The Perth Heat are the champions of Australian baseball for the third time in four seasons. For the Heat production from all aspects of the game were just one of the many reasons they reclaimed the Claxton Shield.
Without doubt the high point of this season has to be the defeat of the Canberra Cavalry in the ABLCS in a sweep of two games. These two games were tight from the get go. Tough pitching combined with clutch hitting made for two very entertaining games that will continue to assist in the growth of baseball within Australia. Starters Jack Frawley and Brian Baker provided solid starts for the Heat in game 1 and 2 respectively with major contribution from eventual series MVP Joey Wong who illustrated how valuable he has been for the Heat throughout the course of the season.
Overall, there many highlights that could have been chosen for the Heat throughout the course of the season. But one that stuck out for me personally is Joey Wong’s walk off single in the 14th inning that gave the Heat victory over the Cavalry. It had been a long night at the ball park, the game at this point had lasted well over three hours, yet the fans remained and were still as vocal as they were at the start of the night. Then almost out of nowhere, Wong drove in Corey Adamson bringing the home fans to their feet celebrating what was a crucial victory for their home town Perth Heat.
In a season where a team wins the championship it can be very difficult to pick out a low point. However, there were a few moments that represented some periods where the Heat did not have it going all their way. One of these moments was the loss of Tucker Nathans who had been great for the Heat batting .280 with three homers and 23 RBIs in 38 games. Fortunately for Nathans he is currently rehabbing in Florida and should be ready for spring training.
Another low point was the departure of Mike Ekstrom who had been exceptional since arriving at the Perth Heat. Ekstrom had an amazing line of 5-1 record, an ERA of 0.72 and in 50.1 innings worked allowed 4 earned runs, quite incredible for a bloke who has major league aspirations this upcoming season.
Season Turning Event
It is very difficult to label one moment as the season turning event when you are consistently a cut above the rest. However, what can be highlighted was the sweep of the Cavalry in Perth a few days before the all-star game. It demonstrated that despite the defending ABL champs and recently crowned Asian Series champs were coming to town, nothing would stop the Heat being victorious. Excluding the last game of the series, the Heat won every game by 4 runs or more, scoring at least 5 runs. This series illustrated how difficult it would be to take a game from the Heat this season in Perth, where they amassed an 18-5 record during the regular season.
Where do they go in 2014-15
The Heat are a readymade team that will have no problem contending for their fourth Claxton Shield in five seasons. The challenge will be regaining the services of their American imports that provided such a lift for the Heat lineup and pitching staff. The Heat are a cut above the rest of the competition, their outstanding record illustrated, it will now be up to the rest of the competition to see how they can stop this juggernaut of a Perth side.