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Bradley struggles as Aussies blank D-backs03/21/2014 11:59 AM ET
By Tyler Maun / MiLB.com
With a win eluding them late on Thursday night, the Australian national team got to D-backs top prospect Archie Bradley early Friday and never looked back.
MLB.com's No. 5 prospect Bradley surrendered three runs on six hits over 3 2/3 innings as the Australians wrapped up their exhibition slate at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground with a 5-0 shutout win over Arizona.
"I'm just not throwing the ball very well right now," Bradley told MLB.com. "It's not something I'm really worried about, but it's something I've got to figure out."
Australia nearly pulled off the upset Thursday night, leading the Dodgers 2-0 heading into the eighth before Yasiel Puig sparked a late rally leading to a 4-2 Los Angeles win. Facing a D-backs lineup that looked a lot like what Arizona will send out for its regular season opener on Saturday, Australia's "Southern Thunder" went to work quickly against Bradley on Friday
Former Boston prospect Mitch Dening walked to lead off the bottom of the first inning, later swiping second, moving to third on a groundout and scoring on a single to left by former big leaguer Luke Hughes to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
Two innings later, Dening helped spark his team again, following Twins prospect Logan Wade's leadoff single with a double to put runners at second third. After Bradley issued a walk to load the bases, Red Sox prospect Stefan Welch singled to give Australia a 2-0 lead.
The Aussies pulled away from there as Bradley was unable to find a rhythm. A fourth-inning solo blast by former Phillies and Rangers Minor Leaguer Tim Kennelly helped to usher Bradley's departure.
"Archie didn't have his command very well, and they did a good job getting on him," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson told MLB.com after the loss.
Reliever Charles Brewer surrendered two more runs in the fifth on RBI singles from Hughes and Kennelly to give Australia their five-run margin. Right-hander Zeke Spruill held the line at the back end of Arizona's bullpen, not allowing a run while striking out three in two innings.
On the other side, Team Australia starter Tim Atherton, a Rule 5 selection of the A's, silenced the big-league bats he faced over three innings. Atherton, a New South Wales native, scattered three hits and struck out two on the way to the win. Twins Minor Leaguer Todd Van Steensel turned in a scoreless eighth as one of six Aussie relievers to preserve the shutout.
Diamondbacks shortstop prospect Chris Owings (MLB.com No. 77) entered in place of Didi Gregorius and went 1-for-2. Gregorius was on a diamond in Australia for the first time since he was a member of the Australian Baseball League's Canberra Cavalry during the circuit's inaugural 2010/11 season.
Boston farmhands Welch, Hughes, Kennelly and former major leaguer Justin Huber all led the way with two hits apiece in the victory.
"When you have great pitching, great hitting and defense with no mistakes, that's how you win," Team Australia manager Jon Deeble told Baseball Australia. "Our pitchers were outstanding. We learned from last night, and they barred down for the whole nine innings".
Gibson echoed Deeble's sentiments.
"I have to give them credit," Gibson said. "They formed a game plan and executed it well. We weren't able to make the necessary adjustments. They pitched us well, played hard and impressed a lot of people tonight."
Australia's Minor Leaguers now return to the States in the coming days for their assignments for the 2014 season while the Diamondbacks and Dodgers prepare to kick off the MLB campaign Saturday night under the lights in Sydney.