PERTH, 25 January - Over 2000 fans were in attendance to see the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat jump to outright third in the standings with a massive 11-3 victory over the Melbourne Aces at Barbagallo Ballpark Friday night.
As the Bandits dropped their second straight in Sydney, the Heat knew they could climb back into the top three with a win. With Warwick Saupold (1-1, 2.59) on fire early, the Heat were able to draw first blood for the first time in 10 games as Jesse Barron scored Brenden Webb on a single to right in the second.
The Aces would bounce back, opening the fourth with four straight hits. With the scores tied and the bases loaded without recording an out, Saupold remained composed to induce a double play and a strikeout to get out of the inning without allowing another run.
Aces starter Kevin Reese (2-6, 4.13) looked dominant on the mound through six innings as the Aces struck again with RBIs to Josh Davies and Aaron Sayers, giving Melbourne a two run lead.
The seventh inning started quietly for the Heat as Jesse Barron flew out to left, but the Aces pitching imploded as nine straight Heat batters reached base safely in an eight run onslaught. RBIs to Corey Adamson, Carter Bell (2), Allan de San Miguel (3) and Bonomi put the Heat up 9-3 in an inning that was capped off by de San Miguel's three-run home run to left field.
As Adam Millson came in to relieve Saupold after his 7 inning effort as the Heat continued to pile on the runs. Luke Abels walked the bases loaded and then walked Barron to score a run. Aaron Bonomi hit his second sacrifice fly of the night to complete the Heat's 11-3 victory.
Allan de San Miguel's three run blast highlighted the night for the Heat's offence, which seems to be gaining confidence late in the season.
"We're building some momentum and we gotta keep it going. We win tomorrow and win the next day and we'll take this into next week and then we'll be in good shape." Said de San Miguel.
The Heat broke their regular season record with 2073 fans through the gates, something that did not go unnoticed by the players in this make or break series.
"This is the Heat of old. This is what we're all about. It's good to bang in some runs and it's good to have a walk-off hit last night right in front of this great crowd. Tonight was a great turnout and we want to see more of it."
Aaron Bonomi said the Heat's comeback was helped by being able to get to Aces starter Kevin Reese out of the game in the seventh.
"Reese threw really well, changing his speed and started using his changeup as the game went on. I think when we got him out of the game it just flowed from there. It's good to get the bats going and get some momentum going and hopefully we can carry it though to Sunday and make it happen."
Coming into the game, Steve Fish's biggest concern was the ninety pitch restriction placed on Warick Saupold.
"I tell you what. He was really efficient. It was what (Pitching Coach Graeme Lloyd) Lloydy and I were talking about today. We really needed Waz to be as efficient as possible and give us at least six innings and he was able to go out and give us seven and still keep it under ninety pitches."
Canberra's win in Adelaide means that the best possible result for the Heat is third place in the standings. With the Heat building momentum in their final series at Barbagallo Ballpark for the year, Fish is confident that if the Heat keep this form to make the playoffs they will be on track to make it matter in the postseason.
"It comes down to us talking third place right now, I think second place might be out of reach. We just have to take care of business and play well and hopefully play well going into the playoffs if we can get that spot."
"The magic number is two for us now, and our goal is to take one of those magic numbers tomorrow and we'll see what happens come Sunday."
Starting at 4:05pm on Saturday, Daniel Schmidt will take to the mound for the Heat. If the Bandits drop their third straight to Sydney tomorrow the Heat will be able to clinch with an Australia Day victory.