt Mulholland needed only 6 pitches to get through the bottom of the inning and 12 pitches to complete the 2nd.

There was no more scoring through 5, baserunners hard to come by. A sac-fly scored Lecomte in the bottom of the 6th to put Darwin on the board. Darwin starter Allan Tipping recovered from his rocky 1st to still be on the mound come the beginning of the 9th but gave up a single and a double to the first 2 hitters he faced. He stayed up to intentionally walk Smith before being replaced by Martin Silva. Glen Casey singled to right, scoring 1. Sam Richards’ weak grounder towards 2B resulted in the runner being thrown at home. Brendon Marris flied out to shallow left, Smith holding up at 3B. Booth walked in a run before Arturo Medina was called out on strikes to end the inning.

Steedman trotted out for the bottom of the inning and rattled through ‘em on 8 pitches, striking out Kent Okolita to end the game. Final score: 5-1 Brisbane, the series levelled.

Tipping (8.0IP, 9H, 5ER, 1BB, 6K) had recovered well before the poor 9th, while Mulholland (8.0IP, 5H, 1ER, 1BB, 2K) threw a smart game. Cook went 3-4 with 2 runs.

Game 2 - Melbourne Aces vs Cairns Crocs

Cuesta crunched a belt-high fastball into the LF bleachers in the 3rd to begin the scoring. 1-0 Melbourne. 2 outs later, with a runner aboard, Glen Walsh lined one into the RF seats to make it 3-nothing. Correa singled home Cairns’ opening run in the bottom of the inning.

Victor Doubleday was leaving them up in the zone and getting tagged, Villegas going solo in the 4th to push Melbourne’s lead back out to 3. Jarod Boxsell doubled home Lee in the bottom of the 4th to make it 4-2.

A frustrated Doubleday (5.0IP, 5H, 4ER, 1BB, 7K) hit Vern Bull with the 9th pitch of the at-bat in the 6th, and was quickly led to the dugout. The next 2 hitters both found their way aboard to see the bases loaded with nobody out. Villegas’ soft grounder was pounced on by Correa, who got the out at home. Baker then rifled it to 1B to complete the double-play. Cuesta was the final out of the inning, thrown out at 1B in a tight call.

Ethan Humphries (6.0IP, 8H, 2ER, 1BB, 5K) was relieved after 6, 23 y/o reliever Rick Jeffreys showing guile to ease through the inning.

A throwing error by Lee in the 8th saw a runner score, giving Melbourne a 3-run advantage. The score was still the same in the middle of the 9th, southpaw closer Oliwa Lomu heading out for his first-ever postseason appearance. Pullenza said g’day by hammering a 2-1 curveball 430 feet over left-centre. 5-3 Cairns. Lee ground out 5-3 and Boxsell flied out to left. De la Cruz walked on 4 pitches to keep hope alive for the home team. Saturno strode to the plate as a pinch-hitter and singled up the middle. Aitken cracked a single to left, scoring de la Cruz. 1-run game. Lomu was replaced by Dan Holz, another leftie. In a surprising move, Correa was subbed out for Alan Willey, who blooped out to left to end it. Final score: 5-4 Cairns, in a tense finish.

First year Cairns’ skipper Raul Guerra explained the Correa substitution in the aftermatch presser, saying, “Mario’s struggled against left-handed pitching this season. In fact, his career splits show he’s much better against righties.” That did not appease the fans.

Game 3 - Brisbane Bandits vs Darwin Diggers

Okolita gave Darwin the early lead with a 2-out RBI-single in the top of the 1st. Anderton kept the inning alive with a double down the 1B line before Dustin Bacon pulled a fastball over the RF fence. 4-0 Darwin.

Brisbane got on the board in the 2nd, Glen Casey punching an RBI-single to left. 4-1 Darwin. Blume then made it a 2-run game with a solo HR over left in the 3rd.

Anderton and Bacon led off the 4th with back-to-back doubles, the latter of the RBI variety and enough to end Nelson Thurgood’s night (3.0IP, 7H, 5ER, 0BB, 0K). Casey doubled home another run in the bottom of the inning to cut the deficit back to 2.

The gap was almost immediately back to 3, Rivera leading off the 5th with a solo HR over right, the fly having just enough legs to evade a wall-climbing Booth. Blume went yard for the second time in the game in the bottom of the inning, plucking off a middle-of-the plate curveball. 6-4 Darwin.

42 y/o Jayden Pye became the oldest player to hit an AUNZBL postseason HR in the 6th, his fly over straightaway centre traveling 433 feet, scoring himself and Fenton, who’d lobbed a triple into the RF corner. Pye came up again in the 7th with the bases loaded and 2 away and his pop-fly to left found grass, scoring 2 more. 10-4 Darwin, the game theirs to lose.

Willie Russell (7.0IP, 8H, 4R, 3ER, 1BB, 0K) was subbed out after 7, his outing not great but certainly more than adequate given his run support.

The Bandits couldn’t conjure a miracle, the final score 10-4 Darwin, pushing them to within 1 game of the Preliminary Finals.

Game 3 - Melbourne Aces vs Cairns Crocs

Umashankar Meenakshi would start against the team that traded him midseason. Meenakshi had struggled somewhat since moving to the Aces.

He got into trouble early, Baker’s (who had been the player the Crocs traded Meenakshi for) 1-out single up the middle scoring the game’s opening run. Correa singled another runner home and an out later Lee blooped a single to left, plating another. Meenakshi walked Ernan Pullenza to load the bases but recovered to strike out Boxsell, thus ending the inning. 3-0 Crocs. Meenakshi threw 36 pitches in that opening frame.

A 2nd-inning sac-fly put Melbourne on the board. Meenakshi had recovered to have 6 strikeouts after 3 innings.

In the 4th, Boxsell got plunked, stole 2B, and scored off de la Cruz’a single to CF. 4-1 Cairns. Nalukea Alana (5.1IP, 4H, 1ER, 4BB, 4K) came off in the 6th after allowing a walk and hitting a batter. Meenakshi (6.0IP, 8H, 4ER, 2BB, 8K) sat down after 7, having been a real mixed bag.

An error plus 2 singles helped Cairns load the bases in the 7th before an out had been recorded. Saturno’s groundball to 3B was fired home in time to get the lead runner but the throw to 1B was too slow to turn the double-play. Lee’s deep fly-out to CF was only worth 1 run, Correa also staying put at 2B. Pullenza ground out 1-3, the inning’s damage limited to 1 run.

Aitken doubled over the glove of the CF in the 8th, scoring both men aboard. 7-1 Crocs. He then left the field holding his hand. Sore thumb from a collision with the base when diving, nothing more, the medical team quickly assured all and sundry.

Claudio Banda (3.2IP, 0H, 0ER, 1BB, 1K) had replaced Alana in the 6th and remained on the mound for the 9th, scything through the Aces to earn an ‘Iron Man’ save. Final score: 7-1 Cairns. Correa was 4-5, 3 of those hits, including a double, coming off southpaw Meenakshi.

Game 4 - Brisbane Bandits vs Darwin Diggers

Darwin drew first blood, Lecomte scoring off Rivera’s shallow double - the outfield playing him deep - in the top of the 1st. A batter later, Anderton’s ground-out up the middle was deep enough to score Rivera from 3B. 2-0 Diggers, the inning only ended by a spectacular diving catch by SS Brendon Marris.

Lecomte pulled off an even better catch to record the first out in the bottom of the inning, the commentary team joking that they might need to put together some scoring cards they could hold up in the window next time a diving catch was made.

Brisbane filled the bases in the bottom of the 2nd with 1 away. Glen Casey’s hard groundball wide of 1B was knocked down by Anderton, who got the throw away to Pond, covering, in time for the out. Still, a runner scored, and both the other runners advanced a base. Marris flied out to left to end the inning, the score now 2-1 Diggers.

Cook tied the game in the 4th with a leadoff solo HR over right-centre. Pond couldn’t have done any better with his fastball, it hitting the bottom corner of the plate, nudging 155 km/h. But Cook’s wrists were quick and his swing exquisite. The ball landed 439 feet away from home-plate. Pond seemed rattled by the blast, leaving the ball up in the zone to the next 2 hitters, Yano and Smith, who both doubled, giving Brisbane the lead. Sam Richards then blasted a belt-high fastball over right and into the bleachers. 5-2 Brisbane, Pond looking shell-shocked. He got out of the inning without further damage.

Pye smoked his second HR of the series to lead off the 5th, drilling it way over the CF fence and into a party pool set up for the occasion. 2-run game.

With 2 outs in the bottom of the 5th, Pond allowed a walk before Smith crushed a fastball into the LF bleachers. 7-3 Brisbane, and Pond (4.2IP, 8H, 7ER, 2BB, 3K) was finally pulled from the mound. Sosa singled Okolita home in the 6th, and Fenton sac-flied in another run. That ended Blake’s night (5.2IP, 7H, 5ER, 3BB, 2K), the inning finishing with the score 7-5 in Brisbane’s favour.

Light-hitting Larry Booth got in on the homerun action, his shot over right in the bottom of the 6th worth 2 runs. Lecomte led off the 7th with a triple, Boston singling him home. The deficit was still 3 in the top of the 9th, so Steedman came to the mound, blowing on his hands. Rivera flied out to centre. Okolita was thrown out at 1B by the catcher. Anderton got frozen up by a big slider to end the game. Final score: 9-6 Brisbane, the series tied at 2.

Game 4 - Melbourne Aces vs Cairns Crocs

Taniguchi’s injury diagnosis finally came in. He had a torn labrum and wouldn’t likely be back until early next season.

Saturno, included in the Cairns’ postseason squad despite just 27 big-league PA, and given the job of starting against LHP, had been struggling before now, 1-10, his only hit a pinch-hit in Game 2. But he ramped up the excitement factor in the top of the 2nd, dismissing the first pitch he faced over the left-centre fence. With a runner already aboard, he gave the Crocs a quick 2-0 advantage.

24 y/o Marty Downes, called into the playoff squad to cover Taniguchi’s injury, got the start and doubled in his second at-bat, driving home Melbourne’s first run. 2-1 Cairns.

Bull recorded his first hit of the series in the 4th, a single to accompany 3 walks and a HBP. He then advanced from 1B to 3B on Caspar Purcell’s single, giving the Aces the chance to tie the game. Villegas flied out to the warning track in right, and Bull tagged up and jogged home without a throw.

Saturno brought the excitement again in the 6th, tagging a Blackwell curveball and sending it into the left-centre seats. Once again, Correa was on-base and Cairns had restored their advantage. It grew to 3 runs later in the inning, Boxsell singling Pullenza home and sending Blackwell (5.2IP, 9H, 5ER, 2BB, 3K) to the showers.

Bull got his second hit of the series in the bottom of the 6th, this one worth four bases. 5-3 Cairns. Wells (5.1IP, 7H, 3ER, 0BB, 4K) was subbed, replaced by Banda, who was yet to give up a run in 5.2 postseason innings. He struck out Purcell and Villegas to end the inning.

Mercado led off the 8th with a homerun down the RF line, pushing Banda’s ERA from 0.00 to 1.23. An out later, Josh Duggan now on the mound, Glen Walsh walked to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. Bull also walked but Purcell could only ground into a 6-4-3 double-play.

Fingleson took the mound for the bottom of the 9th, protecting a 1-run lead, the series on the line for the Aces. Villegas walked and was bunted to 2B. Noel Dickson popped out to the catcher. Brendan Bartholomew hit a regulation groundball to SS. The throw to 1B was in the dirt but Aitken showcased his defensive skills, reaching and snatching it up in time. Final score: 5-4 Cairns, and the Crocs were off to the Preliminary Finals.

Correa (.563/.588/.750, 0HR) took out Series MVP.

Game 5 - Brisbane Bandits vs Darwin Diggers

A 1-out Booth triple in the 3rd turned into the opening run an out later thanks to Blume’s lob single to right. 1-0 Brisbane.

