A final inning come back and a three-run shot by outfielder Kim Won-seok have powered the Auckland Tuatara to a crucial 7-4 win over the defending champion Bandits in Brisbane on Friday night.
A heavy rainstorm late in the day forced a delay of an hour and a half, which brought into play the local curfew rules that saw the game last just seven innings.
The Tuatara opened the scoring in the first when Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Jared Walker drove in Yonny Hernandez. The visitors added two more in the fourth with Jonny Homza and Andrew Marck driving them in.
Starter Jared Koenig was impressive once again for the Tuatara, breezing through four innings before running into problems in the fifth.
The Bandits scored three in the fifth to tie the game and then went ahead in the sixth.
Walker doubled to centre to score the tying run in the top of the seventh before Kim took closer Ryan Searle – the all-time ABL saves leader – deep to blow it open.
Manager Stephen Mintz had one eye on the weather and one on the clock with no inning able to start after 9.55pm local time.
“We just went with how the game went,” Mintz said of his strategy. “It was a struggle for Koenig tonight – he didn’t have his best stuff. The Bandits were able to get to him in that last inning.
“You keep your eye on the clock and they got ahead and so we knew that was going to be our last inning.
“Then Kim ran into that pitch and we were able to secure it.”
After a tough start to the season the Kiwi franchise picked up a 3-1 series win at home against the Canberra Cavalry last weekend and draw level 1-1 in this series against the four-time defending champions.
It is the first time the Bandits have lost a game at home this season.
“We are getting there,” Mintz said. “It was a very tough start for us.
“We are fighting hard. This league is tough and this is a tough place to win.”
The two sides meet in a double-header on Saturday.