Adelaide Bite 4, Perth Heat 3
The Bite opened the Australian League’s championship series with a win over the Perth Heat on Friday. Perth began the scoring with a run in the bottom of the 1st, on a single and an RBI double from the first two batters in their lineup. The Bite tied the score in the top of the 3rd. After a pair of lead-off singles by 1B Ben Wigmore and 2B Josh Cakebread, a sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. 3B Stefan Welch drove in the tying run with a ground out to first base. Adelaide took the lead in the top of the 5th, with more firepower from Welch. Wigmore and Cakebread again opened the inning with a pair of singles, and again a sacrifice bunt moved them into scoring position. Welch lined a double in to right field, scoring both Wigmore and Cakebread. Another single drove in Welch, and LF Quincy Latimore also singled, moving another runner into scoring position. A double play ended the rally. The Heat rallied in the bottom of the 6th, with three singles, a walk, and an RBI ground out producing 2 runs, but that still left them one run behind the Bite. The Bite had only one runner reach base over the last three innings of the game, but they held off rallies by the Heat in each of the last two innings. In the 8th, a two-out double and a single had the Perth pinch-runner rounding third and heading for the plate, but a perfect throw from CF James McOwen let C Brandon Bantz tag the runner out at the plate to end the inning. Another two-out double and a hit batter put two runners on base for the Heat in the bottom of the 9th. Adelaide reliever Adrian Burnside came in to make the final out with a grounder to third base, ending the game. Latimore also singled in the 4th inning, but was left on base.
An Australian double header early on Friday morning:
Game One: Canberra Cavalry 3, Adelaide Bite 1
Pirate farmhand Rinku Singh earned his first win for the Cavalry, in a pitching-dominated game. Former Altoona Curve pitcher Paul Mildren pitched the entire (7 inning) game for the Bite. He allowed only one hit over the first three innings, and another single in the 4th. Mildren got out of a jam in the 5th — a walk and a double put two runners into scoring position with one out. The next batter tapped one back to the mound, and Mildren returned the ball to his catcher, who tagged the lead runner out at the plate. A pop out ended the inning. But in the bottom of the 6th, Mildren gave up a double, an intentional walk, and another double, which brought in 2 runs. Two more singles added a third run for the Cavalry.
The Bite were also scoreless in all but their last at-bat. They put runners on base in every inning, but could not bring them around to score. LF Quincy Latimore led off the 4th inning with a single, then moved to second base on a wild pitch. He got to third on an error, but was left there when the inning ended. The Bite also left two runners on base in the 5th inning. In the 6th, back-to-back singles put two Bite runners on base with one out. The Cavalry made a pitching change, bringing in Rinku Singh. Singh ended the inning with a strikeout and a ground out, stranding the two runners. Singh came out to begin the 7th inning with a 3-run lead (and so was the pitcher of record, to get the win). He gave up a walk, then got a strikeout. A fielding error and a single by Latimore loaded the bases, and Singh was replaced. The new pitcher, Chris Morgan, walked the first batter he faced, forcing in the Bite’s only run of the game, but then got a double play to end it.
Game Two: Cavalry 11, Bite 6
Latimore also had two hits in this game, but the Bite’s 5-run 7th inning couldn’t stand up to their total meltdown in the bottom of the 5th, when the Cavalry scored all 11 of their runs. The night-cap began like the first game, with pitchers in control. The Bite had only two hits and a walk scattered over their first 5 innings, though one of the hits was a solo homer by DH Brandon Bantz in the 4th. The Bite pitching allowed only 2 hits to Canberra over their first four innings. Then came the bottom of the 5th: walk, single, throwing error (2 runs), triple (run #3), double (#4), walk, missed catch error to load the bases, single (#5,6), single, single (#7), double (#8), wild pitch (#9), walk, triple (#10, 11), then finally, a ground out and a pop out to end the inning. Oh, and both of those triples were by pinch-hitter Donald Lutz, who came out of the game after that inning.
Latimore doubled with two outs in the 6th, but got no further. The Bite rallied in the 7th, but weren’t even close to catching up. With one out, three consecutive singles brought in one run, then a walk loaded the bases. A double drove in two runs, then Latimore brought in the fourth run by beating out an infield hit to short. Another single added run #5, but that was all they could get.
The same two teams play another double header on Saturday.