Darwin equalized in the bottom of the inning, Pye diving home under the tag after Boston flied out to right. An out later they went ahead thanks to Rivera’s single up the middle. 2-1 Diggers.

In the 4th, Bacon roasted a 9th-pitch fastball over right and into the back of the lower level pews. 3-1 Darwin. Mulholland gave up a pair of 2-out walks in the same inning, after which Lecomte singled to right, extending the lead to 3. Boston’s single up the middle made it 5-1 and saw Mulholland (3.2IP, 5H, 5ER, 3BB, 1K) come from the game. All of his hits and walks came after the 2nd inning.

Cook batted in Booth in the 5th to cut the deficit to 3. Tipping (5.0IP, 8H, 2ER, 0BB, 3K) retired after 5, replaced by regular season starter Willem Throsby, who got through the inning on 10 pitches. He needed only 6 to complete the 7th, the Bandits’ offense lacking any punch.

The Diggers added another in the bottom of the 7th, Rivera plating Boston. Blume launched a belt-high change-up over the CF fence to begin the 8th and give his team some hope. That was all they could manage in the inning, however, finishing the frame 3 in arrears.

Fenton restored the 4-run buffer with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning. Rod Bacon came out for the 9th, the Diggers determined to make sure of the win. Casey swung through a giant curve that disappeared out of the zone for the first out. Richards grounded out sharply to 2B. Marris went down 6-3 and Darwin were off to the Preliminary Finals.

Final score: 7-3 Darwin, Brisbane brave but found lacking when it came to the final push. Fenton (.353/.400/.824, 2HR) earned Series’ MVP. Brisbane’s Domenic Cook (.467/.600/.667, 1HR) had the best BA of either team.
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Old 11-25-2017, 09:04 PM   #735
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2063 Preliminary Finals

2063 Preliminary Finals

Game 1 - Darwin Diggers vs Adelaide Venom

Quentin Welch returned from injury, having last played on the 1st of December, and slotted straight into RF for the Venom. In a surprise to many, Norm Donaldson won the starting catching role over Li Hayes. Darwin started the series with only 22 players, and only 1 substitute bat.

The game remained a tie until the bottom of the 3rd when Carlos Acevedo led off with a solo jack over left-centre, the wind helping the ball over the line. The bottom of the 4th ended with a piece of defensive brilliance by Diggers’ 1B Anderton. He dived to catch a cracking line-drive by Welch and then made another lunge to tag the retreating runner for an U3 double-play.

2B Rivera and 3B Sosa both made diving catches of their own in the 6th to deny Adelaide baserunners. Sadly, they couldn’t translate their defensive prowess to offensive success, leaving Boston stranded at 2B in the 6th, his double only their third hit of the night.

Willie Russell (5.1IP, 6H, 1ER, 3BB, 2K) left in the 6th. Leading off the 7th, Anderton hammered one down the RF line and into the seats to tie the game up. Bacon followed with a double and 2 outs later Pye singled him home to put Darwin ahead for the first time. Wigley (6.2IP, 6H, 2ER, 2BB, 6K) was pulled, shaking his head as he walked off.

The lead didn’t stay with Darwin for long. In the bottom of the inning with runners at 2B and 3B with 2 out, Tomas Zartuche singled to left, scoring both runners. 3-2 Adelaide.

Mid-season acquisition Moeaktola Liao trotted to the mound for the top of the 9th. He was 39 from 40 in regular season save opportunities. Sosa punished one to right but Welch tracked it back and caught it. Fenton struck out swinging and Pye was frozen up on 0-2 by a big slider. Final score: 3-2 Adelaide. Zartuche, Malcolm Pickhills and Acevedo each had 2 hits for the Venom, with only Gary Young and Donaldson going hitless.

Game 1 - Cairns Crocs vs Christchurch Cowboys

Claudio Lara returned from his sprained ankle, relegating Pullenza, whose 4 hits in the Division Finals had all been for extra-bases, to the bench.

Doubleday found himself quickly behind. He hit leadoff batter Jesus Vega to begin the bottom of the 1st and an out later Beau Hauer launched a 2-run dinger over right-centre. Cairns put runners at 2B and 3B with no outs in the 3rd but left them stranded, Ted Heathcote upping the guile to get the 3 outs needed on only 9 pitches.

Back-to-back 2-out doubles to Vega and Rowan Kimpton in the bottom of the 5th saw Christchurch extend their lead to 3. Doubleday had only conceded 4 hits while striking out 7 but was looking down the barrel at a loss.

Christchurch loaded the bases with 2 away in the 6th but weren’t able to add to the scorecard. That was Doubleday’s last action of the game, his 6 innings going for 5 hits, 3 walks, 3 earned runs and 7 punch-outs. Heathcote (7.0IP, 6H, 0ER, 2BB, 3K) was replaced for the 8th, Christchurch also making defensive substitutions at CF and catcher.

Boxsell hit a 1-out triple over the CF’s head in the 8th. De la Cruz walked on 4 pitches. Snell hit a soft single to right-centre, scoring Boxsell and moving de la Cruz to 3B. 3-1 Christchurch. Aitken’s bloop to left was caught in a great tumbling effort by Kelvin Pickills, who wasn’t able to deter de la Cruz from tagging up and heading home. 3-2 Christchurch. And then, in a demonstration of how fickle the baseball gods can be, Correa cracked a 2-run homerun over left to give Cairns the lead for the first time in the match.

Pickhills and Matthew Utting both drew walks in the bottom of the inning to put the go-ahead run at 1B with 1 out but Reginald Sorenson could only ground into a 6-4-3 double-play to end the threat. Cairns added some insurance in the top of the 9th, de la Cruz driving a runner home. The lead became 3 when Boxsell scored off a wild pitch, the Cowboys' fans howling in frustration.

Fingleson took the mound for the bottom of the inning and immediately gave up a homerun to Bryan McMullen. Defensive sub Jayden Roneberg flied out to centre and Vega ground out to 3B. Kade Wurfel hit a regulation fly to right and that was all she wrote. Final score: 6-4 Crocs in a late-inning comeback. The Crocs comprehensively outhit the Cowboys 12-6, 5 players with 2 or more hits. They also hit into 4 double-plays.

Game 2 - Darwin Diggers vs Adelaide Venom

Darwin opened the scoring in the top of the 1st before an out had been made, Rivera’s infield single scoring Lecomte. That seemed to wake Apaghana Potluri, who struck out the next 2 and ended the inning with a fly out to right. 1-0 Darwin.

Potluri found himself in trouble again in the 2nd, Sosa singling and Fenton walking to put runners on 1B and 2B without any out. Potluri struck out the next 2 before Boston singled up the middle, Benbow playing it too aggressively for Sosa to try for home. Bases drunk, 2 away. First pitch to Rivera was up in the zone and he turned on it, sending it 391 feet over right for a Grand Slam! 5-0 Darwin, 22 y/o Potluri giving himself a vicious talking to while pacing the mound. Okolita and Anderton singled before Bacon walked and the bases were once again full. This time Sosa’s groundball resulted in him being thrown out at 1B and the inning was over.

Gary Young immediately got 1 back for Adelaide in the bottom of the inning, going yard over left.

Potluri (3.1IP, 8H, 5ER, 4BB, 5K) stayed in for the 3rd but was subbed after 1 out in the 4th when he surrendered his 4th walk of the night.

An error by reliever Bruno Budd with 2 outs in the 6th allowed another Darwin run. 6-1 Diggers. A 2-out Pickhills’ double in the bottom of the inning scored Mitch Goddard to restore the deficit to 4.

The Diggers loaded the bases for the third time of the game in the 6th, this time with nobody out. Boston somehow threaded a single between 3B Pickhills and SS Acevedo, scoring 2, Boston and Lecomte advancing a base on the throw home. Rivera sac-flied Lecomte home and that was the extent of the scoring for the inning, Welch ending it with a fine running catch off a hard-hit Anderton line drive. 9-2 Diggers.

Pond (6.0IP, 6H, 2ER, 1BB, 2K) took a seat for the 7th, cutting a jovial figure in the dugout.

2 wild pitches in the 9th allowed Adelaide to score a consolation run but that was all they could muster. Final score: 9-3 Darwin in a comprehensive performance. Raymond Eykelbosch threw 3 innings for the save, while Boston went 4-6. Rivera’s 2-5 was worth 6 runs batted in.

Game 2 - Cairns Crocs vs Christchurch Cowboys

Christchurch gave the scorers some action in the bottom of the 2nd, McMullen’s pop-fly into CF finding grass and scoring the runner at 3B.

Vega reached via error in the 3rd before Kimpton launched a bell-ringer over CF and into the bullpen. 2-run homer, the Cowboys now leading 3-0. Dan Pankhurst was perfect through 3.2 but then gave up a double to Aitken and a single to Correa, Aitken diving home safe to make the score 3-1.

Lee made it a 1-run game in the 5th, his shot over leftfield with just enough legs to make it past the despairing jump of Kelvin Pickhills. Boxsell then tied the game up with a solo HR of his own, his in no doubt whatsoever after it left the bat. Snell and Correa combined to give Cairns the lead in the 6th, Snell singling and Correa doubling him home. 4-3 Crocs.

A tiring Alana gave up a single and hit a batter in the bottom of the inning. Sorensen then doubled over left to bring home the tying run. An error by Aitken on a routine groundball allowed McMullen aboard, the runner at 3B also scoring (he would have anyway, having run with the contact). Alana came from the mound. Corless singled a runner home and the inning ended with the score 6-4 in Christchurch’s favour. Alana (5.0IP, 7H, 6R, 5ER, 2BB, 1K) disappeared down the tunnel to the dressing room, clearly unhappy.

Pickhills doubled home a run in the 7th and then was assisted from the field. Utting was walked to load the bases with nobody out. Sorensen hit a sac-fly to the warning track, as did McMullen. 9-4 Cowboys and they’d taken command of the game in the last 2 innings.

Cairns loaded the bases in the 8th, hoping to mount a fast and furious comeback. And Lara got them within 1, launching a Grand Slam over left! Lee followed that up with a triple into the LF corner, Utting remonstrating with the umpire for some time after the safe call was made. An out later, RF McMullen robbed the Crocs of a game-tying hit with a spectacular running, over-the-shoulder catch to dismiss de la Cruz.

Christchurch extended their lead again in the bottom of the inning, though Fookes looked to have injured himself diving home to be the third run scored in the inning.

The Cowboys had a 4-run buffer going into the top of the 9th and didn’t use any of them, easing to a 12-8 victory.

Off Day

Fookes was diagnosed with a tight groin. He’d be day-to-day for the better part of a week. The extent of Kelvin Pickhills’ injury was yet to be determined.

Game 3 - Darwin Diggers vs Adelaide Venom

Cain Whalley returned for Darwin, having not played since the beginning of March thanks to knee tendinitis.

Welch doubled home Young all the way from 1B in the top of the 2nd to get the scoring underway. After doubling in the 3rd, Acevedo nicked 3B and then scored off a Moore sac-fly (almost unnoticed was Boston’s great sliding catch to get the out). 2-0 Adelaide.

The strong wind blowing in from right kept Welch’s booming 4th-inning line-drive in the yard, he ending up with a 2-out double instead. The next batter struck out leave him stranded.

Acevedo sac-flied home another run in the 5th, the only damage in an inning that might’ve been a lot worse had Rivera not made an excellent lunging catch to snare the final out. 3-0 Adelaide, the Darwin offense currently dormant with only 2 hits thus far.

Tipping (5.0IP, 9H, 3ER, 0BB, 5K) was replaced after 5 by Dylan Durrington, who struck out the side. Durrington didn’t fare so well in the 7th, Zartuche singling with 1 out, then stealing 2B and 3B before scoring off Moore’s 2-out double into the RF corner. 4-0 Venom.

Nick Aston was still going strong in the 8th, getting through the inning without any damage despite giving up 2 base hits.

Zartuche doubled to open the top of the 9th and then stole 3B but injured himself in the process and left the game. Acevedo followed up with a triple and Adelaide had a 5-run advantage. It became 6 with Moore’s single.

