1997-1998 Australian Baseball League
The 1997-1998 season gave the Australian Baseball League its biggest offensive fireworks and only three-time champion.
The Melbourne Reds won the title following a close five-team chase in the regular season. They captured 2 of 3 in a round-robin playoff and then beat the Gold Coast Cougars 4-3 and 4-0 in the championship. In both contests, Melbourne 3B Myles Barnden hit a homer - a 3-run shot in game two. Jason Beverlin was the ace pitcher in the finale, throwing six goose eggs after a 2-4, 6.22 regular season. He defeated Red Sox farmhand Paxton Crawford (4-3, 5.26). The only All-Star on Melbourne was 2B Adam Burton, the league leader with 66 runs. Burton hit .388 (second in the league), smacked 21 homers and stole 18 bases.
The biggest star of the season was 3B Brendan Kingman of the Sydney Storm. Kingman hit .487 with 28 HR and 66 RBI for a Triple Crown, setting league records in slugging (1.083), homers, average and RBI.
Other productive players were Perth's Greg Jelks (.379, 21 HR), Brisbane's Jeff Williams (4-2, 2.08, the ERA leader) and Pitcher of the Year Erick Nelson (7-1, 2.83). Future major leaguer Trent Durrington led with 28 stolen bases.
- Melbourne Monarchs, 32-20
- Sydney Storm, 32-22
- Melbourne Reds, 30-21
- Gold Coast Cougars, 31-22
- Perth Heat, 30-23
- Adelaide Giants, 26-27
- Brisbane Bandits, 20-33
- Hunter Eagles, 10-43
Playoffs: Melbourne Reds 2-1, Gold Coast 2-1, Melbourne Monarchs 1-2, Sydney 1-2 in the round-robin. In the finals, Melbourne Reds def. Gold Coast, 2 games to 0.
Sources: 1999 Baseball Almanac, Flintoff and Dunn
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