A Fiasco Sports run-down of the ABLCS in all its glory.
The ABL Championship Series between the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat and the SA
Power Networks Adelaide Bite was being built up as a David versus Goliath event. The
Heat had reached the ABLCS each of the five seasons of the new ABL and had won three
of four titles contested, including beating the Bite 2-1 in the best-of-three series in 2011 for
their first crown.
The Adelaide Bite on the other hand had missed the playoffs the past two seasons but
there Claxton Shield aspirations were boosted by a regular season where they became
only the third team in modern ABL history to win thirty games in a season. South Australia
had not won a national title since 1980 and looked to bring the Shield back to home their
home soil in over thirty years.
Fortunately for baseball fans the series provided some great baseball and a truly special
Unfortunately, unlike the bible story, Goliath won.
Game One: Adelaide Bite 3 – Perth Heat 2
WP: Morgan Coombs [1-0 1.29 ERA] (7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, I ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HR)
LP: Mike McClendon [0-1 4.50 ERA] (6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 3 HR)
S: Tyler Brunnemann  (0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 0 HR)
The Perth Heat got out to an early lead in the first inning with Coombs seeming to struggle
to find command. On the other end of the spectrum, the Heat’s McClendon was keeping
Adelaide’s batters off-balance with good location and deceptive movement, keeping them
hitless heading into the third-inning.
After two innings, Coombs settled down and the pitching duel began with both Coombs
and McClendon managing to keep both offenses suppressed.
It took until the seventh-inning for the Bite offense to break the deadlock, but they could
not have done it in anymore of a dramatic fashion. A three home-run barrage started by
infielder, Stefan Welch launching a leadoff home-run over the centre-field wall, followed by
designated hitter, Tom Brice following suit. Outfielder, Mitch Dening not wanting to be left
out also decided to join the home run party, back-to-back-to-back home runs giving the
Bite a 3-2 lead.
Pitcher, Matt Williams threw a scoreless eighth-inning before running into some trouble in
the ninth. With one out and runners on first and third base, Texas-born right hander, Tyler
Brunnemann came in and got the crucial double play to shut the door and give the Bite a
1-0 series lead.
Game Two: Perth Heat 5 – Adelaide Bite 3 (F/10)
WP: Jorge Marban [1-0 0.00 ERA] (3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 HR)
LP: Tyler Brunnemann [0-1 3.86 ERA] (1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0 HR)
Confidence and crowd enthusiasm were high at Norwood Oval for Game Two with the
Adelaide Bite getting out to a 1-0 lead off a solo home-run to right-field by Stefan Welch. It
did not take long for the Heat to show why they lead the ABL in runs during the 2014/15
season, Matt Kennelly and Brian Pointer hitting back-to-back home runs in the top of the
third-inning and giving them a 2-1 lead.
The score stayed 2-1 with Perth dodging a bullet and getting out of a bases loaded jam in
the sixth-inning. Strong pitching by the Heat’s Warwick Saupold and the Bite’s Virgil
Vasquez until the seventh-inning where Perth’s Joey Wong hit a RBI single to up the
middle to give the Heat a 3-1 lead.
Adelaide would not be denied though with catcher, Chris Adamson launching a moonshot
to cut the deficit to one and shortstop Chan-Jong Moon tying it up with an RBI double,
giving the crowd new life.
The crowd were treated to free baseball, but it didn’t last long with Heat catcher Allan de
San Miguel hitting a two-run double and giving the Heat a 5-3 lead which the Bite could
not claw back from.
Game Three: Perth Heat 12 – Adelaide Bite 5
WP: Mike McCarthy [1-0 0.00 ERA] (3.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 HR)
LP: Wilson Lee [0-1 27.00 ERA] (1.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR)
Game Three really did not start the way the Adelaide Bite would have wanted with starter
Wilson Lee getting absolutely lit up by the Perth offense. A two-run home run by Perth’s
Tim Kennelly gave the Heat and ideal start, but it didn’t stop there.
In the top of the second inning, Brian Pointer hit an RBI double down the right-field line
and Kennelly showed up again, hitting another RBI double and Tim Smith put on the
finishing touches with a two-run home run to right-field to give the Heat a 6-0 lead after just
one and a half innings.
The Bite showed some fight back with Mitch Dening hitting a solo home run to claw back
a run but the Heat continued to pile on a further three runs and give the Heat a 9-1 cushion
after the top of the fourth-inning.
A three-run home run by Craig Maddox shrunk the lead down to five and a strong pitching
performance by Josh Tols gave the Bite hope, but a three-run home run all but dashed
the hopes of Adelaide holding the Claxton Shield, leaving the Bite thinking about what
could have been.
Overall while the series didn’t go the way the Bite had hoped and the Heat continue their
championship monopoly, the series was fantastic for baseball fans and helped raise the
sports’ profile here in Adelaide and also the ABL’s profile abroad with the likes of ESPN
and MLB Network providing coverage to international viewers. Ultimately, despite the
result for Adelaide fans, the 2014/15 season was a huge success.
Written by Fraser Fyfe