Virgil Vasquez pitched 7.2 solid innings for the win. (SMP Images/ Theron Kirkman)
PERTH, 28 January - The Heat scored nine runs for the second consecutive evening, winning 9-4 over the Aces on Saturday night to take a 2-1 lead in this best-of-five ConocoPhillips Postseason Round One series. Perth scored four runs in the first and never looked back, leading throughout thanks to a solid start by Virgil Vasquez, who struck out five and allowed four runs through 7.2 innings. Dylan Jones knocked in three and stole a base in his first game action this Postseason.
After Melbourne scored on in the top of the first on a Justin Huber RBI single, Perth once again got on the board in the bottom half of the frame. After scoring five in their first at-bat in game two, the Heat put up a four spot on Aces starter Jeff Jamnik, sending eight batters to the plate.
Speedy second baseman Mychal Givens placed immediate pressure on Jamnik, leading off the inning with a triple. Following a four-pitch walk to the next batter, Brenden Webb, a wild pitch past catcher Scott Wearne allowed Givens to race home from third, tying the score. Kennelly's ensuing single moved Webb to third and he scored when Allan de San Miguel grounded into a double play. Jones doubled later in the inning to drive home two more runs, sending Perth into the second with a 4-1 advantage.
They added to the lead with three more runs in the fourth. Jones picked up his third RBI of the night when he scored James McOwen with a single to right and then came home when Givens got a base knock to the same field. Brenden Webb drove in the final run of the frame on a ground ball that reach left fielder Joshua Hendricks, who limited the damage by throwing out Givens attempting to advance to third base. Nonetheless, the Heat held a 7-1 lead after four innings.
While Perth's hitters were able to add to their score, Vasquez remained effective on the mound and didn't allow Melbourne to threaten. After surrendering a run in the first, he tossed six consecutive shutout innings, retiring 18 of the 19 men he faced from the second inning through the seventh. He was eventually forced from the game when the Aces were able to score three in the eighth, but not before getting deep into the game and earning the victory, striking out five and allowing eight hits in 7.2 innings.
The eighth inning was Melbourne's best shot at a comeback, as they sent nine men to the dish and scored three runs in the frame. With Darryl George on base and two outs in the innings, Elliot Biddle, Brad Harman, and Justin Huber strung together three straight hits, the last of which was a double that knocked in two and made the score 7-4 Perth.
After Huber's double, Heat closer Benn Grice entered. He first hit Kevin David with a pitch and then allowed a single to Mitch Ayres, but was then able to retire Scott Wearne for the third out without surrendering a run. He then retired the side in order in the ninth, inducing three straight groundouts, to pick up his first Postseason save.
Perth now leads the series 2-1 and needs just one more win to host their second consecutive ABL Championship Series. Melbourne will need to sweep a Sunday doubleheader if they wish to host. Game Four will commence at 3:00PM Sunday. If the Aces win to force a deciding fifth game, it will begin 30 minutes after the completion of Game Four.
This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.