State League players have given the Sydney Blue Sox a run for their money as they finalise preparations for the 2017-18 Australian Baseball League season.
With players pulled from across the competition, Baulkham Hills’ Matt Martinson and Jarad Beileiter lined up for the State League All-Stars on Saturday night.
“For me, it’s a pretty big honour,” Martinson, 18, said before the match.
“I didn’t think I’d be selected this year because I’ve taken quite a bit of time out to study for my HSC but I was lucky enough to be selected.
“I’m pretty keen to show the Blue Sox how I am and what I can do.”
Ultimately the Blue Sox were too strong and claimed a 4-1 win.
It also meant the Blue Sox retained the Terry Lewis Cup in the annual fixture.
While the experience was a positive one for Martinson and getting a taste of professional baseball, he is looking into his next step.
“I’ve been looking at college quite a bit – I don’t know if I’m looking too much at getting signed by a team,” he said.
“I’d like to go to college and get an education in the US and see where I go from there.
“I’m just getting back into baseball now [after the HSC] and I’m doing pretty well this year.”
For the Blue Sox, the weekend was a chance to gear up for the new season.
Following the match against the State League All-Stars on Saturday, Sydney trounced the State League Imports 8-0 on Sunday afternoon.
The Hills is well represented in the Blue Sox team with Jacob Younis born and raised in the area.
The 24-year-old infielder said the Sox were better placed this season with more experienced recruits.
“You’ve got AA and AAA guys who have a lot of experience and you just feed off that,” he said.
“There’s a good vibe in the clubhouse this year I think Tony [coach Harris] brings with him.
“There are a lot of changes happening and hopefully it works for the best.”
Former Olympian Gavin Fingleson is a new recruit to the Blue Sox in 2017-18 and said it was a good hitout to start the season.
“The weekend was good, the new imports got out here and got some at bats, it was good to see the team gel pretty quickly over the two games,” he said. “It’s a good vibe in here and good group of guys.”
Fingleson has been out of baseball for the past eight years but the 2004 Olympic silver medalist is looking to bring all he has learned over the years into the Blue Sox dugout.
“I hope to bring a little bit of experience, a change of culture from what they’re used to in the past and a little bit of leadership as well,” he said. “I’m a 41-year-old kid so I want to bring the fun back into it.”
The Blue Sox had a disappointing season in 2016-17, finishing fifth and missed the finals for the second straight season.
The Sydney Blue Sox kick off the ABL season at home against the Adelaide Bite in a four-match series with games at Blacktown International Sportspark starting at 7.30pm on Friday.