Heat open home stand with walk off home run
The Perth Heat have waited almost a full year to play a home game and they couldn’t have possibly made a more memorable return beating the Adelaide Giants on Saturday night 4-2 at Empire Ballpark with a walk off home run.
The Heat last played at home in the final game of last year's regular season against the Melbourne Aces on January 26 so it was just short of a whole calendar before they marked their return on Saturday night.
It had already been a full on day for both teams with them flying from Adelaide to Perth, and then virtually coming straight to Empire Ballpark to get ready to resume hostilities having been doing battle as part of both hubs in Brisbane and Adelaide.
It was another tremendous contest as well and on the very last bat of the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, Hawaiian sensation Shane Sasaki delivered the only home run of the game and it just happened to be the game winner to give the Heat the 4-2 victory.
The action got underway at Empire Ballpark with reigning ABL Pitching Champion Dylan Unsworth at the mound for the Heat.
He started on fire too only seeing seven batters in the opening two innings before the Heat opened the scoring in the bottom of the second. Grant Witherspoon got on base with a double before Alex Hall drove the ball deep up to the fence in centre field to drive him home and give the home side the 1-0 lead.
Unsworth again only saw four hitters in the third but he had a tougher time of it in the fourth and the Giants managed four consecutive singles off him to rack up two runs and take the 2-1 advantage.
Unsworth bounced back hard in the fifth with two strikeouts and a groundout before the Heat tied up scores with Ford Proctor connecting on an impressive hit which saw captain Tim Kennelly make it home to bring the scores to 2-2.
Will Sherriff came out to replace Unsworth in the top of the sixth for the Heat and scores would remain tied at 2-2 right up until Sasaki came up to bat with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
Then with a runner at third base and a full count, Sasaki got hold of one beautifully to send it over the centre right field fence.
That saw him drive in himself and Alex Hall for the winning runs with the second homer of his ABL career and wild celebrations ensued with the Tampa Bay Rays prospect and his Heat teammates.
Zac Reininger also finished strongly to close the game out for the Heat with the 4-2 victory coming in nine innings as the two teams now prepare for a double-header on Sunday back at Empire Ballpark.
The first game begins at 4pm with the second to follow at 7pm before the final game of this series ends on Monday. The Heat and Giants will then resume hostilities on Thursday.
By Chris Pike
ABL REGULAR SEASON, HOME GAME 1
PERTH HEAT 4 (Sasaki, Hall, Witherspoon, T Kennelly)
ADELAIDE GIANTS 2 (Randolph, Mead)
W – Zac Reininger; L – Luke Wilkins
Saturday January 23, Empire Ballpark
IMAGE: James Worsfold SMP Images