PERTH, 10 January - Anthony Claggett and Brian Baker both have nine years of professional baseball experience with a combined total of 588 games pitched and 1,508.2 innings coming into this ABL season. Friday night at Barbagallo Ballpark it took the two veterans just eight innings to team up for a gem as the Alcohal. Think Again Perth Heat took down the visiting Brisbane Bandits 6-1. The vets were aided by a rising star stateside in WA native Warwick Saupold who added a scoreless ninth in the Heat's fourth straight win.
It did not start great for Claggett as the Bandits took the lead in the top of the third getting it started with a Brad Dutton single. Logan Wade then worked a walk and was followed by Marcus Bradley who moved the runners up a step with a sacrifice bunt for out number one. Joshua Roberts then walked to load the bases for Brisbane. The Bandits had a chance for a big inning but instead got a ground ball to third that the Heat turned into a force out at second to score the run off the bat of Joey Rickard. They still had a chance to pull the trigger on a big inning after David Sutherland walked to load the base for the second time in the inning but Claggett got Mathew Roxburgh looking at strike number three to keep the score at 1-0.
The lead was a short one for Brisbane as the Heat came back in the home half of the third when George Barber reached when he was hit by an Andrew Aizenstadt pitch. Barber stole second with Joey Wong at the plate and then raced home on an RBI single to center from Wong to even it all up at one. On the play Wong wound up at second on the throw coming back home and on to third on a throwing error by Aizenstadt. Tucker Nathans would bring Wong home with an RBI single and the Heat had the lead at 2-1.
Anthony Claggett then locked in and held the Bandits in check for two more innings until he was relieved by Brian Baker in the top of the sixth. Claggett (4-3) finished with 5.0 IP surrendering just one run on one hit to notch the win for the Heat. Baker making him Perth home debut set the Bandits down in order in the sixth while the Heat power stroke was set to take control of the score board.
In the bottom of the sixth the Heat blew it open as they would go deep for the seventh consecutive game. With two outs Luke Hughes was hit by an Aizenstadt pitch. Matt Kennelly picked up and infield single and the Heat did not waste the two out chance as Allan de San Miguel hit a three run blast to left his second to clear the bases and make it 5-1 Perth. That would be it for Aizenstadt as he was replaced by Craig Goodman. Aizenstadt (2-3) would go on to suffer the loss for Brisbane charged with five runs four earned in 5.2 IP. 67 49
The Heat would add another run in the seventh. Shortly after Barbagallo Ballpark PA man Paul Morgan put down his mic from singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" Brandon Tripp steeped in and hit a solo home run to center to make it 6-1. It was the sixth game out of their last seven that the Heat had hit more than one homer in a game. Rewinding to the last time the Heat did not go yard was on 29 December against Melbourne. The Heat have hit 16 balls out in the last seven games and now only trail Melbourne by one in the ABL lead in home runs with 27. The Heat have a great shot at topping their total of 31 home runs from last season but will have to really keep it up to hit 67 and 49 the numbers they had in 2010 and 2011.
Baker who joined the club on the last road trip tossed 3.0 scoreless keeping the Bandits off the board while given up 2 hits and picking up three strikeouts. Warwick Saupold took care of the Bandits with a routine 1-2-3 inning to finish the game for Perth. The Heat maintained their lead in the ABL at four games clear of Canberra who beat Sydney to keep pace. Brisbane sunk to nine games back of Perth in the cellar of the ABL but still remain alive four back of a playoff spot with 10 games to play in the regular season.
The two clubs play game three of the four games series Saturday night at Barbagallo Ballpark. LHP Daniel Schmidt (3-2, 4.33 ERA) will try to keep it going against Ryan Searle (3-2, 2.73 ERA) for Brisbane. Searle is a member of the Chicago Cubs organization and had a solid season in the Florida State League for the Cubbies.
We are getting to the business end of the season, the fun is over it's time to get serious. It's time for #BloodSweatHeat. Purchase FIVE Reserved or GA tickets online using the BLOODSWEATHEAT promo code in January and get a 10% discount on Heat Post-Season tickets. For individual tickets, season memberships or further information call (08) 6336 7950 or visit the Heat's official website at www.perthheat.com.au. All games are at Barbagallo Ballpark located at the corner of Nicholson and Wilfred Roads in Thornlie. Go Heat!