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Perth stays hot during Week 9 of Australian League

Special to MLB.com

The ninth week of Australian Baseball League action saw the Adelaide Bite and Canberra Cavalry split a four-game series while the Sydney Blue Sox and Brisbane Bandits split their four-game set as well. The Perth Heat, meanwhile, remained on top of the standings after taking three of four from the Melbourne Aces.

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Perth set the tone for its series victory with another strong start from Jack Frawley in the opener. Frawley improved to 4-2 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.30 by holding the Aces to just one run on eight hits in seven innings.

The ninth week of Australian Baseball League action saw the Adelaide Bite and Canberra Cavalry split a four-game series while the Sydney Blue Sox and Brisbane Bandits split their four-game set as well. The Perth Heat, meanwhile, remained on top of the standings after taking three of four from the Melbourne Aces.

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Perth set the tone for its series victory with another strong start from Jack Frawley in the opener. Frawley improved to 4-2 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.30 by holding the Aces to just one run on eight hits in seven innings.

Joe Burns of the Aces turned in an even stronger start the following night, but was denied a victory after the bullpen gave up four runs in the eighth. Burns, a Rangers prospect, allowed one hit and one walk in seven sparkling innings, as he continues his seamless transition from life-long reliever to starter. Burns fanned six and has racked up 40 strikeouts in 45 innings while walking just six on the season.

Both teams received major offensive contributions from up and down their rosters, but no one did more damage than Perth's Brandon Tripp. The former Phillies prospect went 8-for-17 with a pair of home runs and seven RBIs.

Padres prospect Corey Adamson, a 21-year-old center fielder, was 7-for-17 in the series with at least one hit in each game, two RBIs and a stolen base. Adamson is hitting .359 over his last 10 games with five stolen bases.

Orioles prospect Tucker Nathans and Braves farmhand Matt Kennelly both delivered at least one hit in each game for Perth. Nathans added four RBIs and two stolen bases and Kennelly drove in five to go along with his fifth home run of the season.

For the Aces, 20-year-old Rays prospect Darryl George had a breakout weekend, going 9-for-18 with three doubles and two stolen bases. George, an All-Star for the Hudson Valley Renegades of the New York Penn League in August, capped his big weekend with a 5-for-6 performance in Monday's finale.

Jared Schlehuber and Justin Trapp, a pair of Royals prospects, each delivered six hits in the series, and both are red hot at the plate. Trapp is riding a nine-game hit streak during which he hit .394. Schlehuber continues to be a solid all-around contributor, hitting .309 with five home runs and 22 RBIs in 30 games.

Ryan Casteel and Tyler Massey, both of the Rockies system, also made a strong showing for the Aces with Massey hitting safely in all four games and Casteel chipping in with five hits including his league leading ninth home run.

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In Canberra's series against the Adelaide Bite, Jon Berti again showed why he is the top leadoff hitter in the ABL. Berti, a Blue Jays prospect, went 7-for-17 in the series to raise his average to .295, while adding four RBIs, two steals and extending his hit streak to seven games. Berti now leads the ABL in stolen bases with 20, and in runs scored with 32.

Michael Crouse, another Blue Jays prospect, returned from injury with a 3-for-3 day on Saturday that included two home runs and a double, while fellow Toronto Minor Leaguer Shane Opitz collected four RBIs on three hits during the series.

On the mound, former St. Louis Cardinals prospect Ethan Cole turned in the strongest start for Canberra, allowing one run on four hits over six innings while striking out seven.

For Adelaide, Taiwanese pitcher Fu-Te Ni earned his second victory of the season. The Taiwanese former Major Leaguer allowed one run on two hits in three innings of relief work. After nine appearances in the ABL, Ni is 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA having allowed just two runs on nine hits in 20 innings.

Blake Smith of the Dodgers continued to be a story for Adelaide, as the former second-round pick worked four scoreless innings in two appearances. Smith has not been scored upon in any of his last nine outings. The righty allowed one hit in four innings over the weekend, and has given up a total of six hits in 18 innings in the ABL this season. After 12 appearances, Smith is 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA, holding opposing hitters to a .109 batting average.

Chris Jacobs, another Dodgers prospect, supplied the Bite's power in the series by connecting for three home runs and driving in seven. Joe Sclafani of the Astros contributed with five hits (four doubles), four RBIs and a stolen base.

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In Sydney, Angels prospect Aaron Sookee turned in the pitching performance of the weekend, holding the Brisbane Bandits to just three hits in a complete game shutout. The right-hander fanned five in the process and improved to 3-4 on the season while lowering his ERA to 2.45.

Sookee needed to be nearly perfect, as he outdueled Cubs prospect Ryan Searle in the 1-0 victory. Searle was tagged with his first loss of the season after allowing one run on four hits and one walk in seven innings. Searle's record sits at 3-1 and his ERA at 1.24 after four starts in the ABL this season.

Guy Edmonds, Sookee's catcher, took Searle deep for the lone run in that contest, and it was his second home run in as many weekends. The 20-year-old Rangers prospect is batting .296 over his last 10 games with the two home runs and an OPS of .997.

Jacob May, the No. 15 prospect of the White Sox, stole three bases in the series and hit safely in all three games he started for Sydney. Marcus Bradley, meanwhile, led all players with eight hits in the series. A 49th-round pick of the Indians in 2010, Bradley is hitting .339 in 18 games with the Brisbane Bandits, and is currently riding a 10-game hit streak.

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With only four weekends of play remaining before the postseason, seven games separate first-place Perth and last-place Brisbane while only three games separate the four teams battling for the final playoff berth.

Craig Durham is a contributor to MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.