Heat, Giants can't be split as they go separate ways
It was perhaps only fitting that after playing one another 14 times in recent weeks that the Perth Heat and Adelaide Giants split their final night of action with a win apiece in Saturday's double-header at Empire Ballpark.
The second series in as many weekends in Perth between the Heat and Giants ended with two more games on Saturday at Empire Ballpark.
The Heat delivered an impressive showing first up with Ford Proctor scoring four times and Jacob Lopez delivering his best pitching performance as a Heater as the home side went on to win 7-1.
It was a thrilling second game then on Saturday night but the Giants prevailed 7-6 to leave the series tied at two games apiece with one round of the regular season remaining.
It means that the Heat and Giants can move on to fresh opponents too. Over the course of the hubs in Brisbane and Adelaide, and now the last two weekends in Perth, they have played one another 14 times with the Heat winning nine of those match ups.
The Heat now head into the final round sitting in second position at 12-9 with the possibility of finishing in any of the top four positions.
A top three finish will mean automatically qualifying for the double elimination playoff phase but finishing fourth would mean needing to play in the wildcard game for a second straight season.
The Heat will be hosting the league-leading Melbourne Aces in four games next weekend and will need to win all four matches to claim first place. The most likely finish will be second or third as they would need to lose all four games to slip to fourth below the Canberra Cavalry.
Saturday night's action got underway with the Heat looking to continue the momentum from the Friday night win over the Giants and with Jacob Lopez the starting pitcher, that was able to happen.
Over the opening four innings, not a single Giants batter got on base with Lopez racing through three batters an inning up until the fourth. A couple of batters got on base but the Giants remained scoreless when Lopez was replaced by big leaguer Zac Reininger.
Along the way the runs racked up for the Heat starting with two in the opening inning. Tim Kennelly and Ford Proctor were both walked, and then hits from Robbie Glendinning and Abiezel Ramirez were enough to see in the first two on base to score and make it 2-0 early.
The Heat added another run in the third. Again Proctor was walked and this time it was a line drive double from Grant Witherspoon that saw him to score to make it 3-0.
Two more runs came the way of the home team in the bottom of the fifth. The inning started with a Proctor double when he was allowed to swing for the first time in the game. Witherspoon was then walked before Glendinning connected again to drive in two more runs and give the Heat a 5-0 advantage.
The Heat then completed the deal in the sixth with two more runs that were driven in by hits again from Tampa Bay prospects Proctor and Witherspoon. That gave Perth the 7-0 lead and they would go on to win 7-1 in a game where they racked up nine hits and conceded just four.
The two teams then backed it up soon after to close the series on Saturday night and once again the Heat began the game on fire with four runs in the first inning.
Again the Giants chose to walk Proctor and then Witherspoon connected big time on his fourth home run of the season to bring in the first two runs.
Glendinning and Ramirez backed up with hits two and then Jake Bowey joined them to load the bases. Shane Sasaki was walked to bring home Glendinning, and then Ramirez scored too on a high ball from Sam Kennelly.
The Heat then added two more runs in the second on the back of hits from Proctor, Glendinning and Ramirez to put them up an ominous 6-0 after just the two innings.
The Giants did get a couple of runs themselves in the top of the third but the Heat remained in control leading 6-2 heading into the sixth.
That's where the game took a turn Adelaide's way. They drove in four runs alone in that inning and then added the go-ahead run in the seventh before closing the deal and winning 7-6 to leave the series tied at two wins apiece.
By Chris Pike.
ABL REGULAR SEASON, HOME GAME 7
PERTH HEAT 7 (Proctor 4, Sasaki, Witherspoon, T Kennelly)
ADELAIDE GIANTS 1 (Mead)
W – Jacob Lopez; L – Mitch Neunborn
ABL REGULAR SEASON, HOME GAME 8
PERTH HEAT 6 (Glendinning 2, Proctor 2, Ramirez, Witherspoon)
ADELAIDE GIANTS 7 (Wingrove 2, Edwards, Simmons, McArdle, Mead, Little)
W – Jonathan Hennigan; L – Nate Gercken; S – Todd Van Steensel
Saturday January 30, Empire Ballpark