by Eric Balnar
It’s finally here. The most talented local baseball competition in Australia begins Wednesday night at 6:00PM with a double header of baseball games at West Beach.
After a long off-season, the formation of the SLBA, a frantic marquee player signing period, a fantastic draft night and even a team training or two we finally get to play ball.
Entry is free, the bar is open, the canteen is running and the quality of competition will be excellent.
Here’s what you need to know for Wednesday’s game. If you’re a little confused about what the Super League is, use the tabs above or scroll down to the bottom of this article. We’ve done our best to brief you there.
Let’s dig in.
GAME 1 – Dunmark Crushers @ Carp
First Pitch: 6:00PM (7-innings or 2 hours)
Live stream link: CLICK HERE.
There may be some growing pains for all teams adjusting to unique rules. Pitchers can’t throw for more than 40 pitches or two innings (whichever comes first), games are shorter, and there are speed up rules. The manager that makes the best adjustments early may win the game.
The Pitching: The Crushers have a number of pure arms to use. They’ll likely go with import David Carroll (Gawler) for the first couple innings and then try to get to closer Anthony Herrera (Port Adelaide) to close it out. They’ll rely on a mix of arms like West Torrens’ Daniel Chapman, Woodville’s Jordy Grose and Sturt’s Josh Tindall to navigate them in the middle innings.
For the Carp it is quality young arm after quality young arm. Import marquee player Tyler Thompson is not in Australia for the game yet but Southern Districts stalwart and Bite starter Nick Hutchings will have a spot start to tune up for the U23 World Cup. After Hutch, young Port Adelaide gun Tyson McKee will likely eat a couple innings. Both Hutchings and Mckee had two of the lowest ERA’s in the SABL last season.
Ryan Duncan (East Torrens), Nathan Vanderlinden (West Torrens) and Wilson Lee (Sturt) are all Adelaide Bite pitchers who are good options for coach Paul Green. Nick Carfora (Kensington) and Tom Norley (Golden Grove) are solid middle relievers too. Arms are not an issue for the Carp.
The Batting: The Carp suffer instantly with no Curtis Mead (West Torrens) in the line up. The Bite star is away in the USA at “fall ball” with the Detroit Tigers. Veteran Angus Roeger (Sturt, Bite) will be relied upon to anchor the middle of the line up. Outside of Angus a school of young bats like Harry Knuckey, Ben Keeping and Mason Clavell will have to shoulder the load. While there is no ‘superstar’ there are a lot of reliable bats and young, hungry and eager players in the line up.
The Crushers have a solid veteran core to build off of. You’d expect longtime Bite middle infield Josh Cakebread and Jeremy Cresswell (Goodwood) to lead off. In the middle of the line up Landon Hernandez, Ben Andrews and Nick Talbot can crush it with the best of them. The Carp will have to focus on shutting down that early part of the line up.
Eric’s Hot Tip: This game could be really close and is a great showcase for the close game. Both teams have a lot of balance and intriguing pitching options. While some of the chatter may have the Crushers as favourite’s I am going to tip the Carp. I think the fish have an awesome 1-2 punch in Nick Hutchings and Tyson McKee. In a shortened game if they can limit the damage and get some balanced offense they’ll win the game.
Score prediction: Carp 4, Crushers 3
GAME 2 – Wasps @ Clippers
First Pitch: 8:30PM (7-innings or 2 hours)
Live stream link: CLICK HERE.
This could be a slugfest. Both teams drafted really well with players who can hit the ball a mile. The Clippers have two-time defending Capps Medalist Dylan Brammer on their team, while the Wasps have one of the best South Australian players ever in Stefan Welch on their side.
The Pitching: The Wasps will start with Tom Fitzgerald (Kensington) and likely finish with Bite reliever Jackson Brebner-Russ (Sturt). In between there they have a few options like Andrew Chesterton (Henley), Matt Watkins (Goodwood), Matt Rabe (Sturt) and William Burke (Sturt).
The Clippers will start with Chris Burkholder (Glenelg) if he is able to pitch after arriving from winning a championship in the Czech Republic on the weekend. Local pitchers Connor Hill (Glenelg), Tyler Chappell (Sturt) will all need to be on their game to keep the Wasps bats at bay.
The Batting: Does the Wasps middle of the line up ever sting! Stefan Welch, Tyrone Hambly (West Torrens) and Austin Gallagher (Kensington) are all massive home run threats. Import Taylor Travess (West Torrens) is expected to be an on-base machine, while guys like Tom McGarry and Mitch Lightbody are all good at getting on too.
The Clippers have Terrell Joyce (Sturt) in the middle of the line-up who is fresh off hitting a clutch home run in the Czech Extra-Liga Grand Final. But he is literally due to arrive Tuesday or Wednesday so he may be jet-lagged. Evan LeBlanc hit two home runs in Kensington’s opener over the weekend and Jordan McArdle is an Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate who can go long. Dylan Brammer (Sturt) hit .406 last season in the SABL while Dylan Brammer has won the last two league MVPs.
There’s so much talent on all sides.
Eric’s Hot Tip: It feels like it could be the battle of the bats. This one is only going to be fun for the fans. I think both teams will come out slugging but I’m really liking the reliability of the Welch-Gallagher-Hambly connection. It really could go any way but for the sake of making a pick I’m going the Wasps in a tie-breaker after a see-saw battle.
As usual, I’ll probably be totally wrong with any of my picks!
Score prediction: Wasps 8, Clippers 6 (tie-breaker)
What is the Super League? If you haven’t heard of Super League Baseball Adelaide we forgive you. It’s Baseball South Australia’s new high performance competition and it’s going to be a lot of fun. Think a fantasy baseball draft of local Adelaide baseball players in real life.
There are four teams who drafted the best players across 13 metropolitan baseball clubs in South Australia. Each team is run by a prolific coach and general manager combination. The teams – the Carp, Crushers, Clippers and Wasps – are fun and the uniforms are funky.
The rules are also modified. Each game will be played in seven innings or two hours or less. Pitchers can’t throw more than 40 pitches or six outs (whichever comes first). There are speed up rules which encourage pace of play.
It’s short, snappy, and features the best baseball players across SA. It’s a great opportunity to give emerging young talent another competition an avenue to strut their stuff vs. elite talent in this state.
Who are the teams? How were they formed?
What a great question! The Crushers, Carp, Clippers and Wasps were all formed via the Super League Draft.
BaseballSA asked each coach and general manager to recruit four ‘Marquee’ players to build their club around. They could choose any player they wanted but they could not have more than two players from any one club.
Meanwhile, the baseball community was registering for an SLBA draft. Over 120 players nominated to be drafted with only 17 remaining spots on each team to be build. Being drafted was not a given. On September 26 we held a draft and voila – the teams were formed.
The initial marquee player announcement is here, but you probably want to know who the teams are. Click the links below and find out some more about each!
– Crushers (Coach: Scott Gladstone, GM: Michael Dunn)
– Clippers (Coach: Paul Mildren, GM: Chris Lawson)
– Wasps (Coach: Adrian Chenoweth, GM: Scott Pratt)
– Carp (Coach: Paul Green, GM: Mark Haylock)