(Photo by Kenta Harada/Getty Images)
By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
Round seven of the Australian Baseball League concluded on December 29, and round eight begins on Wednesday, January 3, with a three-game slate.
The Adelaide Giants are first in the ABL standings with a win-loss record of 18-10, but the second-place Brisbane Bandits (17-11) and third-place Perth Heat (16-11) are close behind. Less than two games separate the first-place Giants and third-place Heat heading into round eight.
The Melbourne Aces (14-14), Sydney Blue Sox (10-18), and Canberra Cavalry (8-19) currently stand in fourth, fifth, and sixth place in the standings.
Perth’s Tim Kennelly Plays in his 400th ABL Game – Third baseman and outfielder Tim Kennelly played in his 400th career ABL game during round seven of the ABL season, the most of any player in Australian Baseball League history.
Not only did Kennelly set the record for most games played in ABL history, but he did it in style. The 37-year-old went 10-for-15 at the plate in four games in the last series against the Cavalry and is hitting .274 with a .742 OPS this season for the Heat. His recent performance is even more impressive because he started the series 10-for-10 before recording an out.
Kennelly has represented Australia thrice in the World Baseball Classic in 2013, 2017, and 2023. He also played for Australia in the 2009 Baseball World Cup and 2019 WBSC Premier12.
Shohei Ohtani or Connor MacDonald? – Connor MacDonald of the Brisbane Bandits is a dual threat on the diamond in the ABL, hitting .364 with two home runs in 12 plate appearances and posting a 3.95 ERA in 27.1 innings on the mound.
This season is his first in the ABL since appearing in eight games during the 2020-21 season for the Sydney Blue Sox. MacDonald threw four combined innings for the Blue Sox from 2017-21, but Brisbane may have unlocked his true potential as a pitcher. He has made seven starts for the Bandits thus far and is a reliable arm for the club, who also hits for power.
Melbourne Aces Sign RHP Randy Wynne – On December 26, the Melbourne Aces announced they had signed right-handed pitcher Randy Wynne, who made his Major League Baseball debut with the Cincinnati Reds during the 2023 season.
Wynne was undrafted from Missouri Baptist University but signed with the Reds in 2019. Although he struggled in 29 games (6.57 ERA) in 2023 for Triple-A Louisville, the Reds promoted him to MLB. He made just one appearance for Cincinnati and allowed one earned run and three hits in 2.1 innings in a loss against the Atlanta Braves on June 25.
Wynne went four innings and allowed one earned run with four strikeouts in his first appearance for the Aces in round seven.
Andrick Nava Continues to Rake for Adelaide – Philadelphia Phillies farmhand Andrick Nava is putting together a great offensive season for the Adelaide Giants. The catcher from Venezuela is hitting .304 on the season with a .885 OPS. He is tied for third in the ABL with five home runs. Greg Bird of the Melbourne Aces is the league leader with seven.
Nava hit two home runs during round seven against Melbourne and has reached as high as Single-A in the Phillies minor league system. In 64 games with High-A Jersey Shore in 2023, the 22-year-old hit .221 with three home runs and 27 RBI in 246 plate appearances.
Upcoming Series Schedule (Round 8) January 3-5
Sydney Blue Sox vs. Melbourne Aces @Melbourne Ballpark (All three games begin at 3 a.m. ET)
Canberra Cavalry vs. Adelaide Giants @Dicolor Australia Stadium (All three games begin at 3:30 a.m. ET)
Perth Heat vs. Brisbane Bandits @Viticon Stadium (All Three Games begin at 3:30 a.m. ET)
Australian Baseball League Games can be streamed on the iPhone and Android App Baseball+.