Perth Heat split series with Melbourne Aces, stay top of ABL standings

Cameron Lamb (right) celebrates with Chris Betts (left) after helping the Heat secure a series split.
Cameron Lamb (right) celebrates with Chris Betts (left) after helping the Heat secure a series split.

PERTH Heat returned to the top of the Australian Baseball League standings after they split their home series with Melbourne Aces 2-2.

After a 2-1 win in game one, the hosts overcame back-to-back losses in Saturday’s double-header thanks to a late rally in game four to level the series.

The Heat are tied with the Aces for the best record in the league, having both won 11 of their opening 16 games.

Conor Lourey was the star of the show in game one as he struck out eight batters across six innings, before Tim Kennelly and Pete Kozma both crossed home plate to seal victory.

The visitors responded perfectly, taking games two and three 3-2 and 5-2 respectively in Saturday’s double-header.

While Robbie Glendinning picked up a first inning RBI double to put the hosts on the board and Pete Kozma launched his third home run of the season in game two, the Aces bullpen held firm to level up the series.

Melbourne took their momentum into the second end of the double header as Darryl George put the visitors on the board with a first inning home run off Nick Veale and two more runs in the fourth inning put the Aces in further control.

The Aces further padded their advantage with another fifth inning run and although Kozma and Chris Betts made it a one-run ballgame, Melbourne re-established their two-run cushion with a seventh inning score.

Pitchers Robert Garcia (Perth) and Jack Encoindo (Melbourne) went toe-to-toe in game four, and the former came up trumps, striking out six batters whilst giving up just one run across five innings.

Despite scoring just six runs through the first three games of the series, Perth’s league-best offence broke the deadlock in the sixth inning and never looked back, adding an extra five runs to square the ledger.