Heat fire for first win of ABL season
Another standout pitching performance and then impressive hitting including a three-run homer from Ford Proctor has seen Perth Heat open its Australian Baseball League account with a 5-1 win over the Brisbane Bandits on Tuesday.
The Heat were playing their first of eight games in seven days inside the Queensland hub as their ABL campaign now gets to build some momentum after only one of the first eight scheduled matches eventuated through COVID-19 complications.
The Bandits were on home soil at Viticon Stadium but had already played earlier in the day against the Adelaide Giants where they lost 6-1.
The Heat were attempting to win their first game of the season too having lost 1-0 in Melbourne against the Aces back on New Year's Eve setting the stage for a tantalising match up to close the day's action in Brisbane on Tuesday.
But by the end of the seven innings, it was the Heat who had produced another standout pitching performance to allow just four hits and four runs on top of the outings of American foursome Beau Sulser, Jacob Lopez, Nate Gercken and Zac Reininger.
That is becoming a regular occurrence for this Heat team but on Tuesday the batting performance matched it too as the visitors scored the five runs on the back of nine hits and a huge homerun from Tampa Bay Rays prospect Ford Proctor that brought three runs in the fifth.
Robbie Glendinning had a strong outing too with three hits from his four appearances at bat which saw him score twice while Jess Williams, Alex Hall, Grant Witherspoon and Tim Kennelly all had at least one hit.
Ready to make a fast start to the coming eight games over seven days in Brisbane, the Heat scored twice in the first inning against the Bandits. The strong start got going with singles to Robbie Glendinning and Ford Proctor before Alex Hall also batted in a run for the 2-0 lead.
That 2-0 lead remained for the Heat with Beau Sulser pitching impressively against the batters of the Bandits. The only hiccup was when Brisbane's Johnny Field cleared the right centre field fence in the bottom of the fourth.
Ford Proctor responded at the top of the fifth with the Texan continuing his fine afternoon with a home run that also allowed Tim Kennelly and Glendinning to score and make it a 5-1 ball game.
Sulser pitched the first four innings for the Heat conceding just two hits and delivering four strikeouts. He was relieved by Rays prospect Jacob Lopez who dealt out two strikeouts in his lone inning.
Nate Gercken then came on for 1.2 innings and looked good throwing two strikeouts. A couple of uncharacteristic fielding errors in the last innings weren’t ideal for the Heat, but ultimately weren’t costly with ex-Detroit Tigers pitcher Zac Reininger closing the deal.
The Heat will now look to back up the 5-1 victory against the Adelaide Giants on Wednesday with the first pitch to be thrown at 8am WST. The game will again be live on Fox Sports and Kayo.
ABL REGULAR SEASON, QUEENSLAND HUB GAME 1
PERTH HEAT 5 (Glendinning 2, T Kennelly 2, Proctor)
BRISBANE BANDITS 1 (Field)
W – Jacob Lopez; L – Tim Atherton
Tuesday January 5, Viticon Stadium
By Chris Pike