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1998-1999 Australian Baseball League

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The 1998-1999 season was the final one for the Australian Baseball League, which had begun a decade earlier.

The top performer was Melbourne Reds 2B Adam Burton, who hit .372/.469/.723 and led the ABL in slugging, average, runs (39), hits (55) and home runs (14). The former Atlanta Braves farmhand became the only two-time batting titlist in league history and was the All-Star 2B. He was also one RBI shy of the league lead.

All-Star 1B Andrew Scott (.310/.381/.550) of the Adelaide Giants led the league in both RBI (41) and doubles (14, tied with Shane Hogan). OF Vernon Wells of the Sydney Storm hit .284/.337/.462 and went on to one of the best careers from the ABL. Jose Macias of the Gold Coast Cougars led the loop with 20 stolen bases. On the mound, Pat Ahearne (7-3, 2.17) of the Perth Heat led in wins and ERA and was the easy choice as Pitcher of the Year; his team went 10-25 when other hurlers got the decisions. Matt Herges (7-3, 2.52) of Adelaide tied for the win lead and struck out 81 batters, the most. Playing for last-place Perth, Shane Tonkin (1-7, 9 Sv, 5.33) still managed to tie for the ABL lead in saves.

In the playoffs, the sub-.500 Storm stunned the first-place Giants in consecutive games to advance to the finals. In Game One, the Cougars won with two outs in the bottom of the 9th when 3B Paul Gorman homered against Graham Cassel with one on to turn a 7-6 Storm lead into a 8-7 Cougars win. 39-year-old Adrian Meagher got the victory. In Game two, the Cougars scored 8 runs in the sixth and took advantage of 8 Storm errors, 5 by Matthew Buckley to win it 14-8.

The league was sold to a group led by former ABL superstar Dave Nilsson (the all-time OPS leader in the ABL), which renamed it the International Baseball League of Australia.

[edit] Regular Season Standings

  1. Adelaide Giants, 28-17 Manager: Tony Harris
  2. Gold Coast Cougars, 24-20 Manager: Ronny Johnson
  3. Melbourne Monarchs, 22-22 Manager: Jon Deeble
  4. Sydney Storm, 21-22 Manager: Dennis Holmberg
  5. Melbourne Reds, 20-23 Manager: Steve Livesey
  6. Perth Heat, 17-28 Manager: John Tourville

Sources: Flintoff & Dunn Australian Baseball Almanacs, 2000 Baseball Almanac

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