The Brisbane Bandits finished off the first Australian Baseball League three-peat
An Australian Baseball League team made history on Sunday morning while most baseball fans were sleeping. Since the league's inaugural 2010-11 season, no club had won three consecutive championships. The Perth Heat came close twice, as they won back-to-back titles on two separate occasions before falling short in year three.
Then, along came the Brisbane Bandits. On Feb. 6, 2016, the Bandits broke through to win their first ABL championship by sweeping the Adelaide Bite. Last year, they got the brooms out again and defended their title against the Melbourne Aces.
This season has presented a tougher challenge, as they needed a walk-off blast by David Sutherland just to reach the ABL Championship Series again. Once there, they promptly fell behind in the best-of-three by falling to the Canberra Cavalry in Game 1. They rebounded with a fury, pummeling Canberra, 12-2, in Game 2 and breaking out the lumber early in the decisive Game 3:
Adam Weisenburger was the Bandits' No. 9 hitter, but it didn't matter -- his second-inning dinger put the Bandits in front, 3-0. Former Major Leaguer Travis Blackley made the lead stand up, twirling six shutout innings of one-hit ball.
The bottom of the sixth brought some tension, though, as the Bandits' Mitch Nilsson crushed a tape-measure shot off Frank Gailey to make it 4-0. Gailey then drilled Andrew Campbell and the benches emptied:
The two teams scuffled again when Campbell was caught stealing to end the inning.
When the dust settled, the Bandits got back to business and completed their three-peat with a 4-2 victory. Closer Ryan Searle got Cameron Warner to dribble a grounder toward third baseman Chih-Sheng Lin, who fired to Sutherland at first for the final out:
Three-peats are no easy task -- just ask the 1972-74 A's and 1998-2000 Yankees. Now, the Bandits can say that they're a member of this elite club.