Aston came out for the 9th looking at the prospect of a postseason shutout. That bubble was quickly burst, Okolita leading off the inning with a HR over left. Aston (8.0IP, 7H, 1ER, 2BB, 6K) was replaced, though he still had a smile on his face as he strolled to the dugout.

That was all the aggression the Diggers could muster, Adelaide easing to a 6-1 win. Acevedo went 3-4 with a double and triple.

Game 3 - Cairns Crocs vs Christchurch Cowboys

Kelvin Pickhills was gone for the postseason with a hip strain.

The scoring began in the bottom of the 3rd when Lee bashed a belt-high cutter over the left-centre fence for a 2-run homer. 2-0 Cairns.

Wes Corless opened the 3rd with a triple into the left-centre alley and scored off Bernie Sneddon’s sac-fly. The Cowboys tied the game in the 4th thanks to a Matthew Utting solo bomb over centrefield.

Lee was seeing it like a beach ball, pounding a 2-out triple in the bottom of the 4th to score Lara, who’d walked earlier. 3-2 Cairns after 4.

Correa extended the Crocs’ lead in the 5th with a typically powerful line-drive into the CF bleachers, scoring 2. Rodriguez joined the party in the 6th, pulling a solo HR over right to end Pedro Montanez’s night (5.0IP, 7H, 6ER, 2BB, 4K). The hurt continued, Lara and Lee singling and Lara scoring off a wild pitch. Boxsell then walked and Cairns were set up for a monster inning with runners on 1B and 2B with nobody out, 2 runs already scored and the top of the lineup coming up. De la Cruz took one to the side on the 7th pitch of his at-bat and the bases were full. Snell singled to right, scoring Lee and Boxsell. Aitken walked on 4 pitches. Correa’s groundball into the hole between 3B and short was nicely stopped by a diving Vega but his throw to 1B was late. Infield RBI-single. Baker, who’d struggled so far in the series, got a 1-0 sinker right in the middle of the plate and he cashed in big-time, lofting it just far enough over left to be worth 4 bases and 4 runs. Grand Slam! 9 runs so far in the inning and no outs yet recorded.

Lance Ralston came in to mop up and got the 3 outs required without looking troubled. 14-2 Cairns after 7, and this thing was a rout.

That proved to be all the excitement in the game, the fans in raucous voice as Cairns finished off a 14-2 win. Wells threw 8.1 innings for 8 hits, 2 earned runs, 0 walks and 3 strikeouts. Cairns were remarkably good at converting their baserunners into runs, their 14 runs coming from 13 hits and 4 walks. Lee went 3-4 with a homerun, triple, single and strikeout. Correa’s 2-5 meant he was hitting .533 across the postseason.

Game 4 - Darwin Diggers vs Adelaide Venom

With 2 out, Moore and Young combined in the top of the 1st to score the game’s opening run, Moore scoring all the way from 1B. 1-0 Venom.

Lecomte, Boston and Rivera each singled to begin the bottom of the inning, giving Darwin a golden opportunity not just to strike back but to forge a lead. And that’s just what they did, Okolita crushing a 2-2 slider 443 feet over right-centre for a Grand Slam! 20-game winner Wigley watched it go with a neutral expression, the Diggers’ home crowd roaring with delight.

They were howling even louder 2 pitches later when Anderton went opposite field down the LF line, his fly staying fair and flying far enough to be worth maximum bases. 5-1 Darwin and Wigley was yet to get an out. He struck out the next and yelled into his glove but the relief was short-lived, Sosa and Fenton doubling over the heads of CF and LF respectively to add another to the scorecard. Pye ground-out 4-3 and Darwin had batted around. Lecomte also ground out 4-3 in a tight call and the inning was finally over, Wigley fair staggering from the mound. 6-1 Diggers.

Wigley remained pitching and looked much more his usual self in the 2nd and 3rd. He didn’t come out for the 4th, however, his game stats 3.0IP, 9H, 6ER, 1BB, 3K. He’d thrown just 66 pitches.

Adelaide got 1 back in the 5th, Moore’s deep ground-out behind the bag at 2B scoring Murphy from 3B. Darwin responded with 2 runs in the bottom of the inning, both scoring courtesy of a Boston double. 8-2 Diggers.

Russell (7.0IP, 7H, 2ER, 1BB, 2K) got through 7, 61 of his 84 pitches strikes. A frustrated Moore got called out on strikes in the 8th and didn’t take kindly to it, arguing with the umpire before getting ejected, his manager not able to get out there in time. Replays showed the pitch was perfect, nicking the outside bottom corner.

It became 9-1 in the bottom of the 8th, Okolita driving Lecomte home. Anderton followed up with a single and Darwin had populated all the bases, this time with 1 out. Bacon sac-flied a runner home before Sosa singled to fill the bases up again. Pinch-hitter Cain Whalley ground out up the middle to end the inning.

Adelaide couldn’t manufacture a comeback in the 9th and this one ended with Darwin convincing 10-2 winners. Boston, Okolita and Fenton each put up 3 hits, the Diggers hitting safely 17 times in all. The series was now tied at 2, the Venom looking suspect on the mound.

Game 4 - Cairns Crocs vs Christchurch Cowboys

A rally in the top of the 2nd saw Christchurch score 2 before an out had been recorded. Another run was sac-flied home to give the Cowboys a 3-run advantage.

Sneddon doubled home Corless in the 5th before being doubled home by Vega. Christchurch played the rest of the inning aggressively on the basepaths, scoring another to finish the inning with their lead doubled.

Heathcote had only allowed 3 hits and 2 walks after 5, his counterpart, Doubleday (4.0IP, 6H, 6ER, 2BB, 2K) already back in the sheds.

Corless hit his second triple of the series in the 6th, 2 outs already recorded, and then Sneddon, only playing thanks to Pickhills’ injury, had his third hit of the night, this one a 2-run homer over right-centre. 8-0 Cowboys.

Heathcote (5.0IP, 4H, 0ER, 2BB, 1K) took a seat after conceding a single to begin the 5th, his relief getting through the rest of the inning without damage. Heathcote had thrown 12 innings this postseason without conceding a run.

Lara finally got Cairns on the board in the 7th with a solo HR over left. A pair of infield hits helped Christchurch jam the bases in 8th with 2 away but they couldn’t add to their lead. Utting singled home another run in the 9th, the Cowboys going into the bottom of the inning with an 8-run buffer.

Cairns didn’t go with a whimper, rallying with 2 outs to score 3 but it was a case of too little far too late. Final score: 9-4 Cowboys, to send this one to a Game 5 back in Christchurch. Sneddon was 4-4 with 2 runs and 3RBI to deservedly take out PotG.

Off Day

Tomas Zartuche had a strained PCL which would keep him out of the rest of the postseason.

Cairns announced that 26 y/o SP Nalukea Alana (18-8, 3.69 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 1.40 WHIP), their most likely starter for Game 5, had agreed to a 4-year buyout of his remaining arbitration years.

Game 5 - Darwin Diggers vs Adelaide Venom

Lecomte hit Potluri’s first pitch of the game into RF for a double. Very next pitch, Acevedo flubbed a regulation grounder at SS, putting runners on the corners. Rivera then tripled into the LF alley, scoring both runners. Potluri had only thrown 3 pitches and was already down 2-0 with a runner on 3B. His pitching coach came out for a chat, hand reassuringly on the youngster’s shoulder.

Potluri got the count to 2-1 before Okolita hit a fly deep to right. Welch made good ground to take a running catch. Rivera jogged home but Potluri looked mighty relieved. Anderton then drilled one back toward Potluri, who showed great reactions to pluck it out of the air. Bacon ground out 3-1 in what replay’s showed was a hometown call and Potluri raced to the dugout. 3-0 Darwin after half an inning.

Potluri was much more relaxed in the 2nd, retiring them in order. He showed he did have some mettle in the 3rd, recovering from having runners on 2B and 3B with 1 out to strike out Okolita and Anderton to get out of the jam.

Adelaide got their first baserunner in the bottom of the 3rd, Benbow drawing a 2-out walk, Pond until this point looking completely at ease. Moore singled past a diving first-baseman in the 4th to register Adelaide’s first hit and Young followed up by bouncing a single between 3B and short. Pickhills then launched a chest-high fastball deep over right-centre and into the stands to tie the game up in a flash of willow.

Potluri gave up a 2-out walk and single in the 5th and was removed from the game, reliever Nicholas Buffey walking his first hitter to juice the bases. Anderton ground out up the middle and the game remained tied. As in his last outing, Potluri (4.2IP, 4H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, 5K) was either strike ‘em out or get struck.

Darwin moved back in front in the 6th, Whalley’s 1-out single scoring the runner from 2B. Lecomte then drew a walk to load the bases and Boston’s weak ground-out scored another. Rivera got his fourth hit of the night to see another run come home. Okolita walked and the bases were again full. Anderton ground out again to end it. 6-3 Darwin.

In the bottom of the inning Moore walked and Young got to touch them all thanks to a monster fly over left-centre that landed in the upper deck. Pickhills drilled a 162 km/h 1-2 fastball down the LF line and everybody held their breath. The ball curled left at the last moment to go foul. The next pitch was a slider that Pickhills swung right through. Despite a Donaldson single and Welch double the inning ended with the Diggers clinging onto a 1-run lead.

Bacon and Sosa began the 7th with doubles, pushing Darwin further ahead. Fenton was intentionally walked and Whalley not-so-intentionally walked and for the third time in the game the Diggers had burrowed their way to a loaded bases scenario, this time with zero outs. Lecomte doubled into the RF corner, scoring 2. Boston walked. Bases loaded again, still nobody retired. Rivera, with a chance at 5 hits, showed remarkable patience to draw a 5-pitch walk, not swinging his bat once. Another runner in and Darwin were charging away with it. Okolita struck out. Anderton didn’t squander this loaded-bases opportunity, doubling into left to plate 2 more. Bacon’s shallow ground-out scored another and then Sosa drilled one to straightaway centre. The wind carried it over the glove of the CF. 2-run homerun, the decent contingent of Diggers’ fans in enormous voice. Fenton ground out and the inning was over. 9 runs scored, Darwin now 15-5 in front and Adelaide facing the prospect of not being in the Championship Series for the first time in 5 years.

Pond (6.0IP, 6H, 5ER, 2BB, 6K) was replaced for the 7th. The Diggers added another in the 8th, the Venom going into the bottom of the 9th needing 11 to tie, 12 to win. They retired in order and the Diggers had knocked off the mighty Venom with a 16-5 thrashing.

Rivera (.435/.440/.696, 1HR), who went 4-5 with 4RBI in Game 5, won Series’ MVP.

Adelaide had been let down by their pitching, and certainly missed their ace, Greg Ahern.

Whatever happened in the rest of the postseason, one thing was for certain: there would be a new champion crowned in 2063!

Game 5 - Cairns Crocs vs Christchurch Cowboys

Christchurch drew first blood in the bottom of the 2nd, Sorenson doubling Kimpton home. An out later Sneddon hit a slow-motion single past the defensively suspect Snell at 2B, scoring another runner. 2-0 Cowboys.

De la Cruz hit a 2-out RBI-double in the 3rd to make it a 1-run game. Hauer and Fookes doubled either side of LF de la Cruz to open proceedings in the bottom of the inning. Utting and Sorenson both walked an out later to load the bases but Corless grounded into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double-play. 3-1 Cowboys.

Hauer made it 4-1 in the 5th with a solo homerun over right, Alana having trouble keeping the ball down in the zone.

Things got testy in the 6th, Snell exchanging words with Pankhurst after getting hit by a pitch. He then stole 2B and said a few more things to the back of Pankhurst’s head. Aitken’s infield single put runners on the corners and Correa sac-flied Snell home. An out later Rodriguez singled Aitken home to cut the deficit to 1.

