The Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat have opened up a handy two game lead over the rest of the pack with a 9-2 win over the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces behind two homeruns from Luke Hughes and a very solid start from Virgil Vasquez.
The Aces talked the talk about getting to Vasquez (3-0, 0.90 ERA) this week, but couldn't break the Heat starter down, who struck out eight batters while walking only one through his eight innings of work. Luke Hughes picked up four RBIs on his homeruns to bring his season total to 15 to lead the league.
Hughes' first homerun came in the first to give the Heat an early lead, and the Heat were able to add to their total in the second with doubles from McGee and Ohlman. A big fifth inning would give the Heat a handy 6-0 buffer with their Ace on the mound. Aaron Bonomi got the inning started with an RBI triple to score Ohlman, and Adamson and de San Miguel would come in with RBI singles of their own to force Aces Manager Phil Dale to drag Kevin Reese (0-2, 3.44 ERA) from the game.
The Aces staged a mini comeback thanks to Jarryd Rogers and Josh Hendricks reaching base to put some pressure on the Heat starter with one out. An Aaron Sayers groundout almost turned into a double play to end the inning, but a throwing error would allow Rogers to score and kept the inning alive for Liam Bedford to score Hendricks with an RBI Double. With their two run 5th inning the Aces would end a 13 inning scoreless streak against the Heat starter.
The Aces continued to put pressure on Vasquez, who was still looking for his third straight complete came of the Aces, but leadoff hits from Carlo Testa and Elliot Biddle in the 6th and 7th did enough to drive up Vasquez' pitch count to bring him out of the game after eight, despite Vasquez doing enough to prevent the runners from scoring.
Andrew Mann came in for the Aces for an outstanding relief appearance, allowing only one Heat hit through 2.2 innings, but the Heat were able to pounce on Bubbie Buzzachero, with Hughes launching a ball to centre to score Bonomi and Adamson to put the game beyond doubt. Instead of bringing back Vasquez for the 9th, Fish instead opted for 18 year old Josh Silvi, who threw a scoreless ninth, striking out Josh Hendricks to end the game.
Just like Vasquez' last pitching performance against the Aces, the Heat ace was full of praise for his catcher. "Coming out here with the defense I have and de San back there calling the spectacular games that he does, it's kind just look at the glove and fire the pitch"
"With guys like Hughesy and de San, our whole lineup really, the imports and Corey at the leadoff, it gives me a little more confidence just to attack hitters and throw pitches in the zone." Continued Vasquez.
The Heat continue their series tomorrow night in Melbourne, with Anthony Claggett (2-1, 2.37 ERA) taking on the Aces' Adam Bright (0-0, 2.31 ERA) in game one of a double header. Scott Mitchinson (1-1, 5.40 ERA) takes on the Aces Hirotaka Koishi (0-3, 4.97 ERA) in the night-cap.