Maxx Tissenbaum's clutch hits a catch for Brisbane Bandits
STAR Brisbane Bandits catcher Maxx Tissenbaum believes his team is ready to give a much better account of itself against Perth, in the away series starting tonight.
The Bandits blew their chance to make the ABL playoffs last season after being swept 4-0 to eventual champions the Heat in the final series of the 2014/15 season.
But Tissenbaum - a recruit from the Charlotte Stone Crabs at Advanced-A level in the Tampa Bay Rays' system - said his team had started its 2015/16 campaign with a much stronger belief.
That was obvious in the Bandits' stunning 4-0 series sweep over last season's championship series runners-up, the Adelaide Bite last round.
The Bandits came back to win in three of those four games, Tissenbaum hitting the winning RBI in the first two games in extra innings.
Thursday night saw him hit the walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 11th in his only at-bat of the game, coming in off the bench.
Another RBI single from Tissenbaum in the bottom of the 10th scored Riley Unroe the following night, the Bandits coming back from 6-2 down after a dramatic four-run rally in the bottom on the ninth.
Then on Saturday night the hosts came back from 4-1 down in the bottom of the seventh, with another four-run rally.
That was when fellow Rays prospects Riley Unroe (reached base on an error and picked up a stolen base), Bralin Jackson (RBI double) and Justin Williams (RBI single followed by a stolen base) played a big part in the rally.
Tissenbaum said the Bandits never stopped believing throughout their series against the Bite.
"The whole series we've shown even when we're down a few runs late in the game, we're never really out of the game," he told APN.
"Here (Saturday night) we were down 4-1 and we came back.
"Last (Friday) night it was 6-2 and we came back to win.
"Every night there's somebody new that's going to be the hero."
As for Tissenbaum being the hero in the first two games of the series, he played it down.
"It was awesome. It was a little bit of a case of right place, right time, because there were a lot of things that had to get us to that point," the Toronto-born man said.
"But it was awesome to be the guy in that situation, and come through both times."
After starting the season with a 3-1 series loss in Canberra, Brisbane now sits second on the ABL ladder after its sweep over the Bite.
This has given the team confidence going into its four-game series against the star-studded Heat, starting with a double-header tonight.
"The last series over there (last season) we were just kind of snake-bitten. We played even with them for seven of the first eight games, and those last four we fell apart and couldn't find a way to do it," Tissenbaum said.
"But I think this group has a resilient, never-die attitude, and I think that'll go a long way.
"Because that's a tough place to play, especially with two double-headers (with another on Saturday night)."
With Tissenbaum sharing the catching duties with Rays prospect Nick Ciuffo, he has been happy to play his part in the Bandits' early-season success wherever he can fit in.
"I knew he (Ciuffo) was coming down from about the middle of August, so I wasn't really coming down here expecting to catch twice a week," Tissenbaum said.
"I've spoken to the coaches and staff here, and they said 'you'll DH, you'll play first, you might play third - you'll just kind of bounce around and be in the line-up offensively'."
Tissenbaum was the fifth-best batter in the league last season, and is averaging a respectable .300 so far this season from 20 at-bats.
He feels he's not far off progressing further up the gruelling minor-league ladder in the US.
"Everywhere I play, I go in there expecting myself to do well based off my preparation and all the years I've put into it," he said.
"I was pretty excited to come back down here and I'm looking forward to putting up some big numbers for the team.
"I love the team, love the city, I love the travel and all the cities that we play in."