Alana (6.0IP, 10H, 4ER, 3BB, 1K) was replaced by Damian Flemming for the 7th, and Pankhurst (7.0IP, 6H, 3ER, 1BB, 4K) subbed out in the 8th.

Aitken singled with 1 away and Correa doubled, putting the tying run at 3B. Baker struck out to drop his average for the postseason to .152. Rodriguez ground out 4-3 and that’s how the score remained.

Scott Carson, Christchurch’s rookie reliever who found himself their closer at the tail-end of the season, came out for the 9th, the commentators drooling at the opportunity to see his giant curveball in action. Lara walked, as did Lee. Tying run in scoring position, nobody out. Boxsell bunted but Carson was onto it in a flash, throwing to 3B to get the force out. De la Cruz hit a groundball up the middle. Hauer pounced on it, turned it over to the SS, who in turn rifled it to 1B to get the game-ending double-play.

Final score 4-3 Christchurch, and the Cowboys would join the Diggers in a fresh-looking Championship Series.

Bernie Sneddon played 3 games in the series after Kelvin Pickhills’ injury, going 6-9, with a double, HR and 5RBI. He took out Series’ MVP honours.
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2063 Championship - Darwin Diggers vs Christchurch Cowboys

Preview - courtesy of The Professor and Friends - A Baseball Show

OotPB TV had greater plans for new employee Alan ‘The Professor’ Sneddon than colour commentary. No sooner had the regular season finished than OotPB TV announced that a new show with Sneddon as frontman would soon take to the nets. He would be joined each week by a different former major-league player, and the two would analyse and dissect the baseball happenings of the previous 7 days. The show debuted prior to the Championship Series.

The following are the thoughts of Alan Sneddon and Bernie Phillips, a former Cowboys’ pitcher and BL superstar, on this year’s Championship Series.

AS: Welcome everybody, to our brand new baseball show, The Professor and Friends. I’m excited, my guest Bernie Phillips is excited, or at least he says he is, so let’s get right into it. To begin with, let’s discuss the upcoming Championship and the playoffs to date. Bernie, any surprises this postseason so far?

BP: That’s a trick question, isn’t it, Prof? I mean, it’s all been surprises so far. Well, maybe not the Division Finals, they went as about expected, but the Preliminary Finals? Man, they were a ride and a half.

AS: *nodding* True that. To think that Adelaide won’t be in the Championship Series, despite yet again posting the best regular season record in the majors.

BP: I know one player isn’t the reason teams lose in the playoffs but the injury in March to Buzzard* was a killer blow. Yes, they had 20-game winner Ted Wigley, who had an FIP under 3.90, but Ahern is an ace and you need an ace for the pointy end of the season. Wigley, Potluri and Aston are all good pitchers, don’t get me wrong, but replace Potluri or Aston with Ahern and suddenly opposition hitters are a lot more fearful.

*Greg Ahern

AS: Their pitching definitely let them down, all right. But all credit to Darwin. Game 4 & 5 were reminiscent of something Adelaide would’ve done in the last 4 postseasons. Not just scrape past an opponent but utterly flatten them.

BP: Is it the end of an era?

AS: Maybe. I guess it has to end sometime. The core of Adelaide’s lineup is getting older, certainly, and their farm system is the worst in the bigs. Still, the only guy off contract is Tomas Zartuche, so if they can strengthen their pitching during the offseason and perhaps buy another good bat they’ll likely be a threat next campaign.

BP: You’re right, though, Darwin played their socks off and very much deserved their victory.

AS: They sure did. It’s funny, actually. I’ll be rooting for them, no doubt, but it’s weird to think that just last season I was wearing that uniform. Anyway, what did you make of the other series, Bernie?

BP: I thought Cairns should have won. Christchurch earned their bye but I felt the Crocs were the better team.

AS: Nonetheless, the Cowboys took it out.

BP: They certainly did, setting up one of the most interesting Championship Series for a good while.

AS: I know the Crocs and their fans will be disappointed because they all thought it was their year but general fandom is certainly more engaged. A brand new champion will be crowned, with one competitor looking for a maiden victory while the other hasn’t won since 2030.

BP: And there’s no clear-cut favourite either.

AS: Very true. So, why do you think the Diggers can win it?

BP: Their tenacity. Plus the fact they just knocked off the Goliath of the league with authority.

AS: Nothing statistical?

BP: Fifth-best BA, fourth-best OBP, fifth-most hits, second-least strikeouts. Pitching-wise, their bullpen was second-best in the majors, while they allowed the third-least homeruns and third-least walks. But nothing really jumps out.

AS: I’m concerned by their ability or, rather, inability to hit for extra bases. Their slugging percentage was in the bottom half of the league, as were their extra-base hits. And they only went yard 147 times, second-worst.

BP: That’s true. And they’ll be up against it facing the Cowboys, who had the best pitching unit in baseball, period, in 2063. They only allowed 125 dingers, and both their starters' ERA and bullpen ERA were better than anybody else’s.

AS: Still, their BA and OBP were tenth and twelfth, though they did hit 197 homers, fifth-most. If Darwin continues to hustle on the basepaths they’ll put this Christchurch unit under pressure. The Cowboys’ defensive efficiency was only sixth-best this season.

BP: *laughs* You’re conveniently forgetting that Darwin was ranked 12 out of 16 defensively.

AS: *laughs* Yes, I did seem to forget that. So, who are you picking?

BP: Weren’t we supposed to talk about individual players first?

AS: *laughs once more and shuffles paper around* Oh yeah. First show bumps, folks. But at least I’m getting the cues for commercials right and not continuing to talk when there’s no--

*cuts to commercial break*

AS: *large grin, looking from side to side* So, we’re back? I’m allowed to open my yapper again.

BP: *barks like a small dog*

AS: *joins in. After a few seconds:* Ah, there’s a lot of angry words coming through my earpiece right now so we better get back to it. Bernie, Darwin players to watch?

BP: Lecomte. He doesn’t hit for power and he walks less than you’d like your leadoff hitter to, but whenever he’s on base things happen. He’ll try to get a good lead even if he’s not thinking of stealing, he’ll always try to go from 1B to 3B on a single, he’ll slide hard and otherwise be a pain in the posterior. Boston, too. His season was a bit derailed by injury but it’s just phenomenal how he’s now 35 and still swinging the bat like he’s 25.

AS: David Anderton’s an interesting one for me. They brought him over midseason with the sole purpose of lengthening their power stroke and he only hit .202 and finished the season leading the league in strikeouts. Still, he hit 33 homers across the year and he’s hit 3 already this postseason, along with 4 doubles.

BP: Yep, he certainly gives them more offensive threat and means Okolita should got more good looks.

AS: I’m also keeping a close eye on the guy they brought in to replace me, Jayden Pye. Well, I’d like to think my replacement was Martin Boston, but I’ve got to be a realist about this, don’t I? Now that Cain Whalley’s back Pye might not get a look in this series but what he’s done already this postseason is phenomenal. Sure, a .200 BA isn't ever great, but he’s got a .375 OBP and he’s slugging at .480. The 2 homeruns he’s hit were both big. And he’s 42 years old. Incredible.

BP: It’s amazing that he’s only played in 4 postseasons. And despite making his big-league debut in 2046 he still hasn’t cracked 2000 hits.

AS: It’d be a real story if he got a ring.

BP: He’s played for 11 of the 16 AUNZBL teams, including 3 stints with Perth. Definition of journeyman, right there.

AS: Christchurch players to keep an eye on?

BP: I love watching Kimpton hit. He’s got a swing that nobody else can imitate and he’s just continued to defy the critics.

AS: Beau Hauer’s a star too, isn’t he? Underrated, but a real all-round hitter.

BP: Utting’s had a whale of a Preliminary Finals, too. The last couple seasons he hasn’t been the hitter he used to be. It feels like his swing has lengthened just a bit and he’s having trouble putting the barrel of the bat on stuff he used to be able to work into the outfield no problem. However, he certainly wasn’t having any issues against the Crocs and seemed to get better as the series went on.

AS: Funny, we haven’t mentioned any pitchers.

BP: Christchurch have a couple of old codgers on the mound, with Heathcote - 36 years-old - and Pankhurst - 38. But Heathcote didn’t give up a single run across 2 starts in the Preliminary Finals.

AS: They’re also rocking Ralston and Herbert in the bullpen, though I doubt we’ll see them too much. That kid they’ve got at closer, Scott Carson, he's someone who we’ll be hearing a lot about in years to come, won't we?

BP: Oh yes, that curveball. I start drooling just thinking about it.

AS: For the Diggers, Zachariah Pond was a mixed bag all season and during his 4 postseason starts so far but I think he’ll bring it during the Championship.

BP: Yeah, if he can paint the corners. He’s so reliant on his fastball now that he has to put it in the right places or he’ll get pegged.

AS: Right, so, now I’ll ask: who do you think will win it, Bernie?

BP: The Cowboys beat Darwin 9-3 in 12 regular season games and they’re definitely the better team if we’re looking solely at stats. They’re also the team of my heart but for some reason my gut is telling me the Diggers have the confidence and momentum to pull this off. I think they’ll need 7 games to do it, though.

AS:That's some good gut you've got going on. Yes, I think if Darwin can snag a game in the opening set in Christchurch they’ll be too good at home, despite the Cowboys being a better traveling team than home team in 2063. I think they do it in 5, or lose it in 7.

*cuts to commercial*

AS: Right, let’s take a look at what else is happening around the league. Bernie, what do you make of the Commissioner’s latest diatribe regarding the players who want the All Star format changed?


And that’s where we’ll leave it. For the record, the official OotPB TV pick was Christchurch in 6. The Diggers had no injury concerns and the Cowboys were missing only Kelvin Pickhills.

Game 1

Southpaw Allan Tipping (16-8, 3.66 ERA, 4.35 FIP, 1.23 WHIP) received Game 1 starting honours for Darwin. Tipping wasn’t a pitcher who’d blow batters away but rather a guy who relied on marking the corners and getting his pitches to duck and dive. He threw a fastball, curve and changeup, the latter his preferred strikeout pitch. Tipping’s postseason had been mixed to-date, his 1-2 record coming at a 5.00 ERA. He’d only managed 5 innings both of his last starts.

Pedro Montanez (18-10, 3.69 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 1.20 WHIP) was similar to Tipping in that he wasn’t an overpowering pitcher, though he threw from the right side of the mound. He had 4 pitches, relying primarily on his cutter, curve and slider. His changeup came out only occasionally. He’d been beaten up in his 1 postseason start in 2063, Cairns taking him for 6 runs in 5 innings.

The Diggers were still playing with a short bench, Pye and catcher Richard Page their only subs. In an unexplained move, Cowboys’ manager Marcus Kent opted for Kade Wurfel over Kimpton at catcher, despite Kimpton having much better results against LHP during the regular season.

Rain meant the roof was closed, as it had been for the 3 previous games in Christchurch this season.

First batter of the night, Lecomte, drove his 1-1 pitch into right for a single but Boston ground into a 6-4-3 double-play to empty the bases. Rivera snuck a groundball between 1B and 2B for a single but Montanez worked Okolita over nicely, freezing him up with that rarely seen changeup for strike 3.

Tipping fanned both Vega and McMullen before giving up a single to Hauer. Fooks popped out to 3B to end the bottom of the inning.

0-0 after 1.

Montanez retired the side in order in the 2nd and Tipping didn’t look in trouble either until Sorensen got a 1-1 fastball on the outside of the plate that he launched way back over left-centre. Early advantage Cowboys. 1-0 after 2.

Whalley doubled into left-centre with 1 out in the 3rd, taking on a slow-to-react Corless in CF to dive in safe. He took 3B on Lecomte’s ground-out but was left stranded when Boston got underneath one and popped out to short.

