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Heat headed for wildcard playoff

The Perth Heat still managed to tie the series with the Melbourne Aces to close the ABL regular season and despite a confidence-boosting finish with a walk off hit in the fourth game, they have to play in Tuesday night's Wildcard playoff in Canberra.

After the Heat and Aces split the two games of the series on Thursday and Friday nights at Harley Davidson-Ballpark to open the final round of the regular season, everything was on the line in the Saturday double-header.

Quite simply the Heat had to win both matches to advance straight to the semi finals while losing one of the two matches would see the Aces claim second spot in the southwest division and automatically move into the semi finals.

While the Heat had won the second game of the series on Friday night, they couldn’t repeat the dose to open the double-header on Saturday. Melbourne came out firing with five runs in the first inning including a three-run home run to Colin Willis.

Delmon Young then hit another homer in the second inning the Aces would end up cruising to the 9-0 victory to book in their semi-final spot and leaving the Heat knowing they were destined for the Wildcard playoff on Tuesday night.

However, there was still a game to play and a chance to avoid losing the series to Melbourne and the Heat produced an improved showing in the fourth game on Saturday night.

Tim Kennelly scored in the first inning before Alex Hall did the same in the second for a 2-0 lead. The Aces responded with the next three runs but Ulrich Bojarski was hit home by Hall in the fifth for the Heat to level scores at 3-3.

Both teams scored another run each to leave scores tied at 4-4 after nine forcing extra innings.

With runners on base under the overtime rules, the Aces scored twice in the 10th inning putting the pressure back on the Heat. But the home team was up to it.

Hall hit a double to bring Robbie Glendinning home before Melbourne decided to walk Sam Kennelly bringing Roberto Alvarez to the plate. He produced the walk off hit up centre field to allow both Bojarski and Hall to score, and the Heat celebrated.

Having been on the receiving end of walk off runs on the road numerous time this season, it was a confidence booster for the Heat heading into the Wildcard playoff, and Alvarez always had faith of delivering.

"Oh man, I just feel good. I just wanted to do my best for me and to help the team. I have confidence in myself so I did feel good heading up to the plate that I could get the job done," Alvarez said.

"This is my second walk off here with the Heat this season so I feel really, really good about it. I'm always confident because I trust myself and my team, and everything so we are all looking forward to Tuesday's game now."

The Heat now travel to Canberra to play the Canberra Cavalry on Tuesday night in the cut-throat Wildcard playoff. Should they win, they will be back home to play Game 1 of the semi-final series against the Adelaide Giants on Thursday night.

Written by Chris Pike.

IMAGE: Supplied

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