Heat to turn up pressure on Bandits pitching
Putting the pressure back on the vaunted Brisbane Bandits pitching staff will be the Perth Heat's goal coming into this weekend's semi-final match up with a spot in the championship series at stake.
The Heat booked in their ABL playoff position last weekend by beating the Melbourne Aces three games to one at Empire Ballpark in the final series of the regular season.
That saw them finish the southwest division in second position at 20-16 to set up a semi-final match up away to a Bandits team in Brisbane who ended on top of the northeast division with a 28-8 record.
Now the job is ahead of the Heat to try and knock off the Bandits on their home ballpark with the opening game on Friday night before a double-header on Saturday, and things wrapping up on Sunday.
The winner will advance to the championship series and Heat manager Andy Kyle doesn't mind the match up.
"They obviously have the best record in the league and they are going to be confident at home where they play really well," Kyle said.
"We played really well against them last series where we split the series at home and went down by one run in one of the other games.
"Looking back at that and I think we match up pretty well with them and we've just got to try and get on top early against their quality pitching. If we can get their starter out of the way and get into the bullpen early I think we like our chances."
The key to the Heat knocking off the Bandits will be not allowing their strong pitching staff to get on top in the series.
Just a glance at the numbers and the Bandits have an ERA (earned run average) of 3.09 for the season, a whole run ahead of the next best pitching staff while having only conceded 280 hits, 144 runs and 38 home runs across the season.
Compare that with the Heat who have a team ERA of 4.40 while having given up 323 hits, 188 runs and 44 homers.
Cameron Wagner has been outstanding in closing games for the Bandits so coming into this series, Kyle knows the Heat bats have to put the pressure on the Brisbane pitching staff if they are to be a chance.
He has some good weapons at his disposal to do that with too, led by captain Tim Kennelly fresh off his walk off home run against the Melbourne Aces on Saturday to clinch the playoff spot.
Across the season, Junior Caminero has hit 14 home runs for the Heat, Alex Hall, Jake Bowey and Ulrich Bojarski eight, and World Series winner Josh Reddick six, so if any team can get going against the Bandits, it's this Perth team.
"They've pitched well all year and numbers wise they've got the best bullpen in the league," Kyle said.
"Their closer is 10-0 and hasn’t given up a run so obviously that's a massive strength, and they play well at home. They've got left hand sticks who can put the ball out in a small ball park so they play to their strengths there.
"They're a pretty well rounded team and have been healthy all year, and have obviously played some good quality baseball. It's going to be an exciting series."
IMAGE: Perth Heat