SYDNEY - The Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat completed a sweep of the ABL Preliminary Final Series, presented by Fielders Choice, with an 8-6 win over the Sydney Blue Sox at Blue Sox Stadium Saturday evening.
With their 2-0 series victory, the Heat secured their third straight Championship Series starting in Canberra on Friday evening.
After some struggles through December and January, Heat manager Steve Fish was happy that everything had come together for the Heat at the right time.
"It feels great. I told those guys it's not what you do at the beginning or the middle, it's how you wrap it up at the end. It's six wins in a row for us and we intend to go about our business next week and go for seven and eight. These guys are fired up and ready to defend their title."
The Heat piled on eight runs off former Major Leaguer Brad Thomas (0-1) in the opening four innings on the back of solo home runs to Tim Kennelly and Allan de San Miguel and RBIs to Carter Bell, Michael Ohlman and Sam Kennelly.
Corey Adamson set the tone early hitting a first pitch double to centre field. Kennelly and Hughes loaded the bases with no outs and Allan de San Miguel and Michael Ohlman drove in two runners to take an early lead.
The Blue Sox tied things up with RBIs to Boss Moanaroa and Michael Lysaught in the second, but Warwick Suapold (1-0, 3.00) settled from there, keeping the Blue Sox scoreless for the next four innings while striking out seven.
Tim Kennelly, Luke Hughes and Michael Ohlman loaded the bases in the third and Carter Bell stepped up with a single to drive in two runs. Ohlman would score on a wild throw on a pickoff attempt and Sam Kennelly drove in Bell to put the Heat up by four.
The Heat would send Thomas from the mound in the fourth as Tim Kennely and Allan de San Miguel smashed home runs to centre. In a dire situation and facing elimination, Jason Pospishill made an unconventional move to bring in his Game Three starter, Chris Oxspring to the mound. The move almost payed off, as Oxspring shut down the Heat offence with 3.2 scoreless innings and striking out six batters.
When Blue Sox closer Matt Williams came in for the eighth the Heat could almost taste the series victory, however Williams was able to keep the Heat bats from scoring as the Blue Sox rallied late against Scott Mitchinson and Brendan Wise. With a run in the eighth and three more in the ninth inning, the Blue Sox had the winning run at the plate with only one out. As an unlikely comeback became a possibility, Brendan Wise induced a crucial grounder from James Robinson to shortstop. Ryan Khoury stepped on second and threw to first for the double play and securing a third straight Championship Series place.
After weeks of making occasional appearances for the Heat, last season's MVP Tim Kennelly got two full outings and made it count with four hits, two RBIs and a Home Run for the series.
"We struggled a little bit throughout the season and we're just happy to be in the playoffs again."
"This season just shows the depth we have in WA. There's a lot of guys who haven't had much game time over the years, and they've stepped up for us and filled that role well all year. With guys like Luke Hughes back for the Championship Series, it certainly helps the team."
The Cavalry have been somewhat of a bogey side for the Heat this season, but the Perth Heat will go into the series brimming with confidence on the back of a six game winning streak.
"To sweep against Melbourne when we knew we had to was huge. We pitched so well and it gave us huge momentum coming into the Preliminary Final. We hadn't really built any momentum before that series, losing three to Brisbane, so the sweep definitely helped our confidence coming into this weekend."
Tickets are selling fast for the ABL Championship Series, presented by Futuretronics and it is anticipated allocations will be very limited. Tickets to the series in Canberra can be purchased on line here. and stay tuned to the Heat's website and facebook page in the coming days for more information on potential travel packages in the coming week.