IN-FORM Brisbane Bandits batter David Sutherland said part of the reason why he continued his hot streak against Sydney last round was because he loves the rivalry against the Blue Sox.
Both clubs made national and even international headlines, which is rare for the Australian Baseball League, after an all-in brawl during their round-nine series in Sydney.
Bandits batter Josh Roberts from Ipswichaaa copped a six-game suspension for running in and pushing Sydney catcher Daniel Arribas.
It was on again between players and fans on Saturday night in the return series in Brisbane, with the crowd taking exception to fellow Blue Sox catcher Guy Edmonds responding in a forthright manner to some crowd taunts.
But Sutherland, a Brisbane junior, put all that behind him during the series, which finished 2-all.
He reached a seven-game hitting streak in the Bandits' thrilling extra-innings victory over the Sydneysiders on Friday night at Holloway Field.
"Whenever we play a Sydney team, there's always something there," he said.
"Generally we both play hard but try not to overstep the mark.
"I'm having good at-bats. I'm swinging at pitches to hit and laying off the tough pitches."
Despite the bad blood between both sides, the Blue Sox showed Sutherland the ultimate level of respect on Friday night, by deliberately walking him to first base late in the game.
"I've been going pretty well lately, and that's part of the game. If they want to take their chances with the next guy, that's fine," he said.
"Hopefully I can keep it going. The simpler you keep it, the better you go."
Sutherland is now 23rd on the ABL's top batters' table, averaging .257.
But after playing rookie ball and Lower-A level in the US as part of the LA Dodgers' farm system, he conceded there would be no chance of going back there to play.
"I'm probably a bit too old now - I'm 28. They look at guys now who are 16 to 20," he said.
"Once you're in and not quite up to it, that's it. You're out of there."
Sutherland, who played for Pine Hills and Windsor before his five-year stint in the US, believes the Bandits can still be a force this year.
That is despite the fact his team sits last with 11 games remaining.
And that draw includes two four-game series against the first and second-placed Perth Heat and Canberra Cavalry, respectively.
The Bandits are currently in a four-game series against the Heat, losing the first game 10-3 last night, with the second game to be played tonight.
"We're pretty tight-knit at the moment. We're not showing any signs of giving up or anything," Sutherland said.
"We're still in the battle. We have to win a lot of our remaining games to make it, but it's still possible."