January 27, 2023

Article at Chris on Authory

Heat look for more captain heroics against Bandits

The Perth Heat will be hoping for some more heroics from champion captain Tim Kennelly after his walk off home run sealed their ABL playoff position last weekend.

The Heat needed one win in their home series in the last round of the regular season at Empire Ballpark against the Melbourne Aces to secure their playoff spot.

Winning all four games of the series would have kept alive a chance at top position in the southwest division too and the chance to host this weekend, but it wasn’t to be when Melbourne took the opening game 7-3 on Friday night.

It was another tight battle in the first on Saturday before captain Kennelly delivered like he has so many times before in his 376-game ABL career. He hit the walk off home run which guaranteed the Heat a place in the playoffs.

The job ahead now is a significant one against a Brisbane Bandits team in Brisbane this weekend starting on Friday night. The Bandits finished on top of the northeast division with a 28-8 record.

The Bandits and Heat now clash with a spot in the championship series at stake and Perth manager Andy Kyle will take plenty out of last weekend in terms of momentum.

"It was a really tough one last weekend. Our goal was to try to win every game and put the pressure on the Adelaide Giants playing Geelong to try and get the No. 1 seed," Kyle said.

"But we knew we were always up against it with them playing Geelong who had been knocked out and we weren’t sure how much they would be able to commit to that series. 

"For us, the No. 1 goal was to win a game to make sure we qualify for playoffs and the Aces were playing some really good baseball having won five in-a-row. 

"So we knew they would be coming in red hot but that Game 2 was pretty exciting and seeing Tim Kennelly hit the walk off it created a great atmosphere at the ballpark. It was a great way to get our playoff place clinched."

Speaking of Kennelly, Kyle wouldn’t want anyone else leading his group and he's confident that with him in the line-up, they are always going to be a chance of upsetting the Bandits in Brisbane.

"What a career he's had and that's why he is the captain of Australia and the Heat," he said. 

"What he does year to year, and the presence he brings and the ability to have good at bats when it's needed. He's just a phenomenal athlete."