Heartbreak for Heat in Adelaide
Perth Heat's pitchers again did a tremendous job but three walk off hits from the Adelaide Giants was the difference this weekend as the race for a top two finish in the ABL southwest conference fired up.
There was a lot to like about the performance from the Heat this weekend on the road against the Giants at Adelaide Shores Baseball Complex, but Adelaide managed to win three of the four games all courtesy of walk off hits in the last inning.
The Heat played well in the second game of the Saturday double-header to win 2-0 after a shutout of the Giants which included Daniel Schmidt recording his 300th career strikeout along the way.
But the other three games all came down to the last batter at the plate and went the way of the Giants. Adelaide won Game 1 on Friday night 3-2 when Rixon Wingrove was able to get the ball high enough for Matt Hutchings to score the winning run.
That was despite another standout eight-inning performance for the Heat from South African pitcher Dylan Unsworth. He threw another 10 strikeouts and only conceded five hits and two runs in 107 pitches thrown down.
The Heat started the game with two runs in the first inning courtesy of a home run of Robbie Glendinning, but they weren’t able to score the rest of the night.
The first game on Saturday then saw the Giants score in the first inning against John Anderson. The Heat levelled scores in the fifth thanks to an Alex Hall single after a Kaleo Johnson double.
Scores were level at 1-1 heading into the last inning and this time it was a double from Ben Aklinski and single from Curtis Mead that were match-winning for the Giants.
The Heat had to win the second game of the double-header on Saturday and with Tom Bailey pitching a brilliant six innings, Schmidt and Jorge Perez finished the job in the 2-0 win that saw Perth score courtesy of runs in the seventh and ninth inning.
Afterwards, Schmidt was proud and relieved to get his 300th strikeout milestone out of the way to now turn his attention to the Heat's fight for a top two position.
"It has taken me 10-plus years to get there and milestones are hard to come by. I'm stoked to finally get the 300th. It plays on the back of your mind a little bit so it's nice to get it out of the way," Schmidt said.
"It's a bit of a different role for me this year. I was a bit more of a long relief guy last year, so to come into more pressure situations this year has been a great experience.
"It's getting to the pointy end of the season now with Adelaide, ourselves and Melbourne all in the race for the top two so every game we play from now on is really important for us."
Game 4 of the series took place on Sunday with the Heat leading 3-0 after five innings thanks to a two-run Sam Kennelly homer in the third and then Hall scoring in the fifth.
The Giants pulled four runs back to take the lead after seven, but the Heat responded with two more runs in the eighth with a Pete Kozma home run to lead 5-4.
But once more Adelaide got out of jail in the last inning and this time it was a Jordan McArdle single that allowed Aaron Whitefield to score the winning run.
The results in Adelaide leave the race for the ABL finals a fascinating one. The Giants have moved clear on top of the southwest conference at 21-11 but the Heat and Melbourne Aces are locked in a battle for second at 18-14 and 17-14 respectively.
The Heat now take on the struggling Geelong-Korea on the road next weekend before then hosting the Aces across the Australia Day weekend at Perth Harley-Davidson Ballpark with that series likely to decide that second spot.
Written by Chris Pike.