Joey Rickard (left)
Joey Rickard (left)

Joey Rickard can hold head high after tough season

THE Brisbane Bandits have not had too much to celebrate this year after finishing bottom of the ABL ladder.

But 22-year-old American recruit Joey Rickard can leave these shores with plenty of fond memories.

Part of a batting line-up that largely failed to fire, Rickard had the Queensland team's best average, with .287.

That put him 14th overall in the competition.

And the athletic youngster finished with 14 stolen bases - the fourth best in the league.

He finished his impressive stint Down Under by crushing the walk-off home run in a 13-inning epic against Canberra Cavalry pitcher Chris Motta in Brisbane last Friday night.

The Bandits won that game 4-3 on their way to splitting the four-game series 2-all against the defending champions.

"That was one of the best moments of my life. It was such a rush. All my teammates were behind me and it was a great team win," Rickard said.

"It came down to that, but it was a great team effort to get the win.

"I'm 22 years old and I've travelled all over to play baseball. It's my love and I've got no complaints."

The plane trip back to the US is sure to be a joyful one for Rickard, and his Bandits teammates, Justin O'Conner and Patrick Leonard.

All three played together at Class-A team Bowling Green Hot Rods, part of the Tampa Bay Rays' system, before coming to Australia.

O'Conner homered in the bottom of the eighth inning, during game three against the Cavs on Saturday night, to give his team a 3-2 win.

In a tough season for O'Conner it was a bright ending, after he averaged .200 over the Australian summer.

"I'm really happy for him - everybody knows he has the power. I played with him all of last year. He really picked us up," Rickard said.

"We've been together for almost a year straight - everyday we see each other at the ballpark and we help each other out.

"I've had a great time out here and if I get the opportunity to do it again I'd be honoured."

The first game of the three-match preliminary finals series is in Canberra tonight, with the Cavalry to host the Blue Sox.

The series winner will travel to Perth to take part in the three-game grand final series.

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