It had started out so well. Coming off a 39-13 win loss record in the 2011/2012 season, the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat tore out of the blocks with seven runs in the very first inning of the season in Adelaide, and followed through with an opening round sweep.
It sent out a warning to the rest of the league that the Heat were just as strong in a bid for a third straight title, except one team didn't get the memo.
In a season where the Heat matched it with the rest of the league, the Canberra Cavalry would be their downfall in the regular and post-season. From their ten clashes through the year, the Heat lost eight to Canberra, including a two game sweep in the Championship Series that saw the Claxton Shield go to the ACT for the first time.
After a dominant title defense in 2012, the 2013 season was all about consolidating and building for the future. In came former Baseball WA Youth Development coach Steve Fish to manage the Heat in replacement of the departing Brooke Knight. Joining Steve Fish was from fresh local faces such as Sam Kennelly, Josh McGee, Matt Dixon, Jordan Dyer, Sam Shipway, Jesse Barron and Anthony Daniele. With senior Heat players spending much of the season rested by their big-league clubs, the future of the Perth Heat was on display for most of the season.
In his second year in the ABL, 20 year old Corey Adamson led the league in average throughout before being overtaken by eventual Triple Crown winner Adam Buschini of Canberra. Despite missing out on the title, Adamson was one of the league's standouts, hitting .321 and showing some speed in the leadoff position with ten stolen bases.
Even with most of their senior squad returning late in a push for the playoffs, the Heat would not have made their third straight postseason without significant support from their rookies and younger players. Josh McGee (.302), Jordan Dyer (.300) and Jesse Barron (.294) all hit well for the Heat in their debut season to keep the Heat within touching distance of the top three.
The Heat's long standing relationship with the Baltimore Orioles continued this season, playing host Michael Ohlman, Steve Bumbry and the returning Brenden Webb. Ohlman's late season run helped propel the Heat into the Championship Series with a .317 average that included a team leading six home runs. Fellow Oriole team-mate Allan de San Miguel put in another consistent season for the Heat, with a career best .294 average and five home runs to his name.
Former Heat number one starter Daniel Schmidt started the 2013 season in the bullpen with a dominant one-two punch of Virgil Vasquez and Anthony Claggett on the mound alongside returning Heat pitcher Scott Mitchinson. Schmidt battled for a starting place and Steve Fish's trust in the lefty plaid off with a Heat record seven wins for the season. Virgil Vasquez dominated early in the season, throwing a complete game shutout of the Melbourne Aces in Round Three. Vasquez' work in Australia was eventually rewarded, signing with the Twins mid-season resulting in an early departure.
Sitting in fourth place with a round to play, the Heat needed to sweep their final series to Melbourne to have a reasonable chance of making the playoffs. In came reinforcements as Tim Kennelly, Luke Hughes, Warwick Saupold and Benn Grice for the playoff push. Over the four games against Melbourne, the Heat of old came back to life with four straight wins to sneak into third place, a game ahead of the Brisbane Bandits. With their must sweep series behind them, the Heat looked as good as ever into their post-season series against Sydney.
Sydney were no pushovers. They boasted by far and away the league's best pitching roster and a powerful offence to boot. The Heat had to be at their very best in the best of three series, and dispatched the Blue Sox with a surprise two game sweep. Suddenly the Heat found themselves on a six game winning streak and looking toward their rivals in Canberra. Even after being dominated by the season's minor-premiers earlier in the season, many had doubts if the Cavalry would be able to handle a revamped Heat squad with plenty of post-season experience.
The upstart Cavalry weren't reading the script, and probably didn't pay much heed to the Heat's previous success in the league with a team dominated by players in their first ABL season. With a hitting line-up featuring six straight hitters above the .300 mark, the Heat were unable to overcome some crucial errors as the Cavalry shone on the big stage in-front of their home crowd.
With expectations through the roof at the start of the season, the Heat still did not disappoint at season's end. It's was their third straight appearance in the ABL championship series, and seven members of the Heat squad can now look forward to the World Baseball Classic, where Luke Hughes, Tim Kennelly, Matt Kennelly, Warwick Saupold, Allan de San Miguel, Brendan Wise and Corey Adamson will have the chance to take on the best players from Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
The Heat's "magnificent seven" will be able to draw on their Asia Series experience against Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean squads in their previous two Asia Series tournaments. Despite going winless in their trip to Busan in 2012, the Heat will have plenty to take from an experience that included a clash against the Yomiuri Giants, considered to be one of the greatest baseball teams in the world. In a true David vs Goliath battle, the Heat held their own through six innings leading 1-0 on the back of an outstanding Anthony Claggett start and a Tim Kennelly RBI. Much like this season, the game didn't finish as planned however the Heat could leave Korea with their heads held high.
Off the field, the Heat were able to extend their reach within the Perth community. On the backs of charity work with Greening Australia, the Legacy Foundation and TEAM Spencer, the Heat grew their fan-base breaking a season record with 2,074 fans during their final series against Melbourne and exceeding their attendance figures over the previous two seasons to remain the most supported club in the league. As Heat players turn their focus towards the 2013 American Baseball season, the Heat organisation will look forward to another successful season in 2014, and looks forward to seeing their fan-base back next summer for the ride.