The first pitch of the bottom of the inning was a low, inside fastball. Bernie Sneddon somehow turned on it, sending it over RF and into the bleachers. Vega got himself a stand-up double with a fly to the bottom of the left-centre wall and coasted to 3B on McMullen’s sharp single to left. Hauer’s weak groundball towards 1B somehow eluded Anderton. Vega scored and McMullen beat the throw to 3B. Fookes was called out on strikes to be the inning’s first victim, and Wurfel quickly followed, also punched out, Tipping’s 5th victim of the game. Utting popped out to short. 3-0 Cowboys after 3.

Rivera led off the 4th with a single over the glove of 2B Hauer. A wild pitch enabled him to advance into scoring position and 2 pitches later he stole 3B on a slider. Okolita went down on strikes, frozen up by a curveball at the knees. Anderton’s hard grounder up the middle was fielded by Hauer, who retired him at 1B. Rivera came home to open Darwin’s account. 3-1 Christchurch.

Bottom of the inning and Corless got the home fans jumping with a 447-foot drive over CF. Christchurch’s third solo homerun of the night. 4-1 Cowboys.

Fenton singled with 1 away in the 5th but was forced out at 2B in an attempted double-play. Whalley hustled to beat the throw and quickly stole 2B but was left stranded there. Tipping kept on giving up long drives, McMullen leading off the bottom of the inning with a double over the head of CF Whalley. Hauer then hoisted a curve over the head of LF Fenton for a double of his own, worth 1 RBI and Christchurch were slowly gaining the ascendancy. Fookes’ well struck fly was tracked down and caught in CF but Hauer tagged up and jogged to 3B. Wurfel, who’d struck out both his at-bats, was intentionally walked to set up the double-play but Utting didn’t oblige, his deep fly-out to centre scoring Hauer. That marked the end of Tipping’s night (4.2IP, 9H, 6ER, 1BB, 5K), reliever Brad Beaton getting the final out of the inning.

6-1 Cowboys after 5.

Rivera hoicked a slider down the LF line for a 1-out double in the 6th and advanced to 3B on Okolita’s ground out. Anderton worked the count to 3-1 and got a nice cutter in the middle of the zone but could only ground out up the middle to end the inning.

In the bottom of the inning Sneddon walked and stole 2B, coming in to score off McMullen’s 2-out single. McMullen swiped 2B off the very next pitch, Lecomte and Rivera arguing with the umpire for a few moments over the call. Hauer doubled, his fourth hit of the night, to score McMullen. Fookes singled up the middle and the lead-footed Hauer held up at 3B. Wurfel ground out 5-4 to end the inning. 8-1 Cowboys.

Sosa lined a 1-out single to right in the top of the 7th and Fenton worked a walk. Whalley popped out and Lecomte flied out to right to end the inning.

Utting doubled to begin the bottom of the inning. A 2-out error by Rivera allowed Utting to move up to 3B and Sneddon to reach 1B. Vega popped out and finally Christchurch had stranded someone in scoring position.

Boston got himself a scratch hit to start the 8th and Montanez came from the mound, replaced by Jeremy Hofmann. Rivera singled and both runners advanced on Okolita’s shallow ground out to 3B. Anderton hit a chopper that Hauer attacked. Boston scampered home and Anderton was called safe at 3B. Bacon’s dribbler to 1B resulted in him being forced out but another run scoring. Sosa struck out looking to end the frame. 8-3 Christchurch.

Dylan Durrington retired the Cowboys in order in the bottom of the inning for the first time in the game. Hofmann also retired Darwin in order and that was the end of proceedings.

Final score: 8-3 Christchurch in a one-horse race. Montanez (7.0IP, 8H, 2ER, 1BB, 3K) got the win, while Hauer went 4-5 with 3RBI to be awarded PotG. Rivera was 4-4 for the Diggers. Wurfel went 0-3 with a walk and 2 strikeouts. He left 6 on-base.

Game 2

32 y/o American Willie Russell (5-7, 3.84 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 1.22 WHIP) had sat out 2 and a half months of the season with a torn meniscus but hadn’t missed a start since coming back at the beginning of January. He would take on 36 y/o Ted Heathcote (12-10, 3.94 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.17 WHIP) in a battle of the veterans. Heathcote hadn’t allowed a solitary run across 2 starts totalling 12 innings this postseason and said he was “raring to go out there and add another ring” to the one he’d won back in 2052 with the Thunder. This was the tenth postseason of Heathcote’s career.

Kimpton returned to the side to face the right-handed Russell, while Darwin was unchanged. The roof was once again closed due to rain.

3 up, 3 down in the top of the 1st, Heathcote needing just 9 pitches, all the outs poorly hit groundballs. Russell also needed only 9 pitches to negotiate the bottom of the inning, a fine lunging catch by SS Lecomte robbing McMullen of a base-hit up the middle.

With 1 down in the top of the 2nd Anderton absolutely crushed an 0-2 fastball over centre. He stood and watched it land in the VIP seating against the rear wall. Heathcote wasn’t so happy about the length of time Anderton spent admiring his shot and the 2 exchanged words while the burly 1B trotted around the bases. The length of the drive was calculated at 493 feet, one of the biggest bombs launched in Cowboys’ stadium. Heathcote’s scoreless inning streak was well and truly broken.

Bacon followed up with a single to CF and Sosa a single to right but Fenton ground into a 6-4-3 double-play to finish the inning. 1-0 Darwin.

Fookes led off the bottom of the inning with a single wide of a despairing Anderton at 1B, with one of the commentators joking that perhaps Anderton was still replaying his homerun in his head. Fookes was left stranded, Russell striking out 2 of the next 3.

Top of the 3rd and Whalley led off with a single, moving into scoring position on Lecomte’s ground-out. Boston drove a 2-1 fastball into shallow left and Whalley raced home from 2B. 2-0 Diggers.

Everybody was wondering if Heathcote would bean Anderton next time up. He didn’t, and Anderton pulled the first pitch of the at-bat into right but only as far as the fielder’s glove.

Fenton singled in the 5th and an out later raced to 3B after Lecomte snuck a groundball between 1B and 2B. Lecomte then tried to steal 2B but Kimpton gunned him down. Boston flied out to left and the inning was over. Sorensen walked in the bottom of the inning and made 3B on Sneddon’s 2-out pop-fly single to right. Vega walked on 4 pitches and the bases were full. McMullen smashed one up the middle but 2B Rivera ranged to his right, gloved it and stepped on the base for the out.

With 1 out in the 6th Okolita slugged a knee-high 0-1 fastball over left and into the stands. Anderton followed up with a single and with 2 outs Sosa rolled a single into left. Fenton went down swinging to end the inning. 3-0 Diggers and despite having 10 base hits to Christchurch’s 3 they couldn’t put themselves in a dominant position.

Heathcote (6.0IP, 10H, 3ER, 0BB, 3K) was replaced by Ryan Digby for the 7th and took a seat on the dugout bench, glowering.

The 7th and top of the 8th passed without incident. Vega led off the bottom of the 8th with a triple off the top of the RF fence and that spelled the end of Russell’s night. Reliever Martin Silva walked McMullen and Hauer to load the bases with zero away. Fookes ground into a 5-4-3 double-play but Vega scored to move Christchurch within 2. A pitch later it was a tie game, Kimpton doing what he does, driving a low fastball into the right-centre bleachers. Utting extended the inning with a walk before Sorensen ground out.

3-3, tie game.

Carson came out for Christchurch in the 9th and struck out 2 of 3. Rod Bacon took the hill for the Diggers. Vega singled with 2 outs and stole 2B on a close call. McMullen walked. Down 0-2, Hauer blooped a single to left and Vega didn’t hesitate rounding 3B. He dived home without a throw and Christchurch had pulled off a heist!

Final score: 4-3 Cowboys. Russell (7.0IP, 4H, 1ER, 3BB, 5K) couldn’t have done more to give his team the win, though perhaps he shouldn’t have come out to begin the 8th. The Cowboys only recorded 7 hits but drew the same amount of walks.

Game 3

The Big Show travelled to Darwin, with the Diggers in an 0-2 hole.

Christchurch would start 38 y/o Dan Pankhurst (11-13, 4.05 ERA, 4.19 FIP, 1.33 WHIP). Pankhurst was 159-186 across his regular season career, with his last winning season being a 10-9 effort in 2057. Across 7 postseason campaigns, including 2063, he was 5-3 from 11 starts. He was 2 and oh so far this playoffs.

He would take on Darwin’s ace, Zachariah Pond (13-14, 5.84 ERA, 4.33 FIP, 1.55 WHIP), who’d had a turbulent season, his defence often letting him down. He was 3-1 from 4 postseason starts in 2063, though his ERA of 6.20 was exactly the same as his FIP. 32 y/o Pond said to media before this start, “I’m due a good one, aren’t I?”

Darwin’s weather, unlike Christchurch’s, was very warm and clear, though a stiff breeze blowing out to left might give the players some respite from the heat.

Boston delivered the first hit of the night in the bottom of the 1st, doubling down the 1B line. Rivera followed with a single to right and Boston dived home safe. An out later Anderton laced a single up the middle and Rivera scampered home. 2-0 Darwin after 1.

The bottom of the 2nd began with a Sosa double followed by a Fenton walk, Pankhurst not looking at his best. Whalley crunched an 0-1 fastball on the outside of the plate opposite field. It hit the wall in left-centre with a bang and Whalley, a speed merchant, put on the jets rounding 2B. He made 3B safely for a 2-RBI triple. Lecomte then singled him home and Darwin were running away with it early.

5-0 Darwin after 2.

Vega picked up Christchurch’s first hit in the top of the 3rd, a 2-out single back through the box. McMullen flied out to left on the very next pitch to end the inning.

Bacon got a 3-1 fastball up in the zone in the bottom of the 3rd and made Pankhurst pay, delivering the ball to the waiting gloves of the fans in the left-centre bleachers. Sosa singled but was nabbed trying to steal 2B. 6-0 Diggers.

The Cowboys subbed Pankhurst (3.0IP, 8H, 6ER, 1BB, 1K) for the 4th, 39 y/o Rex Herbert joining the fray. Herbert had thrown twice during the series versus Cairns, looking a faint shadow of his former self on both occasions. Whalley opened the inning with a single to right but an out later was thrown out on a steal attempt. Boston walked and Rivera singled, giving Darwin runners at the corners with 2 away. Okolita walked to jam the bags. Anderton hit a lazy 2-1 sinker up the middle for a 2-RBI single. Bacon walked and the bases were again juiced. Sosa singled down the 3B line and 2 more runners scored. Herbert was replaced by Ralston, another pitcher who was a long way from his glory years. He walked Fenton and for the third time in the inning the bases were loaded. Whalley ground out to short and the frame was finally over.

10-0 Darwin after just 4 innings.

After allowing a double to begin the 5th, Pond upped the voltage, striking out the next 3. He’d conceded just 3 hits and 1 walk through 5, while fanning 6.

Ralston stayed on the mound to retire the Diggers in order for the first time in the game in the bottom of the inning. He eased through the 6th as well despite giving up a leadoff walk.

Utting picked up his second double of the night in the 7th and an out later pinch-hitter Jayden Roneberg drew a walk. Vega’s soft 2-out grounder found its way into RF and Utting came in to score the Cowboys’ opening run. McMullen then doubled past 1B and the 2 runners aboard scored. Hauer followed up with a double to nearly the same spot, bringing McMullen home. Fookes was frozen up by a fastball to end the inning and give Pond his 10th punch-out.

10-4 Diggers.

19-game winner Edward Vance came out to throw the bottom of the inning and immediately gave up a tater to Sosa. 11-4.

Pond (7.0IP, 8H, 4ER, 2BB, 10K) was replaced by Saldana for the 8th. Saldana allowed a 2-out walk and single but the Cowboys couldn’t convert that to runs on the board. Saldana stayed in for the 9th and retired the side in order.

Final score: 11-4 Darwin to open their Championship account. Sosa was 4-4 with a double and a dinger while Hauer (3-5) and Utting (2-3, 1BB) both doubled twice.

