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McOwen, Beard honoured for Rd. 6 dominance
12/12/2011 6:09 PM ET
James McOwen takes a powerful hack
James McOwen takes a powerful hack (SMP Images/ Charles Knight)
Perth outfielder James McOwen, last year's Helms Award winner, has received his first Player of the Week honour of the 2011 season. He is joined by Canberra right-hander Hayden Beard, who was named the week's top pitcher. McOwen had outstanding production across the board in Round Six, picking up eight hits, knocking in four, and stealing three bases in leading the Heat to a series win at Brisbane. Beard was outstanding in helping the Cavalry to their lone win over Adelaide, pitching seven shutout innings and striking out three on Saturday.

McOwen, Perth's leadoff hitter, picked up base knocks in each game of this week's series, extending his hitting streak to seven and raising his batting average to .367, third-best in the ABL. He has four multi-hit games, 10 runs scored and six RBI during the streak. He finished the series against Brisbane with a .533 batting average (8-for-15), including three doubles and a triple. He also got on base another three times via bases on balls, adding up to a .611 on-base percentage.

His best game of the series came in the second match-up of Friday's doubleheader, in which he picked up three hits (two doubles and a triple), walked once, scored a run and drove in two. All of McOwen's production in the game was essential, as the Heat edged out the Bandits by a 6-5 margin. For the season, the left-handed hitting outfielder now leads the league with 10 stolen bases and also ranks in the top five in runs scored (16, t-3rd) and on-base percentage (.449, 4th). Of his recent base-stealing tear, McOwen quipped, "Brooke Knight is making me run a lot. He keeps making me go."

Honourable mentions for the batting award included McOwen's teammate Brenden Webb, Adelaide's Calvin Anderson and Denny Almonte, and Kody Hightower of Canberra.

The Australian right-hander Beard picked up his third consecutive victory in Saturday's start, which tied him for second-most wins in the league. He dominated over seven shutout innings against the powerful Bite lineup, allowing just four hits, walking three, and striking out a trio of Adelaide batters. He has allowed just 10 base hits in his last 19 innings on the mound.

Picking up the victory for his team on Saturday showed how important Beard is to the Cavalry. Even after dropping the other four games of the series, Canberra was able to hang onto third place positioning, a game ahead of Sydney and 1.5 games ahead of Melbourne. Cavalry General Manager Peter Bishell explained Beard's importance to the team by saying, "Hayden is not only a great pitcher, but a great kid. He is one of the emotional leaders of this team and he has backed it up on the mound," adding that he is excited to see his pitcher take the field in the ABL's inaugural All-Star game, on 21st December.

Runners up for the pitching award were the Heat's Geoff Brown and Warwick Saupold, along with Dushan Ruzic and Ryan Beckman of the Adelaide Bite.

In Round Seven, McOwen and the rest of the 'Alcohol Think Again' Perth Heat will host the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces, while Beard's Canberra "UberGlobal" Cavalry will travel to Sydney to take on the Blue Sox. In the third series of the round, the Brisbane Bandits will play host to the Adelaide Bite.

Fans can follow games through individual team streaming and radio partners. The ABL also offers the popular Gameday technology, which tracks live pitch-by-pitch action at www.theabl.com.au.

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