PERTH - The Claxton Shield is back in familiar surroundings, and the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat are champions once more.
Behind a dominant effort from starting pitcher Brian Baker, the Heat wrapped up a sweep of the Canberra Cavalry, driven by Rolfe Renault, with a 2-1 Saturday victory in Game 2 of the Be the Influence 2014 ABL Championship Series presented by ConocoPhillips at Barbagallo Ballpark. The win gives the Heat their third Claxton Shield premiership in four ABL seasons and gives Western Australia a fifth crown in the last seven years of national competition.
Baker set the tone early for the Heat, and his team's bats got him support early. In the bottom of the first inning against Cavalry starter Ethan Cole, Perth's offensive leader Brandon Tripp singled to bring in Corey Adamson with the game's first run and give the home team a 1-0 lead.
With the advantage, Baker was strong and steady. The Heat's recent import addition to the rotation didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning and didn't allow a run until two innings after that. By that time, Perth had doubled their lead to 2-0 on the strength of an Allan de San Miguel RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Canberra's Cole (L, 1-1) limited damage by allowing just two runs on ten hits over 5 2/3 innings but was saddled with the defeat.
In the seventh, Canberra's Jeremy Barnes connected for a solo home run on just his team's second hit of the day, but it wasn't enough. Baker (W, 1-0) and reliever Cameron Lamb got out of the seventh inning, and former ABL Pitcher of the Year Warwick Saupold did the rest.
Over two digs of relief, Saupold (S, 1) struck out four against one walk and didn't allow a hit to earn the save. In the ninth, the Detroit Tigers prospect struck out Barnes for the leadoff out, struck out Jack Murphy to follow, and induced a flyout from Mike Crouse to end the night and send the Heat into a jubilant celebration, their third such party in four ABL seasons at Barbagallo Ballpark.
After his Friday night heroics that ended in a walk-off hit in the bottom of the 14th, Perth shortstop and Colorado Rockies prospect Joey Wong went 2-2 with a double on Saturday. Wong was named Championship Series Most Valuable Player for his efforts. Kennelly brothers Matt and Tim each had two hits, as well, in Perth's Game 2 win.
Perth won the Claxton Shield in the ABL's first two seasons, but Canberra captured ACT's first baseball crown a year ago. Now, the Shield returns to a place it has called home more times than not in recent years. The pursuit of a title defence begins in earnest for the Heat. The 2014/15 ABL season begins in November.