Baseball: Auckland Tuatara qualify for ABL playoffs after win over Brisbane Bandits

The Auckland Tuatara are into the Australian Baseball League playoffs for the first time, after a nail-biting 1-0 win over the Brisbane Bandits at North Harbour Stadium.

In front of a record crowd of more than 2300 fans, Kent Blackstone hit the winning run in the fourth inning, which was enough for the Tuatara to secure victory and eliminate the four-time defending champions from playoff contention. 

"After everything we have been through this season, to give the people of Auckland this win is so satisfying," said a tearful Tuatara manager Steve Mintz. "This is so special." 

After getting blown out in the first two games, losing 10-0 and 12-6, the pressure was on the Tuatara, who just needed one win in this series to secure a playoff spot. 

The Tuatara rode a spectacular start from former Major League pitcher Josh Collmenter, who fired a complete game shut-out in an inspirational performance that lifted the rest of his side.

After second baseman Blackstone scored for Auckland, the Bandits came close to drawing level but right fielder Kris Richards made a leaping play on the fence to rob Brisbane's David Sutherland of his own home run.

Collmenter calmly closed the game out to secure the home side a playoff berth.

The win snapped a six-game losing streak for Auckland. 

While the Tuatara have secured a playoff spot, there is still lots to play for in their Sunday's series finale. 

Auckland must beat Brisbane or hope the Canberra Cavalry lose to the Sydney Blue Sox to top the northeast division and avoid the wildcard playoff. 

Sunday's game gets underway at 1pm at North Harbour Stadium. 

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz