Heat take part in game of ABL season in double-header
Perth Heat opened up their double-header on Thursday in the Brisbane Hub taking part in the game of the Australian Baseball League season to date ending in dramatic fashion before then going up against a hungry Bandits on home soil.
It was a rare ABL double-header for the Heat made happen through the complications of COVID-19 and with the Heat, Brisbane Bandits and Adelaide Giants all in the Brisbane Hub this week, it was Perth's turn to take part in two games in the one day against different opponents.
The Heat had every right to be entering the back-to-back games feeling buoyed after a 5-1 victory against the Bandits on Tuesday and then a 12-2 thumping of the Giants on Wednesday.
But what eventuated between the Heat and Giants was the game of the ABL season to date and it couldn’t be decided in normal time.
The game got off to the best possible start for the Heat thanks to the impressive Grant Witherspoon. The Tampa Bay Rays prospect has made a tremendous start to his time with Perth and in the first at bat of the game, he doubled on a line drive.
He ended up getting home when Robbie Glendinning got on base after a Giants fielding error and that 1-0 lead remained for the Heat until the bottom of the seventh.
Reigning ABL Pitching Champion Dylan Unsworth was proving unhittable once again with the South African showing he could very well be the best pitcher in the league once again.
During his more than five innings at the mount, he delivered five strikeouts and conceded only two hits and zero runs.
He then received some good relief from Alan Strong and the Heat were on track to win still leading 1-0 with Adelaide at bat for the last time in the bottom of the seventh.
A couple of walks and then Strong hitting Adelaide batter Kendall Simmons saw the Giants tie scores with the equalling run and that saw extra innings needed for the first time this ABL season.
Neither team could score in the eighth but that all changed in the ninth. A single from Texan Ford Proctor allowed Jess Williams to score from third for the Heat and then the lead grew to 3-1 on a sacrificial flyball from Sam Kennelly.
That 3-1 lead had the Heat in a good spot but the Giants had Rixon Wingrove. He stepped up in the first at bat of the bottom of the ninth for Adelaide and hammered it out of the ballpark.
With the two runners on base in the extra innings rules, that saw his homer drive in three runs and give the Giants the 4-3 win despite the Heat being on top most of the game and doing plenty right.
The Heat then had the afternoon to stew over that result and prepare to come back out in the Brisbane evening to take on a Bandits team chasing their first win of the ABL season.
Brisbane started well with a couple of runs in the opening inning and the Bandits were able to keep that momentum going scoring at least one run in each of the opening five times at bat.
That included three runs in the fourth and fifth inning as the lead grew to 10-1 for the home team.
The Heat did open their account in the top of the fifth when Ulrich Bojarski scored after he hit a single and then a couple of Bandits fielding errors saw him get home.
Perth got another run in the sixth with Robbie Glendinning getting walked and then making it home after a Proctor single and flyball from Bojarski.
But the Bandits still won 10-2 with the Heat now having Friday off before preparing to play Brisbane once again on Saturday with the first pitch thrown at 4.30pm Perth time.
ABL REGULAR SEASON, QUEENSLAND HUB GAMES 3, 4
PERTH HEAT 3 (Witherspoon 2, Williams)
ADELAIDE GIANTS 4 (Wingrove 2, Williams, Mead)
W – Michael Gahan; L – Zac Reininger
PERTH HEAT 2 (Bojarski, Glendinning)
BRISBANE BANDITS 10 (Walker 2, Unroe 2, Battaglia 2, Campbell 2, Dutton, Wade)
W – Sam Holland; L – Tom Bailey
Thursday January 7, Viticon Stadium
By Chris Pike.