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Aug 18

Perth Heat hits stride in first series of Australian Baseball League

Alex Burkard in action against the Sydney Blue Sox. Photo: SMP ImagesIt took two games of the new Australian Baseball League season for reigning champion Perth to find its stride.
Nanjing Night Net

But when it did, it was awesome to watch.

After losing 4-9 to the Sydney Blue Sox on Friday night and 3-7 in the first game of Saturday’s double-header, the Heat kicked into gear.

It leveled the series 2-2 with a 5-0 shutout on Saturday night and then a blistering 20-9 victory on Sunday.

The strength of the Heat’s defence was at full force in game 4 as Tim Kennelly enjoyed five hits and batted in four runs, while Luke Hughes batted in five runs from his three hits and .

Jordan McDonald, the 22-year-old Perth boy returning home from a stint at college in the US, was the surprise packet though.

He batted at an impressive average of 0.553 for the opening series to lead all Heat hitters over the weekend. McDonald batted in two runs in each of Friday and Saturday’s losses and then another in Sunday’s slugfest.

He enjoyed eight hits from his 15 at bats over the four games.

The Blue Sox threatened to claim the series on Sunday, after taking a 5-0 lead at the top of the second innings courtesy of a Tyler Bortnick grand slam off Tom Bailey. Baily didn’t make it to the mound for the third inning.

However, Matt Kennelly and McDonald both also hit home runs for Perth in the second inning to keep the hosts in the contest. The contest that was blown apart by the champs when they piled on 12 runs between the sixth and seventh innings.

Alex Burkard, backing up from two innings pitched on Friday night, picked up the win on Sunday for the Heat after the Blue Sox failed to score from him in four innings pitched.

It wasn’t the greatest weekend for Perth’s starting pitchers though.

Shawn Sanford pitched for 4.0 innings on Friday night, giving up eight runs; Cameron Lamb had six runs scored off him in the the two innings to start the first game on Saturday; and Baily gave up six runs in 2.1 innings on Sunday.

Sanford also took to the mound in Sunday’s win and had another three runs scored from his 1.2 innings pitched.

In Saturday’s second game, Brian Baker gave up just two hits and no runs in the first three innings before being replaced on the mound by Scott Mitchinson, who picked up the win with 22 strikes from 30 pitches thrown.

Perth heads to Adelaide this week to tackle the Bite, which lost the last two games of its away series to the Brisbane Bandits, but still tied 2-2 over the season’s opening round.  Follow WAtoday on Twitter

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.