Heat excited for critical string of home games
It is a month after initially scheduled, but Perth Heat begin a run home games at Empire Ballpark this Saturday and captain Tim Kennelly couldn’t be more excited to be in front of the local fans and to wear the white uniform.
The Heat will be back in Perth to play a run of home matches at Empire Ballpark starting on Saturday night against the Adelaide Giants.
Following on from Saturday night, the Heat and Giants will play a double-header on Sunday and another game on Monday.
Things will continue between the two teams as they resume hostilities still at Empire Ballpark for a game on Thursday night, another on Friday and then a double-header on Saturday.
If they aren’t already, the two teams will be sick of the sight of each other by then but what those run of eight matches will do is have a big say in where both teams end up finishing ahead of the playoffs in the Australian Baseball League.
Little separates the teams right now as they prepare to leave Adelaide to fly into Perth on Saturday and to play at Empire Ballpark on Saturday night.
The Giants currently sit second with a 9-5 record while the Heat are 7-6 after finishing life in the South Australian hub with wins over the last days against both the Giants and Brisbane Bandits.
Finishing in one of the top three positions this season is going to be crucial for the Heat to avoid having to play in the wildcard game again which was where their season came to an end last year.
But all the focus on now is around the excitement of returning home and getting to play at Empire Ballpark for the first time in a year.
Heat captain Tim Kennelly can't wait to get home but is relieved to do it after a couple of important wins.
"It definitely is a season like no other and it feels like we have been running away from COVID," Kennelly said.
"But it was good to get some consistent games in over a short period of time. Now we'll be back in Perth and as we look back it was a pretty successful hub in Adelaide for the team."
Kennelly mentioned coming into the season how highly he rated this pitching staff from the Heat and they have certainly delivered on that potential.
Dylan Unsworth, Beau Sulser and Nathan Wiles have been leading the charge throwing for the Heat to date as the standouts while Warwick Saupold, Will Sherriff, Jacob Lopez, Zac Reininger, Daniel Schmidt, Nick Alexiou, Alan Strong and Tom Bailey have thrown for at least three innings.
That depth is impressive and as a group they have only given up 69 hits and 30 runs in the 90 innings in total. They have thrown 82 strikeouts for a .208 average.
Those numbers are outstanding and they have been instrumental in the wins the Heat have racked up which Kennelly certainly hasn’t been surprised by.
"Our pitching has been phenomenal. I said at the start of the season I said it could be the best pitching staff in my time here at the Heat and they've backed it up and have been fantastic all season," Kennelly said.
"They have kept us in pretty much every game and a few wins haven’t fallen our way that perhaps should have, but we've got really good starting pitching and our depth throughout the whole bullpen is really good.
"We're happy with that and hopefully we can keep scoring some runs for them so we can put some wins on the board."
The Heat's batting has been a little more hit and miss so far this season but the numbers as a team aren’t too bad and there have been standout individual performances.
Ford Proctor has been outstanding with 12 hits, six runs and two homers while batting in 11 runs while Robbie Glendinning, Grant Witherspoon, Abiezel Ramirez, Kennelly himself, Shane Sasaki, Jess Williams and Ulrich Bojarski have had their moments.
Kennelly is looking forward to seeing their batting continuing to improve.
"We have a really good hitting team but we've run into some really good pitching as well," Kennelly said.
"We've had some ups and downs in a lot of the games and it hasn’t really been the long ball providing a lot of our runs. We've played in Adelaide for the last eight games and it's a pretty hard field to hit at with the wind there.
"So it's about trying to manufacture getting guys on base and trying to drive them in. We've probably been a little inconsistent with swinging the bat across the board but at times when it's mattered we've put some big scores on the board and got some important wins."
By Chris Pike.
PERTH HEAT AT HOME TO ADELAIDE GIANTS
All games played at Empire Ballpark
Live on Fox Sports and Kayo
Listed in WST
First pitch 7.00pm
First pitch 4.00pm
First pitch 7.00pm
First pitch 6.00pm
IMAGE: SMP Images.