Heat pitching shines in season opener
It was a pitching masterclass on both sides as Perth Heat's Australian Baseball League season got underway at Melbourne Ballpark on New Year's Eve, but it was the Melbourne Aces who managed the only run of the outing.
The long-awaited season opener for the Heat took place on New Year's Eve at Melbourne Ballpark and the pitching on both sides was outstanding with neither willing to take a backward step in that quest to finish 2020 on winning note.
The eight innings pitched for the Heat by Dylan Unsworth, Zac Reininger and Alan Strong were all outstanding, but the Aces threw well too and despite Perth having a better hitting night than Melbourne, they couldn’t quite find that elusive run.
The Heat did finish the game with five hits to three and did leave three runners in scoring positions on base throughout the game.
But ultimately the game was decided in the bottom of the eighth inning with the Aces finding the only run of the evening when Colin Willis was able to find his way home after getting to base on a walk.
Then a sacrifice bunt from Jake Romanski allowed Willis to steal and get to third before a sacrifice fly ball from Kyle Perkins allowed him home, and that turned out to be the winning run of the game.
Despite the eventual 1-0 loss in the season-opener for the Heat, there was a lot to like and it started with the performance of the pitchers.
Reigning ABL Pitching Champion Dylan Unsworth opened up proceedings as he did so well a season ago and the South African threw five strong innings where he only conceded two hits all up.
Zac Reininger then took the mound, with no signs of the flowing locks the former Detroit Tigers Major Leaguer arrived in Perth with, and he shook out some cobwebs in his one scoreless inning at the mound.
Alan Strong then finished off the game and the Tampa Bay Rays prospect might have ended up taking the loss, but that was through no fault of his own. There was an error off his pitching but he didn’t concede a hit despite the winning run being scored off him. He also threw two strikeouts.
As for the bat, Rays prospect Grant Witherspoon was once again a highlight finishing the night with three hits from his four at bats, including a double.
He produced three of the five hits for the game for the Heat with the others coming from Ulrich Bojarski and Alex Hall.
The Heat will now look to square up the series on Friday back at Melbourne Ballpark with the game commencing at 4pm WST.
ABL REGULAR SEASON, SERIES GAME 1
PERTH HEAT 0
MELBOURNE ACES 1 (Willis)
W – Drew Anderson; L – Alan Strong
Thursday December 31, Melbourne Ballpark
By Chris Pike.