Heat stun Bandits to reach Championship series
Perth Heat have ended the record setting ABL season of the Brisbane Bandits winning back-to-back games this weekend showing their offensive weaponry to book in a spot in the 2023 Championship Series.
The Heat had the job ahead of them heading to Brisbane this weekend in the semi-final series to play the Bandits and needing to win two games to reach next weekend's Championship Series.
The Bandits finished on top of the northeast division with a 28-8 record to earn the right to host the Heat in the semi finals. Perth finished second in the southwest division at 20-16.
However, the Heat did head to Queensland confident of causing the upset on the back of their batting prowess that could turn the heat back on the Bandits. That's how it ended up turning out with the wins on Saturday night and Sunday.
Game 1 on Friday night saw Brisbane control the contest, though, at Viticon Stadium. By keeping it a low scoring affair, that suited the Bandits and they kept the Heat bats under control to end up winning 3-2.
Perth did score on the back of a home run from Ulrich Bojarski in the second inning and then a Junior Caminero double drove in a run in the third, but that would be it for the Heat in the opening game.
The Bandits scored a run each in the third, fifth and sixth inning to secure the win on the back of strong pitching performances from David Huff and Max Lazar, and the save by James Meeker.
That meant the Heat had to win twice over the weekend and that challenge started on Saturday with the bats catching fire in spectacular fashion for the eventual 14-4 victory.
The Heat compiled eight runs up until the end of the sixth inning but then blew the game wide open in the seventh with six runs. That included a home run to Connor Owings, and single hits to Alex Hall, Peter Kozma, Jake Bowey, William Simoneit and Tim Kennelly.
That set up the eventual big win that included homers to Simoneit, Bowey and Bojarski with the pitching staff doing well to limit the Bandits to four runs on just six hits for the game.
That meant it was all on the line on Sunday with the winner to advance to the Championship Series and the Heat kept the momentum going to end up prevailing 10-8 in quite the contest.
The Bandits got off to a flying start with three runs in the opening inning before the Heat caught fire with seven runs in the second.
That included home runs to Bojarski and Bowey along with singles to Hall, Kozma and Kennelly before Caminero put a ball over the fence for the 15th time this season to drive in two other runs.
That gave the Heat the 7-3 advantage which became 9-3 with two more runs in the sixth. The Bandits did score three runs in the bottom of the sixth to keep things interesting though.
However, the Heat managed another run in the eighth and the pitching staff did enough to seal the deal with the game on the line for Perth to win 10-8.
Their opponents and the location of the Championship Series was then still to be decided with the Adelaide Giants and Auckland Tuatara locked in a fascinating tussle in Adelaide with Games 2 and 3 having to be played on Sunday with Saturday washed out.
Auckland forced the deciding Game 3 by winning the first Sunday encounter 2-0 but then the Giants bounced back to win the decider 4-2.
That means the Giants have earned the right to host the deciding games of next weekend's Championship Series against the Heat.
Game 1 will be played on Friday night in Perth at Empire Ballpark with the first pitch to be thrown at 7pm. Games 2 and, if required, 3, will be in Adelaide at Dicolor Australia Stadium on Saturday night/Sunday afternoon.