Heat fall to Cavalry as season ends
The Perth Heat might have ended the regular ABL season with the equal second best record, but they had to still play in the Wildcard playoff on the road on Tuesday night, and now their season is over thanks to a 5-4 Canberra Cavalry victory.
The Heat did finish the regular season with a 23-17 record which was only narrowly behind the league-leading Adelaide Giants and then equal with Melbourne.
But the Aces held the tie-break over them and finished second in the southwest division as a result meaning the Heat also finished behind the top two teams in the northeast conference, despite a vastly superior record.
It's hard to see it as fair that a team finishing well clear on wins should then play the Wildcard battle on Tuesday night on the road in Canberra, but that's the way the conference system is set up.
As a result after winning Saturday night's Game 4 against the Melbourne Aces at home, the Heat prepared to play the Cavalry with their season on the line just to advance to the semi finals.
At the mound was the ABL's leading pitcher for the Heat, South African Dylan Unsworth, but his Canberra opponent was no slouch in Frank Gailey.
Canberra scored first with two runs in the opening inning and then went up 3-0 after three. However, Perth fired back with a three-run homer from Kaleo Johnson at the top of the fourth and it was game on.
Despite a Pete Kozma home run for the Heat in the ninth inning to offer a glimmer, homers in the seventh for the Cavalry from Robbie Podorsky and Cam Warner ultimately were enough for the Cavalry to win 5-4 and eliminate the Heat.
The Heat's pitching was their great strength all season but the combination of Unsworth and John Anderson couldn’t quite get the job done in Canberra. Despite that, Anderson takes plenty out of the season for the pair.
"He (Unsworth) is fantastic. Getting to watch him pitch every week has been inspiring to me and makes me want to pitch better as well," Anderson said.
"He's my roommate at home so we talk a lot of pitching and baseball stuff, and pick each other's brains. Anything we can do to get each other better every week, that's all we've been trying to do.
"And personally, there were a couple of outings that stuck out in my mind, and it's been a long season for me but it's been a real test. It's the most innings I've ever thrown in my career in one season.
"That's a good milestone for me and hopefully it means more for me in the future. I definitely want to keep playing because I love this game so much."
Written by Chris Pike.