Game 4

Christchurch started Montanez again but Darwin opted for Willem Throsby (11-15, 5.54 ERA, 5.05 FIP, 1.44 WHIP), who had made 2 relief appearances so far this postseason, allowing no runs across 3.0 innings. Throsby, who had put together a 19-game undefeated streak last season, threw a decent fastball, changeup and forkball, as well as a poor slider.

A strong breeze was blowing out to left.

Both pitchers got through the first in brief fashion, Montanez only needing 6 pitches.

In the 2nd, Fookes led off with a single and advanced to 3B on Kimpton’s single to right. RF Fenton made a throw to 3B but it was late. To add injury to insult he then left the field with a sore back to be replaced by Jayden Pye. Utting followed up with a soft single to CF and Fookes lumbered home. Sorensen hit into a tailor-made 4-6-3 double-play, dropping his postseason BA to .133 and Corless popped out to 2B to end the inning. 1-0 Cowboys.

The Darwin hitters were aggressive through the first 3, Montanez conceding just 1 hit while throwing only 23 pitches. 5 of the 9 outs were first-pitch swings. Boston showed some patience to draw a leadoff walk to begin the 4th and an out later Okolita found himself on-base when Montanez fumbled an easy return grounder. Boston advanced to 3B on Anderton’s fly-out to right but the Diggers couldn’t capitalize, CF Corless running down Bacon’s hard fly to end the inning.

Still 1-0 Cowboys after 4.

Sneddon made good use of the wind, his opposite-field fly going the distance to open the 6th and double Christchurch’s lead. Vega singled and advanced to 2B on a ground-out. Hauer was intentionally walked to set up the double-play but Fookes didn’t oblige, his line-drive up the middle finding grass and loading the bags. Kimpton hit a deep fly to right-centre but was retired. Vega tagged up and scored. Utting drew a walk in a call that Throsby clearly did not agree with but Sorensen could only fly out to CF to end the inning. 3-0 Christchurch.

Boston’s 1-out single in the bottom of the inning was only Darwin’s second hit of the night. Boston was left at 2B, though for a few moments it looked as if Okolita’s fly would carry over the head of LF Sneddon. No dice and the Diggers remained at nought, the game about to enter its final third.

Throsby sent them back in order in the top of the 7th and the Diggers finally got on the board in the bottom of the inning, Anderton hitting his 5th jack of the postseason, this one down the RF line. Bacon jumped on the very next pitch, a chest-high cutter, also sending it over the rightfield fence. Back-to-back homers and Darwin were 1 swing away from levelling it up. 3-2 Cowboys after 7.

Hauer walked in the top of the 8th, Throsby’s 6th walk of the night. Fookes then legged it out for an infield hit, Throsby slow to respond from the mound. That was his night done, replacement Martin Silva getting the final 2 outs of the inning via strikeout.

Montanez got through the 8th in order and Rod Bacon came out for Darwin to throw the top of the 9th. Corless got aboard with 1 out thanks to Boston, having run back to the wall, dropping his fly. An out later Vega flared a single to right-centre but both runners were left stranded.

The Cowboys sent closer Carson to the hill for the bottom of the inning, with Okolita, Anderton and Dustin Bacon due up. Okolita struck out swinging on an inside fastball. Anderton’s towering pop-up was caught in leftfield. Bacon rifled one to right and decided for 2, called safe in contentious fashion, the Cowboys’ skipper leaving the dugout but stopping short of entering the field of play. Sosa ground out 5-3 and that was the game.

Final score: 3-2 Christchurch, to bring them within 1 game of the Championship.

Montanez (8.0IP, 4H, 2ER, 1BB, 1K) was the deserved winner, while Throsby (7.1IP, 7H, 3ER, 6BB, 1K) was lucky not to go for more.

Game 5

With everything on the line, Darwin would start Game 1 loser Allan Tipping, while Christchurch trotted out Game 2 starter Ted Heathcote.

Fenton would take the field for Darwin, despite his sore back. With the wind blowing in from right he might not have to do too much looking over his shoulder.

The Cowboys managed 2 base hits in the first 2 innings but weren’t able to do anything with them. Okolita walked to lead off the bottom of the 2nd and found himself at 3B two outs later after Sosa doubled over 3B. Fenton, dosed up on legal painkillers, hit a frozen rope to centre. It eluded Corless and rolled all the way to the wall. Both runners scored and Fenton dived in safe at 3B with a triple. Whalley was called out on strikes to end the frame. 2-0 Darwin.

With 1 out in the 4th, Fookes singled and Kimpton walked to move a runner into scoring position. Utting flied out to right and the inning looked over when Sorensen popped up into foul territory near 1B. Anderton ranged over and then, inexplicably, dropped the catch. 2 pitches later Sorensen walked to load the bases, Tipping having an animated discussion with himself on the mound. Corless swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and sent a bouncing groundball towards Anderton. This time the 1B was all business, attacking the ball, gloving it cleanly and stepping on the base well ahead of the CF for the final out.

Vega muffed one in the bottom of the inning, allowing Anderton aboard with 1 out but Heathcote caught him leaning moments later. Pick off!

Sneddon led off the 5th with a single and then Tipping nailed Vega. Sneddon tagged up at 2B and made it to 3rd without a throw on McMullen’s fly-out to the LF wall. Hauer flied out to almost the same spot and Sneddon jogged home for Christchurch’s opening run. 2-1 Darwin after 4 and a half.

The painkillers were working awfully well, Fenton beginning the bottom of the 5th with an opposite field double. Hauer made a nice play up the middle to cut off Whalley’s groundball but couldn’t get him at 1B. Runners on the corners, nobody out. It became runners on 2B and 3B after Whalley stole 2B. Darwin put on a hit and run, Lecomte’s sharp ground-out to 2B scoring Fenton. That was the only scoring action of the inning.

3-1 Darwin with 5 in the bank.

Tipping drilled his second batter of the night in the 6th, and with 2 outs, Corless’s soft single to centre saw that batter, Utting, make it safely to 3B. Sneddon walked on 4 pitches and the bases were again full. Vega could only manage a mis-hit back towards the pitcher who threw him out at 1B. Inning over, Christchurch still 2 behind.

With 1 away in the bottom of the inning, Anderton doubled down the 1B line, sending Heathcote (5.1IP, 6H, 3ER, 1BB, 3K) to the showers. Digby got the final 2 outs of the inning without any dramas.

Tipping (6.0IP, 5H, 1ER, 3BB, 2K) was subbed for Saldana who struck out the first 2 of the 7th before giving up a single to Fookes. Kimpton walked and Utting singled up the middle, scoring 1. Sorensen struck out to drop his postseason BA to .111. 3-2 Cowboys.

Digby struck out 2 while retiring the Diggers in order in the bottom of the inning and the commentators stated they could feel the momentum shifting Christchurch’s way.

The Diggers obviously didn’t think so, Silva striking out Corless and Anderton making a fine diving stop and toss to retire Sneddon. Vega also struck out and Darwin remained 1 run in front.

Boston doubled to the LF wall to open proceedings in the bottom of the inning. Rivera fanned, Digby still on the mound. Okolita was waved over to 1B and pinch-hitter Richard Page came out for his first postseason at-bat. He struck out swinging savagely, as did Dustin Bacon who was utterly fooled by a changeup.

Page, who’d pinch-hit for Anderton, was in turn replaced by Pye, who’d play 1B. Rod Bacon took the hill and blew McMullen away. Hauer flied out to left and the Diggers were 1 out away from sending this thing back to Christchurch. Fookes hit a grounder back towards the mound and Bacon made no mistake throwing to Pye, who looked assured in the position he’d fielded most at during the regular season (if one can call 189 innings across 24 games a lot).

Final score: 3-2 Darwin and they weren’t dead yet.

The Cowboys only used 2 pitchers, while both sides fanned 8, Tipping getting the W.

Game 6

Back in Christchurch for Game 6, and the Cowboys had an ace up their sleeve. That ace was 19-game winner Edward Vance (19-5, 3.48 ERA, 4.23 FIP, 1.25 WHIP), who’d thrown 2 innings of relief this series, giving up a solitary homerun. He hadn’t started a game since the 18th of March. He would take on Russell, who was reportedly still fuming at the manner of Darwin’s Game 2 loss, when he threw 7 innings for just 4 hits, 3 walks, and 1 run.

The Diggers were only 40-41 on the road during the regular season, and despite having extended this series the odds were still stacked against them.

They did have one person in their corner, though. Alan ‘The Professor’ Sneddon assured all and sundry the Diggers could do it, though, he said, “Okolita needs to step up his game. 1-15 so far this series in the middle of the lineup, that just isn’t going to cut it. Yes, he’s walked 6 times, so he hasn’t been a total passenger, but they need him to take some cuts as well as work the counts. Actually, most of those walks haven’t been tough earns; they’ve just been 4 or 5 pitch jobbies. They also need Lecomte to do his job ahead of the big guns and get on-base. A slash-line of .136/.136/.136, or 3-22, isn’t good enough. It’s a domino effect, really. Lecomte gets aboard and the rest of the offense will benefit thanks to the uncertainty he gives pitchers.”

The rain was falling as it had for the first two games of the series, so the roof was closed.

Lecomte ground out to 3B to start the game but Boston’s shot to the same area eluded Utting, rolling into the corner. Boston dived into 2B with a double, scoring when Rivera hit a single up the middle. Okolita continued his poor Championship form, struck out swinging, and Anderton ground out 4-3. Early 1-0 lead to the Diggers.

The Cowboys were struck a blow in the 2nd. Vance eased through the inning but hurt himself throwing to 1B for the final out. He immediately headed up the tunnel to the changing sheds, with word quickly following that he’d play no further part in proceedings thank to a sore abdomen.

Southpaw Digby replaced Vance. He retired the first 2 easily enough but then light-hitting Boston launched a 1-1 cutter way back over left-centre. It bounced off the upper tier and Boston took a slow stroll around the bases. The homer was Boston’s first postseason effort in his 9th postseason trip. 2-0 Darwin.

Sorensen immediately got one back in the bottom of the inning, his fly over left-centre measured at 423 feet. Vega doubled with 2 outs but was left stranded. 2-1 Diggers.

Anderton led off the 4th with a single to right, followed by a Dustin Bacon double over the head of the CF. LF Sneddon made a great running catch to retire Sosa but could do nothing to stop Anderton tagging up and scoring. The next 2 hitters ground out 4-3, the score now 3-1 in Darwin’s favour.

The 5th passed in scoreless fashion, Digby staying on the mound to begin the 6th, having already thrown 3 innings. Okolita picked up his second hit of the series to start proceedings. An out later Digby was replaced by Jeremy Toohey, and Bacon greeted him with his second double of the night. Sosa flied out to left and Sneddon threw home, hoping to catch the lead-footed Okolita. Okolita dived home in a cloud of dust, and was called safe by the home-plate umpire. Kimpton protested vociferously but to no avail. Fenton walked but Christchurch were spared further runs thanks to Utting’s dismissal of Whalley. Whalley poked a fly towards the foul-line in shallow left and Utting, sprinting back, slid on his knees to make a fine basket catch. 4-1 Darwin.

Russell cruised through the bottom of the inning, having allowed only 5 baserunners (4 hits, 1HBP) thus far.

Boston was seeing it like a beach ball, his 1-out double in the 7th his third extra-base hit of the night. He couldn’t cross home-plate, however, left stranded at 3B come the completion of the inning.

Fookes ground out 4-3 to start the bottom of the inning. Kimpton, also struggling this series, hit a bouncer to the right of SS Lecomte who fired a bullet to 1B to retire him before he’d even got halfway up the line. Utting turned on a 1-1 fastball, sending it over right and into the bleachers. Sorensen struck out. 4-2 Christchurch, and they weren’t out of this one yet.

