Former big leaguer Oeltjen stars for Sydney in ABL

Former big leaguer Oeltjen stars for Sydney in ABL

The final week of the Australian Baseball League regular season saw the Perth Heat sweep the Brisbane Bandits to secure a second-place finish and playoff berth. The Sydney Blue Sox secured their fifth consecutive playoff appearance by splitting a series with the Canberra Cavalry, while the first place Adelaide Bite capped their regular season by taking three of four from the Melbourne Aces.

Defending champs leave no doubt

The Perth Heat used a balanced approach to sweep their four-game series with the Brisbane Bandits and finish the regular season with a 28-20 record. The Heat went 12-4 in January to earn home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Second-year Perth shortstop Joey Wong saw a nine-game hitting streak come to a close on Saturday, but the Rockies' prospect finished the season batting .301, including a .419 mark over his last 10 games. Last year's Championship Series MVP appeared in 47 of Perth's 48 games at short, not sitting until the regular-season finale.

Former Major Leaguer Luke Hughes totaled three hits, including a home run in the series, and finished the season with a .352 batting average and 1.039 OPS for Perth.

Braves prospect Matt Kennelly collected three hits of his own in the series, and was one of just two players to appear in all 48 games in the ABL this season.

Heat reliever Jorge Marban shut down the Cavalry over the weekend, earning three saves in three relief appearances in which he did not allow a hit and struck out five. Marban was signed by the Boston Red Sox in December, and finished his first ABL campaign 4-1 with a 2.12 ERA and eight saves. The right-hander struck out 44 in 34 innings and held opponents to a .147 batting average.

All four of Brisbane's Rays prospects finished strong, led by Toronto native Maxx Tissenbaum. The 23-year-old turned in a 10-for-18 performance over the weekend, including a home run and three RBIs. The Bandits catcher hit .340 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs during the season.

Thomas Coyle, the Bandits' second baseman, was 9-for-18 in the series with a home run, five RBIs and a steal, finishing the season with a .333 average. Granden Goetzman capped a strong January with eight hits in the series, and finished the regular season tied for third in the league with nine home runs and fourth in the league with 16 stolen bases.

Johnny Field, the Bandits' center fielder and a Rays fifth-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, finished the season riding a 15-game hitting streak.

Solbach clinches for Sydney

D-backs prospect Markus Solbach dominated the Canberra Cavalry in a 2-1 playoff clinching victory for the Blue Sox on Saturday night in Sydney. The German-born right-hander allowed one run on five hits in the outing to finish the regular season 6-3 with a 4.81 ERA in 13 appearances (12 starts).

Sydney's offense was anchored by former Major Leaguer Trent Oeltjen, who delivered three hits and four RBIs in the series. The Sydney native announced his retirement prior to the series, and leaves an impressive legacy. An outfielder, Oeltjen appeared in 99 Major League games from 2009-11 and 1,290 Minor League games from 2001-2014. While in the Minors, he compiled a lifetime batting average of .294, blasted 84 home runs, and stole 240 bases.

Canberra's Jack Murphy recorded three hits and three RBIs in the series to finish the season as the ABL's RBI king with 37. The 26-year-old Blue Jays farmhand closed out his third season in Canberra with a .353 batting average, good for third in the league.

Rockies prospect Robbie Perkins collected three hits of his own in the series, closing the season with a .302 batting average -- a significant improvement from his .203 mark a season ago.

Huber hangs 'em up for Melbourne

Former Major Leaguer Justin Huber appeared in his final game for the Aces over the weekend, finishing his fifth season in the ABL with a .265 average in 16 games. The Melbourne native appeared in a total of 72 games for the Royals, Padres and Twins from 2005-2009, and included among his Major League accomplishments are home runs off Randy Johnson and Cliff Lee. The 32-year-old will now take over as the general manager of the Melbourne Aces heading into the 2015-2016 season.

Phillies prospect Dylan Cozens and White Sox prospect Adam Engel each delivered seven hits in the series while showcasing their speed for Melbourne. Cozens stole a pair of bases to finish the season with 11, while Engel swiped four bags in the series to finish the season with 18.

Rangers prospect Cody Buckel made his last ABL appearance count, earning his second save of the season with four innings of dominant relief work. The right-hander allowed just two hits and fanned six over four innings. Buckel, who made five starts and 12 appearances overall, finished the season 2-2 with a 2.93 ERA, holding opponents to a .177 batting average in 46 innings for Melbourne.

Scott Wearne appeared at all nine positions for the Aces in Sunday's finale, becoming the first player in the current ABL to accomplish that feat.

The Adelaide Bite finished the regular season 32-16 after taking three of four from the Aces and continued to receive key contributions from their middle infield combination of Brandon Dixon and Chan Moon.

Dixon, a Dodgers prospect, collected five hits, four RBIs and four stolen bases in the series and finished the regular season batting .289 with nine home runs, 30 RBIs and a league-best 21 stolen bases. Moon, an Astros prospect, was 4-for 10 in the series with a pair of RBIs and a pair of stolen bases. The 23-year-old shortstop was second only to Dixon with 20 stolen bases in the regular season.


The ABL playoffs will begin in Sydney on Friday night as the Blue Sox host the Perth Heat in game one of a three-game series before traveling to Perth for games two and three (if necessary) on Saturday. The winner of that series will head to Adelaide to face the Bite in the best of three ABL Championship Series, beginning Friday, Feb. 6.

Craig Durham is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.