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Bell's big blasts drive Heat to 5-0 record
Claggett goes seven innings to earn win
11/18/2012 2:21 AM ET
Carter Bell (l) and manager Steve Fish celebrate a Bell homer.
Carter Bell (l) and manager Steve Fish celebrate a Bell homer. (Theron Kirkman / SMP Images)
PERTH, 17 November - With a 9-4 whitewash of the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces at Barbagallo Ballpark, the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat moved to a 5-0 record to start the season in their quest for a third straight title. Two home runs from Carter Bell gave Heat starter Anthony Claggett (2-0) the support he needed early on as the Heat ran away with the game late with a six-run seventh inning.

Allowing only three hits, Heat starter Anthony Claggett threw a gem over seven innings. Claggett walked one hitter while striking out four and Aces starter Hirotaka Koishi bamboozled the Heat hitters with ten strikeouts for the night. Only Carter Bell got to the Seibu Lions pitcher early dispatching two long home runs over the left field wall to score the Heat's first three runs. The seventh inning saw a pitching change from Aces manager Phil Dale with NPB pitcher Yuta Nakazaki entering the game. Nakazaki put the game into the Heat's favor walking three hitters with one out which forced manager Dale's hand to bring in John Hussey to face Luke Hughes. Facing Hussey, Luke Hughes promptly hit a bases clearing triple that was backed by RBI hits from Josh McGee, Allan de San Miguel and Sam Kennelly extending the Heat's lead 9-1.

Instead of going down quietly, the Aces bounced back by loading the bases against a wild Tim Kennelly. Kennelly struggled with his control, walking Aaron Sayers to score a run and a Carlo Tesla groundout would score Josh Hendriks. A wild pitch with Brad Harman at the plate would bring in the Aces third run of the inning, but Kennelly was able to end the eighth inning with a Justin Huber flyout. Brendan Wise pitched the ninth inning, shutting down the Aces to keep the Heat's perfect season record intact.

Much like the night before, the Heat's pitchers were full of praise for Allan de San Miguel, whose calls kept the Aces quiet for a second straight night. "Allan does a great job behind the plate." said former Yankee Anthony Claggett. "When pitcher and catcher are on the same plan everything goes smoothly. I trust him to ask for anything and I never really questioned his calls tonight."

"Claggett started getting ahead of the batters and he's got such good stuff he's hard to lay off." said Steve Fish on Claggett's repertoire. "Everyone went after his slider and splitter tonight but his fastball sinks so he was able to get a few important grounders and some double plays to get us out of a couple jams."

With two home runs, Carter Bell was happy to perform in front of the 1619 fans in attendance tonight. "It was nice to break out, especially in front of the home crowd. It's awesome playing here and it was good to secure the series win tonight".

"I was looking for a good pitch up to hit." said Bell about his first home run. "Koishi wasn't throwing fast enough to overpower me so I was looking for a good pitch up in the zone so I could drive it. In my at bat before the second home run I just missed a heater inside so I was looking for another, and this time I didn't miss it and got it over."

Bell credited the Heat's trip to Asia with helping him handle Koishi this evening. "Going to Korea definitely helped the team to adjust to the different style of Asian pitching, and it showed with the guys later in the game. The timing today was different and you just got to see it on deck and take that in to the at bat."

At the age of just 16 Sam Kennelly picked up his first professional hit, coming off calls from his manager that he might just be the best ballplayer of the four brothers. To honour the historic occasion, Fish saved the ball from his first hit and RBI for Luke Hughes to present after the game in the changerooms. "Standing in that box I was nervous as hell," said Kennelly. "I just wanted to get one back up the middle and I was lucky enough to do that. The crowd was behind me and that was big for me as I've never experienced that before."

Scott Mitchinson will start for the Heat who are looking to get their second straight sweep to start the season, while Sam Gibbons takes to the mound for the Aces looking to break through against the potent Heat offense. "We're going right after them for the sweep," said Steve Fish. "We need to try to win as many as we can early as things could get tough later on, so we're going to keep putting pressure on the other teams early in the season."

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