The first pitch of the 8th was clubbed by Bacon directly to 2B for a routine 4-3 putout. Jeremy Hoffmann subbed in and immediately walked Sosa and Fenton. Whalley punched a fastball down the 1B line. Fookes got in front of it and sent it to 2B for 1. The throw came back to 1B but Whalley gassed it out to win the race. Lecomte, 0-4 to this point, singled past a diving 2B, scoring Sosa. With the count 2-1 on Boston, Lecomte stole 2B. 3 pitches later Boston lofted a splitter down the LF line. It found grass and hopped into the corner. Both runners scored and Boston had his third double of the night, equalling the AUNZBL playoff game record. Hofmann signalled to the trainer and came from the mound. Christchurch’s second pitching injury of the evening. Rod Whiskin replaced him and blew Rivera away with a high fastball.

7-2 Darwin after 8 and unless Christchurch could muster something we were headed to an anything-could-happen Game 7.

Russell (7.0IP, 5H, 2ER, 0BB, 5K) was replaced by Saldana for the 8th, and took a seat in the dugout, his throwing arm wrapped in wet towels.

Corless struck out swinging at a 158 km/h fastball, his third whiff of the night. Sneddon popped out into foul territory, 3B-side. Vega was retired 6-3.

The top of the 9th was a great showcase for power pitching, Whiskin blowing away Okolita and Anderton, Dustin Bacon only able to hit a weak grounder to 2B.

Saldana stayed out for the bottom of the 9th, though Rod Bacon was up and throwing in the bullpen just in case. McMullen doubled into the RF corner. Saldana dialled up his fastball to 164 km/h to strike out Hauer. Fookes jumped on a low 0-2 fastball and drove it into the right-centre seats. 2-run homer and the deficit was just 3 with 2 outs to play. Bacon came to the mound and Kimpton singled past the SS, advancing to 2B on a wild pitch. Okolita, Bacon and Rivera conflabbed on the mound for a good minute-and-a-half before play resumed. The chat worked, Bacon fanning Utting 4 pitches later with a high heater. He got ahead of Sorensen but the DH was quick to punish a middle-of-the-plate 0-2 fastball, launching it over leftfield. Another 2-run homerun and Christchurch were back within 1. Corless bounced a single into right but Bacon recovered to pepper the outside bottom corner of Sneddon’s strikezone, eventually freezing him up to record the game-ending strikeout.

Final score: 7-6 Darwin, and they’d held on to force a winner takes all event.

Sorensen went 3-4 with 2HR. Boston was 4-5 with 3 doubles and a dinger.

Game 7

The excitement was palpable, the fans of both teams in loud voice well before the game started.

Especially excited was Alan Sneddon, who’d been allowed to broadcast pregame from the 1B foul-line. Decked out in Darwin kit, it was clear his allegiances lay with the team he’d played 11 seasons and 6 postseasons for. He interviewed several players, though got more than he bargained for when interviewing Lecomte, whom he’d been critical of before yesterday’s game.

Near the end of the interview, in response to a question regarding Lecomte’s playoff experience, particularly how he’d participated in the Championship Series 4 of the last 5 seasons, Lecomte replied, “Well, it's true, I’ve only been in Darwin 1 season but it certainly seems like things are on the up and up now that you’ve moved on.”

Momentarily nonplussed, Sneddon nonetheless quickly recovered to mutter, “Big Dumb, yep I understand that now,” before moving on to ask Lecomte what he thought the Diggers needed to do to win it. Lecomte replied with, “Score the most runs, of course,” at which point the interview ended.

Despite the jab, Sneddon later wrapped up his pregame show with the following prediction, “Last time Zachariah Pond was on the mound in this series Darwin triumphed 11-4. That was against Dan Pankhurst, who is on the mound again today. While I don’t think it’ll be that comprehensive this time around I’m picking Darwin to cruise to a comfortable 3-run win, either 7-4 or 8-5.”

Once again the roof was closed. Both teams played the same lineups as had started yesterday.

Pankhurst retired the side in order in the 1st, all his outs of the groundball variety. Pond got the first 2 outs of the bottom of the inning easily, before delivering a 1-0 fastball to Hauer that sat up in the zone. Hauer made no mistake, crushing it over right-centre. Solo HR and advantage Cowboys. Fookes followed with an infield single to the edge of the grass behind 2B. Kimpton also singled to shallow CF and Pond beat a track circling the mound. He threw 3 sliders to Utting to go ahead 1-2 before painting the outside corner with a 158 km/h fastball that Utting couldn’t connect with. The large contingent of Diggers fans roared with delight and Pond allowed himself a fist-pump on his way to the dugout.

1-0 Christchurch.

Bacon singled wide of 1B with 2 out in the 2nd. Sosa flared a single to the RF grass to give Darwin 2 baserunners. Fenton walked on a 3-2 call that could’ve gone either way and the bases were drunk. Whalley’s fly to CF was easily disposed of and the threat was over.

Once again, Pond got the first 2 outs of the inning easily before giving up a single to Sneddon. No jitters this time around though as he froze Vega up to end the inning.

Lecomte began the 3rd with an opposite-field single. He took off for 2B the very next pitch. His jump was good and Kimpton’s throw was very bad, sailing into CF. Lecomte cruised over to 3B. When Boston connected with a 2-0 fastball toward 2B he ran with the contact to score unopposed. Boston was retired at 1B. Middle of the 3rd and the game was locked up at 1 apiece.

An error by the usually dependable Fenton in RF allowed Hauer aboard with 1 away in the bottom of the inning but Pond got the next 2 outs without difficulty.

With 2 outs in the 4th, Sosa walked. Fenton then singled up the middle to atone for his error, Sosa motoring to 3B. Whalley drove an 0-2 fastball deep to right but McMullen tracked it well, catching it just short of the wall.

3 up, 3 down in the bottom of the inning, Pond with 5 punch-outs after 4 frames.

Boston’s single into the 3B alley gave Darwin a runner with 1 away in the 5th. That runner moved to scoring position soon thereafter, Boston getting a great jump on Pankhurst to steal the base. That was his first steal of the postseason and only his 5 successful attempt of 2063. He made 3B on Rivera’s ground out and scored off Okolita’s single to shallow left.

2-1 Darwin midway through the 5th.

Vega was called safe with an infield hit in the bottom of the inning, 1B Anderton shaking his head at the call. Christchurch, however, couldn’t capitalize, the final 2 outs of the inning made without dispute.

Pankhurst struck out the side in the top of the 6th, and waved his arms at the crowd, trying to up the noise. It worked, and must have pumped Fookes up too, for he then licked a fastball over right-centre for a leadoff, game-tying homerun. Kimpton walked and Darwin’s skipper made the trek out to the mound to hook Pond (5.0IP, 6H, 2ER, 1BB, 6K). He was replaced by Throsby, who immediately induced a groundball for a 4-6-3 double-play. Sorensen dribbled out back to the pitcher to end the inning.

Tie game once again, the score 2-2.

Pankhurst (6.0IP, 6H, 2ER, 2BB, 4K) was replaced by Whiskin, having thrown 111 pitches. Whiskin fanned Whalley with his giant curveball to get proceedings underway in the 7th. Lecomte flied out but Boston continued his good form, singling to right-centre. Rivera made good contact on a 3-1 fastball but was undone by hitting to the longest part of the ballpark, in the end easily caught by the CF.

Corless was hunted down by RF Fenton to be the first out in the bottom of the inning. Sneddon was another deep fly out, this time caught by CF Whalley. Vega walked on 4 pitches before McMullen ground out to 1B.

Top of the 8th, and Okolita ground out to the SS to be the first out. Anderton took a fastball on the shin and hobbled to 1B. Bacon popped out near the pitcher and Sosa ground out up the middle.

Martin Silva took the mound for the bottom of the 8th, up against the meat of Christchurch’s lineup. Hauer bounced a single past a lunging Sosa at 3B. Fookes walked as did Kimpton. Bases loaded, nobody out and the Cowboys had the chance to take this thing by the scruff of its neck. Utting fouled 4 off before singling to CF. Hauer scored. Fookes headed for home but was thrown out by Whalley. Sorensen struck out looking. Corless belted a curveball into the left-centre gap. Boston hurried back and across, finally leaping to make the catch at full extension. The hometown fans groaned, the visiting fans screamed with delight.

3-2 Christchurch, the damage inflicted not nearly as severe as they would have liked. But still, they had the lead and needed just 3 outs to win it all.

Top of the 9th, and an opportunity for young Scott Carson to etch his name in the history books, one way or another. Fenton led off with a 6-pitch walk. Whalley’s hard groundball headed straight to Vega who began a routine 6-4-3 double-play. 1 out left! Lecomte walked on 4 pitches. Boston, who’d been in great form this Championship Series, could only ground it to the SS, who hit the 1B target to retire him and get the celebrations started.

And that was the game, the final score 3-2 Christchurch, the Cowboys breaking a 32-year drought to win their third Championship!

Hauer (.444/.500/.704, 1HR) won the series’ MVP. “It’ll take a while for this to sink in,” the 2059 third-overall pick said when a journalist interrupted his revelry. “This is just such a huge deal for the fans and for the city. I mean, I wasn’t even born last time they won!”

Darwin manager Gavin Brigatti summed up his feelings this way: “Disappointed, of course, but still really proud of the lads. We showed real fight and this was one of those Game 7s that will be remembered, I think, for being a great contest between two equally deserving teams.”

Cowboys’ veteran Lance Ralston, who’d thrown 4.1 scoreless innings of relief during the postseason, including 2.1 innings of mop-up duty in Christchurch’s blowout 11-4 Game 3 loss, was ecstatic. “What a great feeling! Different to when I was an ace with the Bandits but definitely still amazing. Watching from the angle I have this season has put a lot of things into perspective, actually, things I certainly didn’t appreciate back in 2050.” Ralston had won 3 consecutive Championships with the Aguirre-led Bandits from 2049-2051.

For Rex Herbert, who’d won rings with Canberra from 2053-2055 and had been part of Perth’s maiden Championship win, this win was somewhat bittersweet. “Look, it’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I’d be lying if I felt I deserved it. My few innings this postseason were basically glorified batting practice, and while I didn’t throw badly during the rest of the season I only got out there in 17 games, mostly because I was an expendable arm in situations where we were losing badly. That all being said, to see how much this means to the rest of the guys makes it worthwhile for me.” Of the 6 postseasons Herbert had played in, his team had won 5.

2063 Championship-winning Christchurch Cowboys
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Old 12-05-2017, 11:56 PM   #737
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Old 12-07-2017, 01:39 AM   #738
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2063 Season Leaderboards

2063 Season Leaderboards

Would Vern Bull finally win a Hoodie after having finished with silver or bronze on 3 previous occasions? He faced stiff competition from Richard Moore, only the 5th player to hit 50+ homeruns in a season, with Domenic Cook also having a dominating season.

The Hottie was, erm, hotly debated in the lead-up to awards night. Barry Dean was quite obviously the best pitcher in baseball but that was true in 2062 as well, when he'd been passed over in favour of a pitcher with a better looking wins column. This season Teddy Wigley had recorded a 20-win season, even if the rest of his stats showed the Adelaide offense was the real winner. Would Wigley get the nod, or would Dean prevail to the joy of stats-heads everywhere? Or would the selection committee throw a real curveball and give someone else the award?
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Old 12-17-2017, 04:42 PM   #739
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2063 Awards

2063 Awards

Gold Gloves

Pitcher: Kent Ju (Newcastle Roos)
Catcher: John Dalton (Hobart Prospects)
First Baseman: Ronald Aitken (Cairns Crocs)
Second Baseman: Jack Pye (Canberra Cavalry)
Third Baseman: Matthew Utting (Christchurch Cowboys)
Shortstop: Noel Dickson (Melbourne Aces)
Left Fielder: Kelvin Pickhills (Christchurch Cowboys)
Centre Fielder: Pete Mulholland (Brisbane Bandits)
Right Fielder: Danny Caporn (Canberra Cavalry)

Brodie Backhouse Award

Who would be adjudged the best reliever of 2063? Isaac Canavan led the league with 45 saves, the third time in 4 years he’d topped the AUNZBL in that stat. Rich Steedman had broken one of the oldest pitching records in the league en-route to the completion of his 73-game save streak. Adelaide’s Moeaktola Liao had dealt with the adversity of changing teams partway through the season, blowing only 1 save across 40 attempts, while Isaac Graham of the Prospects blew just 2 saves in 45 opportunities and threw a very pretty combination of sinkers, knuckle-curves and occasional changeups.

