Twins prospect de San Miguel earns series MVP honors
By Craig Durham
Special to MLB.com |
The Perth Heat captured their second consecutive Australian Baseball League championship, and their fourth title in five years, by taking two out of three from the Adelaide Bite over the weekend in Adelaide. The Bite rallied to win the opener 3-2 on Friday night, but after a 5-3 extra-innings victory on Saturday, the Heat left little doubt with a 12-5 drubbing in the decisive third game on Sunday night.
Game 1, Adelaide, 3-2
The opening game of the 2015 ABL Championship series was one for the ages. Trailing 2-0 going into the bottom of the seventh, the Adelaide Bite came out swinging, receiving back-to-back-to-back home runs from the Australian trio of Stephan Welch, Tim Brice and Mitch Dening to take a 3-2 lead that would carry them to victory. The homers came off Perth starter Mike McClendon, a former Major Leaguer, after McClendon began the game by allowing just three hits in his first six innings.
Perth opened the scoring with a first-inning home run from DH Tim Smith and made it 2-0 in the fourth on Rene Tosoni's RBI single. Adelaide starter Morgan Coombs earned the victory, allowing just one earned run on six hits over seven innings. Astros prospect Tyler Brunnemann earned the save.
Twins prospect Allan de San Miguel led the way for Perth, going 2-for-2 with a double.
Game 2, Perth, 5-3 (10 innings)
With a chance to clinch, the Adelaide Bite struck first, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on Stephen Welch's second solo shot of the series. Welch, who has spent time in the Mets, Pirates and Red Sox systems, hit .307 for his hometown Adelaide this season, collecting seven home runs and 31 RBIs in 37 games. The home run came off Tigers prospect Warwick Saupold, who did not allow another run in his five-inning start.
Perth got on the board in the third, starting the inning with back-to-back home runs from Braves prospect Matt Kennelly and Phillies prospect Brian Pointer to grab a 2-1 lead.
The Heat expanded the lead to 3-1 in the top of the seventh on Joey Wong's RBI single. It was the first hit of the series for Wong, a Rockies prospect and last season's ABL championship series MVP.
For the second consecutive night, however, the Bite turned it on in the bottom of the seventh, scoring twice to tie the game at 3. The inning began with a leadoff home run from first baseman Chris Adamson, who has hit just two homers in 115 career regular-season games over four seasons for Adelaide. Dodgers prospect Brandon Dixon followed with a double, and he came home on a double from Astros prospect Chan Moon one batter later.
Still tied at 3 in the top of the 10th, the Heat made their move. With two out and a man on first, left-handed Mariners prospect Will Mathis was summoned to face Tosoni. Mathis hit him with a pitch before serving up a two-run double to Allan de San Miguel that proved to be the game-winner.
Jorge Marban, now a part of the Red Sox system, earned the victory, allowing just one hit and one walk over three sparkling innings of relief that featured seven strikeouts.
Game 3, Perth, 12-5
Buoyed by their extra-innings win on Saturday, the Perth Heat stormed out of the gates on Sunday night, building a 6-0 lead after an inning and a half, and cruising to a victory in the final game of the ABL season.
The game began with a leadoff walk to Joey Wong, and Tim Kennelly, the second batter, blasted a two-run homer to open the scoring against Adelaide starter Wilson Lee.
Perth added four more runs in the second, the first two coming courtesy of doubles from Brian Pointer and Kennelly. After Kennelly's double made it 4-0, the Bite went to Tonny Vocca in the bullpen. Tim Smith greeted Vocca with a two-run homer, his second long ball of the series, and the Bite found themselves down by six.
After Adelaide got one back on Dening's home run in the bottom of the second, the Heat put it out of reach in the fourth when they piled on three more runs to make it 9-1. The big hit in the fourth was a two-run single from de San Miguel, who earned MVP honors by finishing the series 4-for-11 with four RBIs.
Red Sox prospect Mike McCarthy earned the victory for Perth, tossing 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Daniel Schmidt. McCarthy struck out seven while allowing four hits and a walk in his only outing of the championship series.
Dening finished the series 5-for-11 with three home runs to lead Adelaide. The two teams combined to hit 14 home runs in the three game series.
Perth's second consecutive ABL championship, and fourth in the last five years, comes after the team went 10-13 prior to the All-Star break. The club finished the season by winning nine of 10, including the postseason.
Craig Durham is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.