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Hot McCurry leads HEAT to series win
01/09/2011 1:38 AM ET
 (TEAM Image)
SYDNEY - The Sydney Blue Sox' sweep of the Perth Heat last week at Barbagallo Ballpark could have made Perth's regular season ABL title aspirations history. Now, the sweep is history.

Behind a dominant effort from starter Cole McCurry, Perth held off a late Sydney charge and put themselves one win away from matching Sydney's sweep with one of their own by virtue of a 4-3 Friday night win before 1,622 at Blacktown Olympic Park.

McCurry and Sydney starter Wayne Lundgren each settled into early grooves. Despite a second inning hiccup in which Lundgren allowed the game's first run on a Matt Kennelly RBI single that scored Ronnie Welty, the tall right-hander turned in his second consecutive solid outing. Lundgren (3-4) allowed just one run on four hits while striking out four and not issuing a walk in six innings.

The Blue Sox were unable to break through offensively against Perth's lefty, however. McCurry (1-1) was battling a head cold throughout the day, but one would never know it to look at his performance. The Baltimore Orioles prospect kept Sydney's bats off-balance until his final inning of work, striking out seven men in total over seven innings.

"McCurry came out and threw the ball pretty good," said Blue Sox outfielder Josh Dean who kept swinging a hot bat with two hits on the night. "He kept the ball down on us, kept on top of us, just didn't let us get a leadoff start. We didn't fire our bats until late, so there's not too much you can do about it. We could have tied the game up with one swing in the ninth, failed to do so, but hopefully we can get after them tomorrow."

Perth added to its lead with three seventh-inning runs. In just his second outing in the ABL, Blue Sox reliever Rich Thompson-of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim-ran into trouble, surrendering a two-run double to Ryne Price and another RBI single to Mitchell Graham to extend the advantage.

Catcher Kennelly led the Heat with a team-high three hits including two doubles.

"They swung the bats pretty well against Rich," Blue Sox manager Glenn Williams said. "A ball either here or there, a couple of balls over Boss [Moanaroa]'s head there is kind of tough. If you get one of those, we come in there with some momentum, but to the guys' credit, they went out there and swung the bats well against a guy who pitched well against them all game. Our pitchers kept us in the game and gave us an opportunity."

Sydney did finally get to McCurry in the eighth. Trailing 4-0, the Sox loaded the bases with nobody out to force the southpaw's removal. Trent D'Antonio, Trent Schmutter, and Mitch Dening all drove home runs, but it wasn't quite enough as Perth relievers Liam Baron and Brendan Wise (S, 2) closed out the eighth and ninth innings.

"We've had points during the season where we just pressed a little bit [offensively]," Williams said. "In Perth, it was just 'throw caution to the wind and go back yourself and play', and I think in the eighth inning that attitude came back. The guys are obviously disappointed. They'll keep battling, and they'll keep going. That's something they talked about, and they brought it up after the game here, that we need to get back out there and play like that."

The Blue Sox will try to salvage Sunday's series finale at Blacktown Olympic Park. First pitch for the final game of this four-game set is slated for 1.35 PM.

SUNDAY PITCHING PROBABLES: RHP Matt Zachary (0-1, 2.70) v LHP Craig Anderson (3-1, 1.71)

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.