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Heat crush Sox in opener, Sydney claim finale
Schmidt strong for champs in early victory
12/15/2012 4:48 AM ET
Mitch Dening blasted an insurance homer in Friday's nightcap.
Mitch Dening blasted an insurance homer in Friday's nightcap. (Theron Kirkman / SMP Images)
PERTH, 14 December - The Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat were able to maintain their slim lead on top of the ABL standing as all of the three double headers were split across the league with each team picking up one win.

The Heat (13-8) jumped out of the blocks early at Barbagallo Ballpark to secure a runaway 10-2 victory against the Sydney Blue Sox (11-10) in game one before succumbing in the nightcap 6-4.

Daniel Schmidt threw his best performance of the season as the Heat hitters broke their recent funk to score 10 runs in the first four innings. Schmidt allowed four baserunners through his six innings of work and didn't allow an earned run. With his fourth win from six starts, Schmidt moved to the outright lead in the league for wins.

Corey Adamson and Josh McGee were again the highlights for the Heat, as both players had multiple hit and RBI games, while Sydney starter Tim Atherton (1-1, 2.40) had his first bad start of the season lasting only three innings while giving up four runs (three earned).

The Blue Sox moved into game two of the double header confident behind their ace Chris Oxspring (3-0, 1.41), however Oxspring was shaky early allowing four runs through the first two innings. Fortunately for Oxspring his adversary Anthony Claggett (3-2, 3.03) had an even rougher start, being shelled for six runs and eleven hits through his five innings of work. It was the tail of the Blue Sox order that did most of the damage, as Geoffrey Klein, Shane Benson and JD Williams put up multiple hit nights, while Mitch Denning hit one of the biggest home runs ever seen at Barbagallo Ballpark, with the ball crashing on to the roof of the outfield shed.

Oxspring spoke of his start, where he held on for the win after struggling against the Heat early.

"I felt like I was battling the elements. I made an adjustment later on in the game and it kept us in it and gave us a chance to win the game. The boys did well to come out and score enough runs for us to win, and more that than anything that's what really matters."

"These guys have always got my back." continued Oxspring. "We all go out there with the same mentality that it's always going to be a close game, so you always need to be on your game. These guys swung the bat really well today against Claggett, who's a really dominant pitcher. For us it was important to go out there and score runs after being beaten up in the first game."

Despite losing the last game, manager Steve Fish was pleased the Heat's bats were able to come through with 14 runs for the night. "It was great in the first game, and we came out swinging against Oxspring in game two so I was really happy with that. We had Oxspring's pitch count at around 45 to 50 through two innings but we let him off the hook a little and we started being a little too overaggressive so he managed to stay out for another five innings and get the win."

Interestingly, the Heat have won all of their games behind their local arms of Mitchinson and Schmidt, while their highly touted imports are yet to manage a win against Sydney this season. "Schmidt's bailed us out of a couple jams this season after we lost the first game of the series. He just went out and did what he does. He competed and kept guys off balance and did a great job for us."

If Mitchinson can replicate the Schmidt's efforts in tomorrow finale, not only will the Heat avoid a series loss to the Blue Sox, but they will secure a win of the season series thanks to a superior run differential. "I told the guys that if we split tomorrow then we'll win the series because of the run differential, which will have good playoff implications for us."

Mitchinson (2-2, 3.86) will face Sydney's Tim Cox (1-2, 4.50) in tomorrow all important decider starting at 4:05pm.

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