But the award went to none of those players. Last year’s winner, Rod Bacon, got the gong again and admitted upon acceptance that “he was as surprised as anyone.”

He continued, “Sure, I had a decent season but I certainly didn’t expect to be in the frame for this.”

In 2063, Bacon had gone 9-3, with 31 saves accompanying a 1.16 ERA, 2.42 FIP, and 0.79 WHIP. He’d fanned 71 batters in 62.0 innings, at a rate of 10.3, allowing just 35 hits and 14 walks together with a measly 8 earned runs. His ERA+ was 393, his FIP- 53, and his WAR 1.8.

Liao (7-3, 39 sv, 2.02 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 0.79 WHIP, 81 strikeouts in 71.1 IP) came second, and the record-breaking Steedman (7-7, 37 sv, 1.91 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, 89 strikeouts in 75.1 IP) rounded out the top 3.

Super Slugger Awards

C: Vern Bull - MEL - .333/.459/.578, 166-498, 90 runs, 23 doubles, 33HR, 104RBI, 118BB, 623PA, 8.8 WAR, 172 OPS+, 171 wRC+

1B: Richard Moore - ADE - .317/.433/.610, 190-600, 128 runs, 19 doubles, 2 triples, 51HR, 140RBI, 124BB, 1SB, 736PA, 7.5WAR, 172 OPS+, 165 wRC+

2B: Domenic Cook - BRI - .322/.378/.609, 176-547, 96 runs, 27 doubles, 2 triples, 42HR, 116RBI, 44BB, 9SB, 598PA, 7.7 WAR, 155 OPS+, 156 wRC+

3B: Mario Correa - CAI - .323/.355/.554, 185-572, 90 runs, 26 doubles, 2 triples, 34HR, 140RBI, 31BB, 2SB, 612PA, 5.3 WAR, 136 OPS+, 134 wRC+

SS: Bailey Kinnear - SYD - .302/.386/.450, 173-573, 85 runs, 30 doubles, 2 triples, 17HR, 71RBI, 77BB, 4SB, 661PA, 4.4 WAR, 120 OPS+, 124 wRC+

LF: Tomas Zartuche - ADE - .329/.374/.454, 220-669, 113 runs, 32 doubles, 11 triples, 10HR, 74RBI, 39BB, 48SB, 723PA, 3.3 WAR, 118 OPS+, 119 wRC+

CF: Egdardo Rico - WHA - .324/.366/.431, 210-649, 109 runs, 45 doubles, 5 triples, 5HR, 61RBI, 42BB, 40SB, 708PA, 4.8 WAR, 110 OPS+, 108 wRC+

RF: Calvin Hodnett - PER - .285/.355/.511, 164-575, 88 runs, 28 doubles, 3 triples, 32HR, 89RBI, 59BB, 5SB, 647PA, 4.5 WAR, 126 OPS+, 123 wRC+

DH: Ramon Martinez - KUN - .267/.356/.498, 167-626, 115 runs, 29 doubles, 1 triple, 38HR, 113RBI, 80BB, 7SB, 724PA, 2.0 WAR, 123 OPS+, 117 wRC+

Rookie of the Year

Jay Watts had a stellar season for new club Canberra, making RotY an easy choice. He hit .335/.388/.581, his 187 hits including 33 doubles, 3 triples, and 33 homeruns. He amassed a 7.0 WAR, a 152 OPS+, and a 153 wRC+. The 26 y/o had been drafted by the Bandits in round 6 of the 2060 draft and made his big-league debut for them in 2062. An offseason trade saw him move to Canberra and he slotted straight into their lineup, hitting at 3 ahead of Neil Bellett. Bellett was only 2 years older than Watts but had been a regular in the Canberra lineup since the year Watts was drafted.

“Dunno if I’m a late bloomer so much as a guy who’s slow and steady,” Watts said in his acceptance speech. “But either way, I’m glad to be here and I’ll put this award front and centre in my cabinet.”

27 y/o Chuk-yan Ling (.3245/.367/.528, 33 doubles, 18HR, 138-426, 2.1 WAR, 133 OPS+) came second, despite having clocked up well over a year-and-a-half of major-league service time by the end of the season. 23 y/o Scott Carson (5-3, 4 sv, 2.29 ERA, 2.37 FIP, 1.14 WHIP, 138 K from 90.1IP, 2.6 WAR, 199 ERA+, 53 FIP-) came third. In a surprise to many, Jose de la Cruz didn’t rate a mention.

Skipper of the Year

The fan pick to win Skipper of the Year was Darwin manager Gavin Brigatti, who’d engineered the Preliminary Final upset over Adelaide. But, instead, it was Adelaide’s Luis Gonzalez who won it for the fifth year running. “A nice surprise,” he said in a typically bland acceptance speech.

Brigatti was full of praise for Gonzalez when interviewed outside the venue. “Class of his own really, isn’t he? I mean, the players he has, that helps but a lot of those guys have gone to Adelaide just so they can play under him, so you can’t really pull out that old argument if you want to debate the merits of him winning this award yet again.” With a wink, he added, "Perhaps it's time to consider a name change for this award."

Hurler of the Year

Who would be 2063 HotY? 20-win Wigley? The surprising Edward Vance?

The winner was... Barry Dean. The 28 y/o maestro picked up his third HotY and first since 2060. He’d broken the 9.0 WAR barrier for the third year running and punched out 200+ for the sixth season on the trot. He’d also thrown the most innings of his career (257.1), doing so in 34 starts while posting a 16-12 record. His ERA was a league-leading 2.80, his FIP an equally league-leading 2.78, and his WHIP also the best in the business at 1.04. His WAR was 9.3, a new season record, his ERA+ was 163, and his FIP- 61. He threw 7 complete games, a new personal best, while hitters could only manage a .610 OPS against him, the lowest mark of his career.

Dean’s career record was already 122-65 in just 7 big-league seasons and there were loud murmurings around the place that he was well on his way to being the best of all time. However, Dean didn’t give any time to such flights of fancy. “Seems like that’s inviting disaster,” he said, when asked the question by the Awards' Dinner MC. “Gotta make hay while the sun shines, like my dad always says. Things can go south in baseball very, very quickly and I’d rather stick to the here and now than get lost in the future.”

In a further nod to ‘meaningful’ stats over ‘counting’ stats, Karl Blackwell (14-9, 3.03 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.20 WHIP, 173 strikeouts from 243.1 innings, 6.1 WAR, 151 ERA+, 79 FIP-) was announced as runner-up, while Rod Bacon received his second shock of the night, coming third.

Wigley admitted he was surprised not to get a mention, saying, “Guess I’ll have to use that as motivation for next season, then.”

Jorge Diaz Award

Could this go to anyone else? Well, Melbourne fans certainly thought so but Vern Bull was consigned to his fourth podium finish, Richard Moore’s 51 homerun season impossible to overlook.

31 y/o Moore won the Hoodie for the third year in a row, hitting .317/.433/.610 along the way. His 190-600 included 19 doubles, 2 triples and 51 jacks. He also scored 128 runs, drove in 140 runners, and walked 124 times. His WAR was 7.5 and his OPS+ 172, the latter the best mark of his career. He also only struck out 64 times in 736 plate appearances.

Super Sluggers Vern Bull and Domenic Cook came second and third respectively. Melbourne skipper Khullana Vijayashree went into bat for his catcher after the event, saying, “I’m not sure what more Vern has to do to win this. I mean, he put up an 8.8 WAR season, the best for some time, doing so with over 100 less plate appearances than Richard. I know Richard did the whole 50 homerun thing but surely overall value should have, well, more value. Shouldn’t it?”

Nobody outside of Melbourne seemed to hold a similar viewpoint.
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Old 12-19-2017, 04:26 PM   #740
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Narrator’s Note

Narrator’s Note

As you read this I will be somewhere in the Void, that colloquial term we have for the vast stretches of empty space that separate us from our closest star neighbours. I may be heading to Tau Ceti or one of the Centauri stars. I cannot give more details than that.

Before I continue, please be assured dear readers that this baseball history will continue. Over the last few months I have been toiling feverishly to produce updates that will automatically upload on my behalf while I traverse these depths. In fact, you have already read one or two such.

This obsession I have with AUNZBL history, and with this historical account, was not easily explained to the people who have sent me on my way, I can tell you right now. But I argued them down, helped by the fact a couple in their ranks were already familiar with my work. I’ve also had a surfeit of time on my hands, which I’ve mostly spent researching and writing. There are some interesting times ahead for the AUNZBL, times which the official histories only skim over.

But back to the here and now.

I will admit I don’t totally understand everything that’s happened or is happening. The crux of it all is that I may have unwittingly found myself in the middle of a war. Not an official war, not yet, at least, but a war nonetheless. Mars is independent, Luna also, and most of the rest of the solar system self-governs in all but name. However, the new colonies, one of which I’m heading to now, are still very much under the thumb of this Solar System, despite their distance apart. It reminds me of snippets of ancient history learned back at school, of North America straining under the yoke of Great Britain before eventually breaking free.

At this stage though, this war is being fought quietly, almost passive aggressively. My late captain may have been involved on the New Colonies side, or he may have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don’t know either way, and nobody I’ve spoken to is willing to say. Certainly most of the people I’ve met since are just your run of the mill ‘entrepreneurs,’ a fancy term for traffickers and all the other shady types operating just beyond the tentacles of the Solar governments. Whatever the case, Captain and the rest of our slaughtered crew were the first public casualties of this brewing conflict, even if I still don’t know which side did the killing.

Lupo and I are witnesses, and while the recordings Captain sent across are no longer in our possession, our safety is supposedly still of the utmost importance.

If I sound sceptical, that’s because I am.

Lupo’s fallen in love with the idea of being a revolutionary. I haven’t. And I don’t think we are revolutionaries, in all honesty. I think we’re patsies, though I’m not quite sure of what or who. I’ve been practicing my gunplay when I haven’t been writing. Just in case.

A brief (hopefully) recap: There was a ship on our tail. It got close enough to open fire but I spotted it coming a few hundred thousand kilometres away, having also discovered that our A-class was severely modified. One of those mods was a complex weapons system, which I didn’t use. We also had a scramble-hull, which I did activate, though no missiles got close enough to see if it actually worked as advertised. What I did make use of were several chaff-boxes. They distracted the missiles nicely, which gave enough time for the other ships that’d tight-beamed me with codes our system translated as ‘friendly’ to arrive.

Our pursuer didn’t stick around and our rescuers didn’t give chase. “One on one, it would’ve eaten us up,” I was told later. “Better to give a show of force, avoid a firefight and get you to safety.”

We were thankful. We followed the ships back to their smuggler scoop, which was far more palatial than I’d imagined, where we then went through what can only be described as an intense debrief before being placed under house arrest. Not that it was described to us as such but being confined to quarters with guards stationed outside can’t really be anything else.

Several days later we were given free run of the scoop. It was basically a small town, complete with shops, bars and, strangely, a chapel. “For weddings,” a bartender told me with a wink. Organized religion might not particularly exist anymore but apparently smugglers still liked getting married in a holy place.

A week or so later we began the pattern of the last few months: get shipped from place to place like illicit cargo, stay out of sight, repeat process, get told very little. The only constant has been my access to the archives which, as mentioned, I fought to get. The access was slow at times, as they bounced my signal off a ton of locations to keep us hidden, but I was happy for it, and especially now as I won’t have access to any of the Sol nets for the foreseeable future.

I don't know what the future holds. My anger has built steadily alongside my confusion and it's all I can do not to act stupidly. But one can only wait out a situation so long. However, I won't be the only one with time on my hands during this trip so perhaps I will be able to put the pieces of the puzzle together before we arrive at our destination.

If not, things may very well explode.
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