Anderson gives Heat a chance
A standout pitching performance over eight innings from John Anderson has given Perth Heat a chance of moving straight into the ABL semi finals should they win both games on Saturday against the Melbourne Aces.
The Heat appeared to be condemned to playing in Tuesday's Wildcard game after losing Thursday night's series opener against the Melbourne Aces at Perth Harley-Davidson Ballpark.
The task coming into the weekend was to win three of the four games against the Aces to end up finishing second in the southwest division.
That would mean the Heat automatically qualify for the semi finals and avoid playing in Tuesday's Wildcard playoff which they would then have to win to move through to a semi-final series next weekend.
That job became significantly tougher after Thursday night when the Aces scored the 4-2 victory. But still the task for the Heat was to win three games in the series and they got a third of the task done on Friday night largely thanks to the work done on the mound by John Anderson.
Both teams scored two runs each in the first inning including a Melbourne homerun from Delmon Young and hits for the Heat from Ulrich Bojarski and Kaleo Johnson.
But Perth broke the game open firstly with a Johnson homer in the fourth inning and then with five runs in the fifth largely on the back of the three-run home run from Nico Hulsizer.
That gave the Heat the 8-2 advantage and that's where it would remain the rest of the night in front of a tremendous crowd of almost 2000 people.
Anderson pitched an outstanding game over eight innings for the Heat with 95 pitches. He conceded just the four hits while producing five strikeouts before Daniel Schmidt came out and closed the crucial win.
"I had one objective and that was just to make every pitch as best I could. I knew what was on the line and I knew I had to give us a strong outing tonight," Anderson said.
"My issue over the last couple of outings has been having a tough first innings so I knew if I could get past that unscathed that it would be a good day. I did give up the homerun, but some good pitches after that and kept us in the ball game the whole way.
"That fifth inning was huge and it was relieving to see us having a good inning like that because it's been a bit up and down with the bats. Having a good outburst in a single inning was huge for us and that kind of took the game."
The scenario is now simple for the Heat. Beat the Aces in both games of the double-header back at Harley-Davidson Ballpark on Saturday starting at 4pm. Do that and they are straight into the semi finals next week. If they don't, they play in the Wildcard game on Tuesday night.
For Anderson, he is confident of the Heat getting the job done in Saturday's double-header.
"We know what's at stake so we just have to go out there and play the game we know how to play. It just comes down to good pitching and defence because I'm sure the bats will take care of us," Anderson said.
"If we get a good outing from Tom Bailey, I think we'll be just fine because he's been pitching fine the last couple of weeks.
"What we need is quality starting pitching, a solid bullpen and playing nails defence. We're definitely equal or better than the Aces so I think we have what it takes, it's just about playing our best baseball."
Written by Chris Pike.