Grand final win chance to reward Ipswich loyalty, hard work
HAVING devoted 23 years to Ipswich Musketeers, Andrew Campbell knows how much winning this weekend's grand final series would mean for his family and club.
His dad Jon is a former Brisbane Major League premiership winner and current Musketeers club president; Andrew's mum Denise is one of the most dedicated club people in Ipswich.
That motivates 27-year-old Australian player Andrew as he prepares to do battle with Windsor in the opening game of the Greater Brisbane League baseball grand final series at Holloway Field tonight.
"I've been playing at the club since I was four years old and it means a lot to my old man and my mum,'' Andrew said. "So to get that win for them would be good because they have worked hard for the club and it would be a reward for them.''
Wrapping up the three-game series victorious after such a terrific season would have added satisfaction for Ipswich born and bred Andrew.
Although he has represented Australia and won four consecutive national league titles with the Brisbane Bandits, Andrew is yet to clinch a senior level premiership.
Ipswich's last A-Grade title was in 2001.
The former St Edmund's College student was part of Musketeers' teams that lost grand final series in 2016 and 2017 - both to this weekend's opponents Windsor.
Tonight's showdown is again between the top two teams in the league, who split each series they contested during the regular season.
However, Musketeers have been the standout side with 32 wins and 11 losses. That includes a healthy away record of 16 wins and only six losses.
"That's probably the best Ipswich side I've ever seen since I've been playing,'' Campbell said.
"We've proven to be the best team all year so we've just got to finish it off and celebrate.''
Campbell's dream finish this weekend would be to secure the grand final series on Sunday afternoon at Newmarket, after winning tonight's game at the venue where he has shared in past Bandits' ABL title glory.
Winning the final series 2-0 would also give Campbell more time to prepare for his next international baseball mission.
He's off to Germany next week to play in the Division 1 league as part of his off-season preparations before rejoining the Australian team in camp in September.
But before that, Campbell's focus is solely on helping his proud Ipswich club achieve an elusive premiership.
Campbell has spent many years with other loyal Ipswich campaigners like Josh Roberts, Gregg Ellis, Brett Bramwell, Matt Allen and Dean Jones.
"We've been playing together for a long time so I know it means a lot for all those boys to get that premiership and we'll be trying our best to get it,'' the centre fielder said.
The minor premiership-winning Musketeers advanced directly to the grand final after beating the Redcliffe Padres 2-1 in their semi-final series.
Second-placed Windsor also wrapped up their preliminary final series 2-1 after winning the decider 3-2 against Redcliffe on Tuesday night.
"They've always got good pitching so that's one of the things to overcome,'' Campbell said of Windsor.
However, he backed Ipswich's number one pitcher Fernandez Bertran to get the job done tonight.
"Fernandez has probably been the best pitcher in the league,'' Campbell said, also praising Musketeers shortstop Phillip Schulz.
"I haven't seen a shortstop play that well for a long time.''
Like Campbell, Musketeers captain/coach Roberts has also played in two losing grand finals and wants to set the record straight.
Although he's shared in A-Grade rugby league premiership joy with Norths Tigers, Roberts is yet to savour the same emotion in baseball.
Roberts said Musketeers would field the same squad that won their semi-final series against Redcliffe.
"Everyone's fresh and ready to go,'' he said. "By winning, we got last weekend off so we can set up our pitching the way we want to do it.''
Although a home ground advantage at Tivoli Sporting Complex would be helpful, Roberts enjoys Holloway Field like Campbell.
"It's the best field in Queensland,'' he said.
"It definitely will be a great battle. They've got great pitching depth and a few young guys and a couple of Bandits and Australian players as well.''
GBL grand final series: Ipswich Musketeers v Windsor at Holloway Field, Newmarket.
Game 1: Tonight (7pm). Game 2: Sunday (2pm). Game 3 (if required): Wednesday (7pm).
Previous encounters this season: Each of the three series split 1-1 (Ipswich lost 4-3 and won 5-4 in November; Ipswich won 7-1 and lost 7-5 in January; Ipswich won 16-5 and lost 1-0 in March).
Likely Ipswich Musketeers squad: Phillip Schulz, Andrew Campbell, Wade Dutton, Josh Roberts, Chandler McLaren, Fernandez Beltran, Brad Dutton, Steve Greer, Gregg Ellis, Rhett Bramwell, Pontus Bystrom, Matt Allen, Dean Jones.