SYDNEY - The Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat pulled off a gutsy 4-1 victory over the Sydney Blue Sox in Game One of the ABL Preliminary Final Series, presented by Fielder's Choice.
Despite having their stud pitcher in Anthony Claggett on the mound, the Heat were up against it facing the Blue Sox' Craig Anderson, who was arguably the league's best pitcher throughout the regular season with a record eight wins and leading the league with a 2.10 ERA.
Trading scoreless frames in the first inning, the Heat got on top in the second. An Allan de San Miguel walk and a Carter Bell double set the Heat up well with runners on first and third with one out. A sacrifice fly by David Amberson helped the Heat pick up a narrow lead, with Claggett looking strong on the mound.
Claggett (1-0, 1.50) allowed eleven baserunners through his six innings, but was able to remain composed and shut down the Blue Sox, who went 1-10 with runners in scoring position. The Blue Sox picked up a run of their own with a James Robbins RBI single in the fifth, and both starters exited with the scores tied in the sixth, leaving the game to a battle of the bullpens.
With Anderson out of the game the Heat capitalised on Wayne Lundgren in relief. Aaron Bonomi lead off the seventh with a single, who moved around to third base on two ground outs. Tim Kennelly came up with a clutch hit to score Bonomi and regain the lead for the Heat. Luke Hughes followed with a single and Allan de San Miguel reached first with a contentious hit by pitch to load the bases. A crucial two-out single from Michael Olhman would put the nail in the coffin for the Blue Sox, scoring Kennelly and Hughes for a handy three run buffer.
Round 13 Pitcher of the Week Jack Frawley came in to shut down the Blue Sox for two innings, striking out three batters, and Brendan Wise picked up the save to secure the victory.
With storms postponing Game One of the series overnight, Steve Fish was pleased with how his players prepared for the contest with little notice.
"We match up with the Blue Sox pretty well from here on out. The boys came out and ready to go without knowing what was going on with the weather. We didn't know we would be going to the park until two hours before the game."
"We're confident that we can go about our business take game Two and hopefully end it tonight."
The Heat are now only one win away from a third straight Championship Series berth. Warwick Saupold will get the start for the Heat, facing former Major League pitcher Brad Thomas. First pitch will be at 4:30pm WST.