Almanac Baseball: Aces Win Claxton Shield

Something strange happened on Friday night. There was a queue for the carpark at Melbourne Ballpark. Stranger still, many hadn’t bothered waiting and parked on the road outside the ground in open defiance of the unbroken line of No Standing signs. Never one to shirk from some token act of rebellion, I too ran the gauntlet in the badlands of Merton St.


Inside the ground, the rows of seats that generally went unoccupied during the home and away filled up rapidly before the first pitch. Turns out we were witnessing the biggest ever crowd for an Aces game. There was a general air of bonhomie as many were expecting an Aces win to kick off the Australian Baseball League Championship Series (ABLCS). The winner of the best-of-three decider would take home the coveted and storied Claxton Shield. The Adelaide Giants were coming off the back of their best season of the ABL so far and a sterling come-from-behind semi final win over Canberra. It had the feeling of a dogfight early culminating in a tight finish. So it proved to be.


The Giants got on the board first in the 3rd inning through an RBI single. In the 6th, the Aces benefited from an error on a simple ground ball to 3rd base. Colin Willis getting on base brought two home. The Aces managed to maintain that one run lead right up to the final frame.


With the bases loaded at the top of the 9th, Cody Mincey landed a big cherry to the lower back of Ben Aklinski. Benny Boy was not happy but he sidled off to first base as the runner came home for the tying score. Mincey didn’t mince words as he yelled at the injured batter something about his esteemed parental lineage I think. Aklinski ran for Mincey and the benches cleared. The ballpark had come alive. The Giants brought one more home before they were done.


Ryan Chafee was brought on to close out the game. He got his first out before giving up a run to tie the game. His teammates willed him on. He got another out. They were getting ready for extra innings. Unfortunately for him, Shane Robinson, the MVP, came to the plate and brought a runner home to get the walkoff. What a night! But the job was only half done.


On Saturday night, the Aces put six runs on the board between the 3rd and 5th innings. The Giants could only respond with one in the 4th and one in the 7th. Home ground advantage for them had not materialised in much the same fashion as it hadn’t for the Tuatara a week prior. The Aces believe in putting teams under pressure early when playing away. It has proven to be extremely effective.


So the playoff picture for the Aces in 2020 reads four from four. It was a great team effort. The combination of minor league journeymen, local warhorses and early season impact from some great Japanese players is not a story we see often in Australian sport. Hopefully we’ll see local young talent in years to come but for the moment let’s revel in the entry that says the Aces are winners of the ABLCS 2020. The Claxton Shield will reside in the spiritual heartland of Australian baseball for at least the next year. It’s OK to be parochial when celebrating a long awaited win – just ask any Richmond supporter.



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Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.


  1. I can relate as a Brisbane Bandits Fan – during the early games no problems with parking yet when the playoffs start its a different story.
    One thing that I wish Baseball would not copy from the rest of the world is that the two teams actually shake hands at the end of the game – I know in the Majors occasionally at the end of the series during the regular season players may shake hands.
    When looking at the two teams at the end of the YouTube highlights there were the Aces making the hay stack of success with the Giants staring into nothingness – even in European football and the NFL there is a recognition of the opponent before the celebration begins there are TWO teams in game lets acknowledge that in Baseball in Australia!!

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