Muskets' finals memories ahead of Windsor welcome
ALMOST two years removed and despite a host of new faces populating both line-ups, the Ipswich Musketeers still remember their crushing back-to-back Greater Brisbane League grand final defeats to Windsor Royals.
Ipswich President Jon Campbell certainly has not forgotten.
"Oh yeah for sure, absolutely" Campbell responded when asked if the Royals rivalry meant more than most.
"Last year we didn't make finals, but the two years before that we played them in the grand final and they beat us both times."
Theirs is a rivalry spanning many seasons and even competitions.
Both ball clubs traditionally supply a number of players to the Brisbane Bandits in the Australian Baseball League each season.
Tonight the Musketeers will be without Bandits stars Andrew Campbell and Wade Dutton.
Windsor will miss four, maybe five of their ABL-listed players.
And although tonight's match at Tivoli is only a regular season fixture, it still holds season-defining implications as both sides fight for top spot entering the season's tail-end.
The Musketeers sit second with two games in-hand on competition leaders Redcliffe.
Early-season frontrunners Windsor are in fourth, one game back from their Ipswich rivals.
Windsor boasts the superior recent head-to-head record, headlined by the two GBL grand final series wins.
But their most recent encounter - a two-leg series at the start of November - was split one win apiece.
"I'm pretty confident we can play well and give it to them," Campbell said of tonight's blockbuster contest.
"We won't have Andrew and Wade, but they'll be fairly weakened without (their Bandits players)."
After a middling 2017-18 campaign, the Musketeers have enjoyed a GBL resurgence this season off the back of the best defensive record in the competition.
A bullpen consisting of Canadian import Fernando Beltran, Swede Pontus Bystrom, Josh Roberts and youngster Billy Cruice has been the big reason why.
"Pitching has been good for us. We've always struggled a little with our pitching, but having Fernando, Pontus and Josh available, and with young Billy stepping up, it gives us more depth," Campbell said.
"Our offence traditionally has always been pretty strong. There's no change there.
"But we have the least amount of runs scored against, which tells you our defence and pitching has been really good."