Australia Baseball League Playoffs Start Friday

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

The 2024 Australian Baseball League season is down to the final four teams. The Adelaide Giants, Perth Heat, Brisbane Bandits, and Melbourne Aces are the organizations that have qualified for the postseason.  

The Giants finished the regular season with the best record, 29-11, in the ABL and will face the fourth-seed Melbourne Aces, who finished 21-19, in the semi-finals. The No. 2-seed Perth Heat (24-15) will battle the three-seed Brisbane Bandits( 22-18).  

Both semifinal series will be three-game sets and will be played from Jan. 26-28. The winners of each series will face off in the best-of-three Australian Baseball League Championship Series from Feb. 2-4.  

Adelaide Giants vs. Melbourne Aces – Both teams have enough offensive firepower to win this series. The Giants are led by second baseman Nick Ward and left fielder Cade Fergus, who finished the regular season with 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts. In 38 games, Ward had 26 RBI and led the team with a .915 OPS.  

In the other dugout, the Aces have two experienced veterans, first baseman Greg Bird and shortstop Robbie Glendinning.  Bird played four seasons with the New York Yankees and is no stranger to postseason heroics, hitting a go-ahead solo home run off Cleveland Guardians reliever Andrew Miller in game three of the 2017 American League Division Series. Bird hit 11 home runs with 40 RBI during the regular season and has the potential to lead the Aces to the championship.  

Glendinning has played five seasons in the ABL and played for the Australian national team in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. His experience and veteran leadership can help his team advance to the next round.  

On the mound, it may be Adelaide who has the advantage. Left-handed pitcher Lachlan Wells went 6-0 and posted a 0.94 ERA in nine starts for the Giants, striking out 63 in the process. His performance earned him a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, and he should start game one for the Giants.  

Lewis Thorpe (3.60 ERA) and Gunnar Kines (4.80 ERA) are possible game-one starters for the Aces.  

Series Schedule (Adelaide Giants Host All Three Games)  
Game One – Friday, Jan. 26 at 3 a.m. ET  
Game Two – Saturday, Jan. 27 at 3 a.m. ET  
Game Three – Sunday, Jan. 28 at 1 a.m. ET  

Brisbane Bandits vs. Perth Heat – The Bandits travel to Perth to take on ABL’s all-time home-run leader Tim Kennelly and the Heat.  

Brisbane lost both games of a doubleheader this past Friday against the Giants but has a few days to regroup before the playoffs. Infielder Alex Skepton is a player to watch out for in the series. He hit eight home runs during the regular season and posted a 1.014 OPS. One concern for the Brisbane hitters is limiting strikeouts. The offense struck out 366 times during the regular season, 10 more times than the last-place Sydney Blue Sox.  

The Bandits’ most significant concern should be the potent Heat lineup, which features ABL stars Alex Hall and Tim Kennelly. Both players finished with an OPS above .800 and are seasoned veterans with the Heat.  

The deciding factor may come down to limiting home runs. The Brisbane pitching staff allowed 50 during the regular season, while the Heat allowed just 24. Tyler Beardsley (2.21 ERA in 10 starts) is a candidate to start game one for the Heat, while Ryan Bollinger or Brian Fitzpatrick could get the nod for Brisbane.  

Series Schedule (Perth Heat Host All Three Games)  
Game One – Friday, Jan. 26 at 3 a.m. ET  
Game Two – Saturday, Jan. 27 at 3 a.m. ET  
Game Three – Sunday, Jan. 28 at 1:30 a.m. ET  

Australian Baseball League Games can be streamed on the iPhone and Android App Baseball+.  

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