Bandits hit first place on ABL ladder

PROOF the Brisbane Bandits could finally be the real deal this season almost went unnoticed in game two of their recent four-game home stand against the Melbourne Aces.

The Bandits won that game 6-5, and took out the series 3-1.

But coach Dave Nilsson benched star American import CJ Beattie from game two after the sixth inning, replacing him at third base with Ryan Battaglia.

Beattie skied a fly ball into the lights at Holloway Field and the regulation play was dropped by Aces import Kellin Deglan, with Beattie advancing.

But Nilsson took Beattie out for ball-watching and slow running … and the message soon hit home.

The very next night, Beattie showed great hustle to get to third base on a dribbled shot down the left-field line, with Aces outfielder Josh Hendricks committing an error on a forward dive, helping him advance.

An Andrew Campbell sacrifice fly then saw Beattie scamper home, tying up the game at 1-all.

Star Brisbane product Logan Wade's two-run homer, a switch-hit left-hand shot against right-hander Kyle Heckathorn in the bottom of the eighth, then gave the hosts a 4-3 lead which they didn't surrender.

The Bandits then won 12-6 on Sunday, Wade producing his second homer of the series and third of the season, after losing 7-6 in the first game of the home stand.

Brought in as coach this summer, Nilsson promised in the pre-season that he would not accept mediocrity, after the team finished last in 2013/14.

And he has already made the tough decisions required to stand by that promise, the Bandits now in first place with eight wins and four losses.

Wade, who shrugged off a dislocated shoulder for the Cedar Rapids Kernels over the American summer to play the majority of his Class-A team's season, soon noticed the change in attitude, which Nilsson has brought to the Bandits this summer.

"Yeah (Beattie got benched in game two) but then you saw CJ hit that ball to left field and he got to third base," Wade told APN.

"It just shows that you've always got to hustle and play the game hard.

"And if you don't want to do it, then you're out."

Wade said Nilsson appears to have mastered bringing in a calm demeanour, as well as making the ruthless decisions when needed.

"He's calm, but at times when the game's on the line or when some pressure's on, he comes up and talks to everyone," Wade said.

"There's a time and a place for being calm, and a time and place for ramping things up."

Game two saw Taiwanese import pitcher and starter Chen-Hua Lin impress with plenty of ball movement over the plate, giving up three runs over 5.2 innings.

Lin got off his international flight at 11.30am on November 2, and just two hours later the EDA Rhinos recruit was throwing in Brisbane's bullpen for the first time.

There could be more Taiwanese talent to come, according to Nilsson.

"The Taiwanese professional league, they're interested in this league, and we've built some relationships here in town through the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce," Nilsson said.

"(Bandits CEO) Mark Ready and myself met one of their attaches and it all fell into place.

"I knew he (Lin) would be clean. He's an older guy, so you can see it in his eyes that he's here for the challenge.

"He has good combinations and the key is he can work the combinations and it keeps the hitters off balance."



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