Baseball: Auckland Tuatara on brink of elimination after losing semi-final opener to Melbourne Aces

Auckland Tuatara are in must-win mode, after losing game one of their Australian Baseball League (ABL) semi-finals series against the Melbourne Aces. 

In a tight contest, the Aces came out on top 5-4 at Melbourne Ballpark and now are now one win away from the championship series. 

The Tuatara must win the remaining two games of the series to make the championship series. Both games would take place at North Harbour Stadium, where the Aces swept aside the Tuatara earlier this season. 

The Tuatara were left to rue a costly four-run second inning, which proved the difference, as the Aces erased an early Auckland score. 

Pitcher Kyohei Muranaka battled hard for the visitors, but made a couple of errors in that second inning, while he also wasn't helped by his defence.

Manager Steve Mintz.
Manager Steve Mintz. Photo credit: Photosport

The Tuatara got run production out of their lower order - Andrew Marck and Bas Nooij collected a pair of hits each, with the latter driving in two runs. Kris Richards and Te Wera Bishop also had runners batted-in.

"Muranaka didn't have his best stuff tonight, he couldn’t get his fastball inside," said disappointed Tuatara manager Stephen Mintz.

"He got into a bit of a jam in the second and we made a couple of errors in that inning.

"I thought we fought hard to stay in the game and we did well to get back into having a shot at winning that at the end there."

With the series now heading to Auckland, Mintz is challenging home fans to get behind his team.

"This was always going to be difficult, but they have to beat us twice, and now we get to go back to Auckland and try and get a couple of wins at home.

"I challenge everyone in Auckland to come out and support us. I would love to see 5000 people there, so we can show the ABL what baseball in New Zealand is all about."

The Tuatara will need to win game two on Saturday to force a deciding third game on Sunday, if their second season in the ABL is to continue.