The Melbourne Aces only scored in one inning Saturday, but the six runs that crossed the plate in the fifth were more than enough, as the Aces topped the Auckland Tuatara 6-2 in Auckland, sending the Aces to the Australian Baseball League Championship for the third time in history.
In the fifth, Melbourne collected four hits, drew a walk and a hit batter, with all six runners that reached base scoring.
Outside of the inning, the team was held to six walks and three hits, but the Tuatara were limited to two runs by the Aces pitching staff.
Wes Helsabeck surrendered two runs on three hits in the first, but kept Auckland off the board for the remainder of his outing, allowing just those two runs with two strikeouts over 4.2 innings.
Lars Liguori was the first out of the bullpen for Melbourne, pitching 2.2 scoreless innings, with three strikeouts. Scott Mitchinson followed him and threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
Cody Mincey finished off Auckland 1-2-3 in the ninth, sending the Aces back to the ABL Championship Series with a
Melbourne’s last appearance in the ABLCS came in 2017, when they were swept by the Brisbane Bandits in two games, the second of Brisbane’s four straight Claxton Shield titles.
The first appearance made by the Aces in the ABLCS was in the 2011/12 season, when they lost to the Perth Heat two games to one.
While the Aces have secured a spot in the Championship Series, their opponent is still undecided. They’ll face the winner of the other ABL Semi-Final series, either the Canberra Cavalry or Adelaide Giants. Canberra won the first game of the series at home Friday night, with Adelaide hosting Saturday and Sunday night.
Should Adelaide win the series, Melbourne will host Game 1 of the ABLCS. If Canberra wins the series, Melbourne will host Game 2 and (if necessary) Game 3. When the Aces’ opponent is known, ticket information will be announced.
Story by Melissa Orr