Muskets to rest starters in final round 'dead rubber'
WITH two games to play and a three-win buffer at the top of the table, the Ipswich Musketeers have already sown up the Greater Brisbane League minor premiership.
That scenario puts something of a dampener on tonight's would-be blockbuster clash with second-placed Redcliffe.
What loomed as a two-legged tie to decide the minor premier will instead be viewed as a dead rubber - at least by Ipswich.
The Padres must still at least split the series to ensure they are not passed by Windsor, who currently sit one game behind in third spot.
But the Musketeers can use this weekend's fixtures as a final round tune-up before the important stuff resumes next weekend.
"It also gives us a bit of a chance to rest our pitchers," Wade Dutton said, recently returned from Brisbane Bandits duty where he helped the ABL club to a fourth-straight championship.
"(The result) doesn't mean anything, so we'll give our pitchers a break. Come finals they're a crucial part of our team.
"It will be good to get some quality at-bats against some good pitching, but most important is for our pitchers to refresh and get back into it."
Dutton had no concerns about tempting fate and form by not giving their all against an opponent who appears to be their main threat in the GBL title race.
"No, we know what we can do that doesn't worry us at all," Dutton said.
"If we show up on our day we'll beat anyone. We'll still have a really strong hitting line-up, so we'll go hard at them this weekend.
The Australian representative added home field advantage would play a big part in the Musketeers engineering a path to the final.
"We'll beat anyone at home. Even if we lose the first round, we'll still have another final," Dutton said of the benefits to finishing top of the table.
"Home advantage is massive come finals time. I think our record at home is pretty strong this year."
But the experienced campaigner knows the quality of opposition which makes up the GBL top four.
He said tonight's clash with Redcliffe would be an opportunity to fan the flame of competition ahead of what promises to be "an exciting" finals series.
"It's gonna be strong. With us, Redcliffe, Windsor and Redlands there, everyone single one of them has good pitching," Dutton said.
"Windsor are always tough to beat. Padres have a fiery side - don't show up against them and they'll sneak away with a win. And Redlands have a really solid hitting line-up."
With Sunday's match being the last home game before finals, the Musketeers are hosting an Old Boys & Supporters Day and all are welcome to attend.
All Australian and Olympic past players Kim 'Lefty' Jessop, Paul 'Coogs' Coogan, Peter 'Yowie' Vogler and Peter 'Woodsy' Woods will all be in attendance.
Foundation members Ken 'Pud' Hogan and Neil 'Tango' Bradley will open the day, beginning 10.45am.
Greater Brisbane League
Tonight (7pm) - Ipswich Musketeers v Redcliffe Padres at Tivoli
Sunday (1.30pm) - Ipswich Musketeers v Redcliffe Padres at Tivoli