Aces outlast Heat in 13 to force deciding Gm. 3
Harman knocks home winning run in 13th
02/12/2012 12:12 AM ET
PERTH, 11 February - Game Two of the ConocoPhillips ABL Championship Series was a second straight pitcher's duel, with the Aces coming out on top this time, 3-2, in 13 innings, sending the series to a deciding Game Three. The Aces bullpen combined to pitch 8.1 shutout innings, with Kevin Reese going the last three for the win. Brad Harman was the offensive hero for the winning side, knocking home the go-ahead run with his 13th-inning single and playing spectacular defence all night. Mitch Graham had four hits for the Heat. Sunday's Game Three will begin at 4:05 WST with the winner taking home the Claxton Shield championship trophy. In a repeat of Friday's game, each starting pitcher came out firing. Perth's Warwick Saupold, the Pitcher of the Year, induced three double play groundouts in the first four innings, getting himself out of each situation unscathed. He went 6.1 innings, allowing just two runs, both of which were unearned. Melbourne's Nic Ungs matched his performance through the first four, allowing base runners in each inning but working his way out of each jam without surrendering a run. He showed his mettle in the second, when he worked around a pair of Scott Wearne errors, which left runners on second and third with just one out. In this potentially hazardous situation, Ungs came up with his best pitches, forcing consecutive groundouts by Matt Kennelly and Corey Adamson to get out of the inning with the game still scoreless. The Heat were first to break through, putting a pair of runs on the board in the fifth. Mychal Givens led off the inning with a high chopper over the head of third baseman Scott Wearne and used his speed to stretch it to a double. After advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt, he came home on Tim Kennelly's fly out to deep left, scoring the game's first run. Perth then started a two-out rally, as Allan de San Miguel doubled down the left field line and Mitch Graham followed with an RBI single, giving the Heat a 2-0 lead. Aces manager Phil Dale decided not to hesitate in making a pitching change, calling on Bubbie Buzachero to replace Ungs. The move paid off, as Buzachero forced a James McOwen groundout to escape the inning. Ungs finished the game having allowed six hits and two earned runs in 4.2 innings. In the top of the sixth, Melbourne rewarded their pitchers' efforts by climbing back into the game. Josh Davies reached on an error and Dominic Ramos followed with a single off Saupold. Wearne then laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line, sacrificing the runners to second and third with one out. Saupold then retired Brad Harman for the second out, but Justin Huber came through in the clutch with his first hit of the series, knocking home both runners to tie the score. Huber has an ABL-best 13 RBI during the Postseason. After the score got to 2-2, the pitching battle returned, with each team going scoreless through the ninth inning to force extras. The Aces had a great chance to take a lead in the 10th, as John Edwards led off with a single and Dominic Ramos had another with one out, putting runners on first and second. That brought Scott Wearne to the plate, but Cameron Lamb got him to ground into an inning-ending double play, the fifth of the game for the Heat defence. In the 11th, the Heat had their shot to walk off with the victory. James McOwen led off with a single and moved up to second on a Dylan Jones bunt, bringing Matt Kennelly to the plate. He hit the ball hard in the hole to the right of shortstop Ramos, who made an excellent play to retire the batter. The next batter was Corey Adamson, who smoked one at second baseman Harman, who made the second consecutive outstanding defensive play for Melbourne, sending the game to the 12th inning. Once the game reached the 13th, Harman made sure it would end there. In the top of the inning, the ABL home run leader hit a two-out RBI single to centre, scoring Josh Davies for the first run in seven innings, giving his team a 3-2 lead. Harman then began the bottom of the inning with a spectacular defensive play to rob Allan de San Miguel of a base hit. Back-to-back singles then put runners on first and third for the Heat, but Kevin Reese got a strikeout against Jones and forced Matt Kennelly to ground out, finishing off his third inning of work for the win. The Aces bullpen was outstanding, with Buzachero, Andrew Russell, and Reese combining to throw 8.1 shutout innings, allowing just six base runners and striking out five. After two great games, the series now goes to a winner-take-all Game Three on Sunday. Undefeated left-hander Geoff Brown is expected to start for the Heat against Jeff Jamnik of the Aces, who won the Round Two clincher against Sydney. Game Three begins at 4:05 WST Sunday and will be televised live on Fox Sports 2 and also broadcast live on ABC Grandstand and 91.3 SportFM Perth. For complete broadcast information, please visit www.theABL.com.au.
This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.