PERTH 8, February - With every big final out over the last few weeks Warwick Saupold would unveil the fiery fist pump as he left the mound. Saupold with the now famous fist pump completed a 1-2-3 ninth with a fly ball to center from Mike Crouse that set off a monster celebration as the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat won back the Claxton Shield with a 2-1 win over the Canberra Cavalry driven by Rolfe Renault 2-1. The Saturday night win in the Be the Influence 2014 Australian Baseball League Championship Series presented by Conoco Phillips capped a near year long wait for the Heat to reclaim the Claxton Shield from Canberra. When George Barber made the final catch in right field Perth secured their third championship in four years of the ABL
The Heat jumped out in front in the first inning to set the early tone. Corey Adamson singled to get the night rolling off of Canberra starter Ethan Cole. Joey Wong then put down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Adamson to second. Adamson then stole third with Tim Kennelly at the plate. Kennelly then worked a one out walk to put runners on the corners. Brandon Tripp with an aggressive approach in his first at bat took the first pitch he saw and hit a rope to right field for an RBI single to score Adamson and the Heat had a 1-0 lead. Tripp was the ABL RBI leader during the regular season and is an MVP candidate would pick up his 42nd RBI on the year. Kennelly and Tripp were aboard at first and second for Luke Hughes who stepped in next. Cole was able to fight back and get Hughes swinging on strikes for out number two and then get Matt Kennelly on a foul pop up and the Heat inning was over.
The Heat hit the third with the rally train passing from east to west and looked like a big inning was in the works. Joey Wong picked up a single off of Cole to start the inning for the Heat to reach first. Tim Kennelly legged out an infield single to put runners at first and second for Brandon Tripp. Cole took Tripp to a full count and got a big "strike em out throw em out" double play on Tripp and Wong trying to steal third for the first two outs. Luke Hughes then followed with a fly to right and the game stayed at 1-0.
Brian Baker was locked in from the start and held Canberra hitless through the first four innings with the help of his defence and working ahead in the count to keep Canberra off the score board. Jack Murphy who might be making his final appearance in a Canberra uniform picked up the first hit for the Cavalry with a leadoff triple off of Baker in the top of the fifth. The Cavalry would have three chances to tie the game and get the fan favorite and adopted son of Canberra home but the Heat worked a high wire act to keep it at 1-0. Mike Crouse reached on a fielding error at third by Sam Kennelly but Kennelly would get a chance at redemption a few batters later. With Michael Wells at the plate Crouse was gunned down on a close play at second caught stealing by Allan de San Miguel to Luke Hughes for out number one. With Murphy still lurking 90 feet away at third Michael Wells went down on strikes for out number two and Baker's second k. Jason Sloan then hit a hard grounder to third that Sam Kennelly picked clean and got Sloan at first for out number three and leaving Murphy standing at third.
The Heat had a leadoff single that looked to start a rally in the fourth but the Cavalry got a 4-6-3 twin killing to erase that momentum and then in the fifth after the Heat dodged the leadoff triple Perth would threaten again. The Heat picked up a two out Joey Wong double one of two hits for him on the night to left field. Tim Kennelly then moved Wong to third with an infield single his second of the game as well. With runners at the corners Brandon Tripp and Ethan Cole would face each other for a third time with runners aboard. Tripp won the first two but Cole for the second time won this matchup getting Tripp to fly to center for out number three.
The Heat finally cashed in their insurance policy in the sixth inning and as it turned out it was a big run. After Baker picked up his second 1-2-3 inning the Heat got a Matt Kennelly triple to the right center field gap to set up Allan de San Miguel. The Heat catcher who is number two in post season RBI with seven for the Heat four behind Tim Kennelly picked up a base knock over the drawn in infield sending the ball to right over the heads of the Cavalry fielders. Cole then was able to get Sam Kennelly on a foul pop out and then would be pulled from the ball game. Jeff Lyman would then get the final out by retiring George Barber on a strike out swinging but the lead was 2-0.
