Sunday, 12 February 2012
Perth Heat secured their second straight Australian Baseball League title with a 7-6 win over Melbourne Aces in a marathon 13-inning deciding game at Barbagallo Ballpark on Sunday.
The Heat twice overcame three-run deficits to draw level before James McOwen scored from third base on an Andrew Russell wild pitch in the fourth extra inning to give Perth a 2-1 championship series victory.
Outfielder McOwen scored two runs and drove in another to help propel Perth to the title, while catcher Allan de San Miguel also played a crucial role with a two-run home run.
The Aces were 11/1 outsiders to win the championship mid January when they faced a struggle to secure a playoff spot late in the regular season but fell heartbreakingly short of an upset victory.
Elliot Biddle starred in the deciding game with two hits and three runs batted in for the Aces, who had tied the series with a 3-2 13th-inning victory on Saturday.
Jack Frawley was the winning pitcher on Sunday, while Russell took the loss.
Melbourne got on the board in the top of the first inning when they loaded the bases and Biddle tripled to drive in all three runners but the Heat tied the game after de San Miguel's home run.
The Aces took the lead back in the second inning on a Brad Harman two-run single and extended it to three in the next frame, but Perth levelled once again at 6-6 after Matt Kennelly drove in a run in the fourth and his team scored two more in the fifth.
Pitching dominated until McOwen was hit by a pitch in the 13th and advanced to third with two outs when Russell's wild pitch allowed him to slide home.
Perth won Friday's opening game 4-1.
Heat manager Brooke Knight said victory was due reward for a dominant season.
"Wow, what a series," Knight said.
"I'm so happy for our boys and our supporters, who have been great. This is a great honour."
While proud of his side, Aces manager Phil Dale admitted the home side came up with the clutch plays when it mattered most.
"It's obviously disappointing and it's tough. But we battled and we gave as good as we got," he said.
"It was a tight game and we couldn't come up with a key hit at the right time and, unfortunately, they came up with it."