Record-setting Heat with blistering playoff opener
The Perth Heat have smashed the Australian Baseball League playoffs scoring record delivering a scintillating performance to open the 2021 playoffs with a 26-6 hammering of the Adelaide Giants.
The preparation for the playoffs was hardly ideal for the Heat without having played a game for two weeks and then being in lockdown unable to train last week in Perth.
To top that off three of their best and most important players Robbie Glendinning, Ford Proctor and Nathan Wiles didn’t join them on the plane to Melbourne for this week's unique playoff schedule with the champions to be crowned on Sunday.
There was a lot working against the Heat as they strolled out onto Melbourne Ballpark on Thursday afternoon, but by the time they walked off they had advanced to Friday's qualifying final and had reset the playoff records in the ABL in the process.
The 26 runs scored by the Heat smashed the previous playoff mark which was 18. The 26 runs were made up of seven home runs from Perth and 23 hits including the remarkable fourth inning made up of 11 of those runs including three of the seven homers for the game.
Two of those home runs in the fourth inning came from Shane Sasaki alone and the Tampa Bay Rays prospect broke some individual ABL playoff records in his own right.
The Hawaiian sensation not only hit the two home runs but he drove in a record eight batters to score in the game, eclipsing the previous mark of six in the ABL post-season.
On top of that he scored five runs with four hits and was walked twice in a stunning performance to help cover the loss of Glendinning and Proctor.
Sasaki was far from the only star with the bat for the Heat. In fact aside from Maddux Stivey who only stepped up once late in the contest, every batter scored during the game.
Ulrich Bojarski finished with four runs, Jess Williams three, Sam Kennelly three, Abiezel Ramirez three, Alex Hall three, Jake Bowey two and Grant Witherspoon two.
Sasaki wasn’t the only batter to have fun clearing the Melbourne Ballpark fence either with Hall also hitting two homers while Witherspoon and Bojarski did as well. That was Bojarski's first home run of the season.
Bojarski also had four hits for the game as did Sasaki while Bowey and Tim Kennelly had three apiece, and Williams, Sam Kennelly, Ramirez and Hall all two each.
It was the most remarkable of batting performances from the Heat to send quite the message to open the playoffs, but the pitching performance deserves to be credited as well.
Jacob Lopez stepped up to start for the Heat and the Rays prospect was outstanding through the opening four innings only allowing the one run while dishing out six strikeouts.
He was then relieved firstly by Daniel Schmidt, Cameron Lamb and Tom Bailey who closed the deal for the Heat to secure the 26-6 final scoreline.
Most importantly from a pitching point of view was the fact that none of Dylan Unsworth, Beau Sulser, Warwick Saupold or Zac Reininger were required and kept their arms fresh for later in this playoff push.
The big win moves the Heat straight into Friday night's qualifying final back at Melbourne Ballpark against either the Melbourne Aces or Canberra Cavalry.
A win there and it's straight into the championship game on Sunday. But even with a loss and the Heat have another chance to qualify in Saturday's preliminary final.
By Chris Pike.
ABL PLAYOFFS, SEMI-FINAL 2
PERTH HEAT 26 (Sasaki 5, Bojarski 4, S Kennelly 3, Williams 3, Hall 3, Ramirez 3, Bowey 2, Witherspoon 2, T Kennelly)
ADELAIDE GIANTS 6 (Mead 2, Little 2, McArdle, Wingrove)
W – Cameron Lamb; L – Tyler Burch
Thursday February 11, Melbourne Ballpark
IMAGE: SMP Images