Cole was a batter shy of a quality start for Canberra. It was the second night in a row the Cavalry were a batter away from pitching six complete innings. Cole scattered 10 hits walking one with four strike outs to keep Canberra in the game all night. Canberra would cut the lead in half with one swing in the top of the seventh when Jeremy Barnes launched a solo home run to left with one out to make it 2-1. Baker would issue a walk to Jack Murphy and that would finish the night for the right hander. Baker allowed just two hits tossing 6.1 IP in the Heat's 33rd quality start and for Baker his second of the season. Baker walked three and struck out two. Cameron Lamb then would enter the game and was able to get Mike Crouse to ground into a force out at second to force out Murphy for out number two. Then Joey Wong flashed the leather again with an outstanding play to get the red hot Jason Sloan on a bang bang play at first to end the inning for Canberra.
Canberra would threaten in the eighth after Warwick Saupold came in for the Heat and got the first out. Jon Berti then would walk but Saupold was able to get Ben Warner on a strike out looking with a big hook that froze Warner. Berti stole second but Saupold followed that with a strike out swinging of Casey Frawley to end the threat. The Heat could not score in the eighth so they went to the ninth where Saupold would strike out the first two he faced in Ben Warner and Jack Murphy. The South Perth product and Detroit farm hand then retired Mike Crouse for the final out with a fly to right. Saupold notched the save working 2.0 IP with 4 strike outs.
In the end Brian Baker (1-0) picked up the win for Perth in his most impressive start for the Heat. Considering the Georgia native allowed just three earned runs on the season and as a starter just three in 11.0 IP. Baker would finish with four earned runs in three starts of 17.1 IP and finish with an ERA in Australia of 1.62. Ethan Cole (1-1) was charged with the loss in a valiant effort for Canberra.
Joey Wong was named MVP of the ABLCS adding to his All-Star game MVP. Wong was spectacular with the glove at short stop and went 4 for 9 with a game winning RBI on Friday night in the series opener. Wong a member of the Colorado Rockies organization helped turn what was the league's worst defence last season into one of the best this season.
Fist pumps were in order as the post-game celebration continued on a Barbagallo Ballpark as Saturday turned to Sunday. The Heat will celebrate as they head their various directions for the ABL off season and the US season with the Claxton Shield safe and sound back in WA. The now famous fist pumps will never go away for all the Heat.
-The Heat and Cavalry played the last four ABLCS games with the records at 2-2. The teams have played three one run games and played a two run game last year.
-The Heat are now all-time in the current ABL 13-5 in post season with a 9-3 record at Barbagallo.
-Matt Kennelly was 4 for 8 in the series with an RBI.
-Between Friday night's second inning and Saturdays 7th the Heat pitching staff combined to shut out Canberra for 17.0 consecutive innings.
-Brandon Tripp with a hit extended his hitting streak to 8 games for Perth.
-A night after the 7-8-9 spots went 6 for 13 for Canberra with all three of their RBI the Heat held the same three local spots to a 1 or 8 mark and no RBI.
-The top 5 in the batting order were a huge difference Saturday. Canberra went 2 for 17 while Perth 6 for 17.
-The Heat held Canberra to a 3 for 20 number with runners in scoring position in the series and 0 for 5 Saturday.
-Jack Frawley will finish his Heat career with 20.0 post season innings to lead the club with Warwick Saupold second with 16.0.
-Tim Kennelly with his RBI joined Luke Hughes with 10 post season RBI Friday night.
-Joey Wong going 2 for 2 pulled even with Brandon Tripp with 17 multi-hit games for the Heat this season.
-Perth out hit Canberra .263 (21/80) to .195 (15/77) in the series. Canberra hit .247 for the post season.
-The Heat starting pitching closed out the season over their last nine games with 11 ER in 64.1 IP with a 1.54 ERA.
-The Heat will carry a seven game winning streak into the 2014-2015 ABL season.