CANBERRA, 17 January- It took two flips of the calendar year but the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat will once again host the ABL Championship in Perth 6 February. The Heat punched their ticket to hosting the series in their own yard by beating the Canberra Cavalry driven by Rolfe Renault 6-0 Friday night at Narrabundah Ballpark. The Heat also unveiled another new weapon in the debut of Brian Baker making his first start for Perth. The Georgia native was solid from the "get go" in a 66 pitch performance through 6.0 IP showing why he was brought over to provide depth to the Heat pitching staff that is shaping into post season form.
The two teams locked into a tight affair for the majority of the ball game with the Heat jumping out front in the top of the third. George Barber would send an Ethan Cole offering deep to left center field for his third home run of the season. That shot ended a three game homer less streak for Perth. The Heat would then go in order but had a 1-0 lead and that is the way the game would stay on the scoreboard until the seventh.
Baker retired the first nine he faced in his first swing through the batting order as the Heat had the lead. Jon Berti would get the first and only hit for Canberra off of Baker in the bottom of the fourth inning with Casey Frawley following with the only walk allowed by the Heat right hander. With runners at first and second Baker got a double play ball from Jeremy Barnes to get the first two outs and then retired Jack Murphy with a fly to center field to leave the runner at third and ending the best chance for Canberra on the night.
Canberra had no answer for Baker who then came back and retired the next six batters he faced in three up and three down fashion in the fifth and sixth inning. The Cavalry's Ethan Cole also kept things close for Canberra going toe to toe with Baker. The Heat would leave a man on base in both the fourth and fifth but Cole kept the game at 1-0. Cole would retire the Heat in order in the sixth matching Baker as they headed to the seventh.
In the top of the seventh the Heat cashed in and put the game on ice with some big insurance runs. Matt Kennelly singled to start the inning then Allan de San Miguel drove a ball way out to left field for a two run shot and his third homer of the season. Alex Stuart would single next and the Heat chased Cole from the game. Eric Massingham replaced Cole for Canberra and got George Barber on a swinging strike out and Corey Adamson on a ground ball to first that moved Stuart to second. Joey Wong worked a walk off of Massingham to put runners at first and second. Tim Kennelly then shot one back up the middle for a single scoring Stuart to make it 4-0 Heat.
Brendan Wise came into the game for the Heat in the bottom of the seventh to replace Baker. Baker would finish the shut out appearance with 6.0 IP and allowing just the one hit while striking out three. Jeremy Barnes picked up a one out single for Canberra but Wise came back to get Jack Murphy to ground into an inning ending double play on some nice glove work on tough 3-6-3 twin killing from Matt Kennelly to Wong covering second and back to Kennelly. The Heat stranded a man in the top of the eighth and Wise was even better in the bottom of the inning retiring Canberra in order.
The Heat would pick up two more runs to put it way out of reach in the ninth inning. Facing Chris Motta who came in for Canberra in the eighth George Barber walked and then stole second with Corey Adamson at the plate. Adamson the ripped a ball into the right field gap for a triple sending Barber home for a 5-0 Heat lead. Joey Wong then singled to right on a sharp ground ball to bring Adamson home at the Heat were set at 6-0.
Wise then sent down the Cavalry in order getting Jon Berti to strike out to end the game. Wise earned his sixth save in the shut out while Baker (1-0) picked up the win in his first start. Cole was tagged with the loss for Canberra (4-5) who lost for their fourth straight. The Heat continued to set season high mark going to 14 games above .500 and extending the winning streak to eight straight games. Perth by holding Canberra to just two hits set a season low beating the previous total of three set on three different times the last was 30 December against Melbourne.
With the win the Heat also secure the season series over Canberra regardless of what happens the rest of the way. The magic number now eliminated the Heat will press on in the series while Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne all separted by one game will fight it out for the final two spots. The Heat also have allowed only one run in first two games at the fort.
The two teams will play game two Saturday at 4:00PM WST with Anthonty Claggett going for the Heat and Sunday LHP Daniel Sschmidt gets the nod at 9:00AM WST.
FUN's over! With the play offs approaching, things are getting intense. The Heat are giving it everything they've got to make it to the finals. We need your support so show your Heat pride by making it down to one of the final series of the season against Adelaide in our Team Spencer Series. 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.