Perth Heat opened up its double-header on January 7 with a thrilling clash against the Adelaide Giants in the Brisbane Hub.
Thanks to the complications of COVID-19, it was Perth’s turn to take part in two games on the one day against different opponents.
The Heat had every right to enter the back-to-back games feeling buoyed, after claiming a 5-1 win against the Brisbane Bandits on the 5th and a 12-2 thumping of the Giants on the 6th.
But what eventuated between the Heat and Giants was the best game of the Australian Baseball League season thus far, and it couldn’t be decided in normal time.
The game got off to the best possible start for the Heat, thanks to Grant Witherspoon.
The Tampa Bay Rays prospect ended up getting home, when Robbie Glendinning got on base after a Giants fielding error.
That 1-0 lead remained for the Heat until the bottom of the seventh.
Reigning ABL Pitching Champion Dylan Unsworth was proving unhittable, with the South African showing he could very well be the best pitcher in the league once again.
During his more than five innings at the mount, he delivered five strike-outs and conceded only two hits and zero runs.
He received some good relief from Alan Strong, and the Heat were on track to win.
Perth was still leading 1-0, with Adelaide at bat for the last time in the bottom of the seventh.
The Giants tied the scores which saw an extra innings needed for the first time this season.
Neither team could score in the eighth, but that all changed in the ninth.
A single from Ford Proctor allowed Jess Williams to score from third for the Heat, and then the lead grew to 3-1 on a sacrificial flyball from Sam Kennelly.
The lead had Perth in a good spot, but the Giants had Rixon Wingrove.
With two runners on base, Wingrove needed to hit a home run.
He stepped up to bat in the bottom of the ninth, before hammering it out of the ballpark.
His homer led to the Giants’ stunning 4-3 win, despite Perth being on top most of the game and doing plenty right.
The Heat then came back out onto the field in the Brisbane evening to take on a Bandits team chasing its first win of the season.
Brisbane started well with a couple of runs in the opening inning, and the side was able to keep that momentum going.
The team scored at least one run in each of the opening five times at bat.
That included three runs in the fourth and fifth inning, as the lead grew to 10-1 for the home side.
The Heat opened their account in the top of the fifth, when Ulrich Bojarski scored after hitting a single.
A couple of fielding errors from the Bandits saw him get home.
Perth got another run in the sixth, with Glendinning getting walked and then making it home after a single from Proctor and flyball from Bojarski.
In front of a lively home crown, the Bandits still managed to win 10-2.
PERTH HEAT 3 (Witherspoon 2, Williams)
ADELAIDE GIANTS 4 (Wingrove 2, Williams, Mead)
W – Michael Gahan; L – Zac Reininger
PERTH HEAT 2 (Bojarski, Glendinning)
BRISBANE BANDITS 10 (Walker 2, Unroe 2, Battaglia 2, Campbell 2, Dutton, Wade)
W – Sam Holland; L – Tom Bailey