2017/18 ABL SF – Canberra v Perth
04 Feb 2018 16:00 AEDT
GAME 1: Friday, 6.00pm AEST
GAME 2: Saturday, 6.00pm AEST
GAME 3 (if required): Sunday, 4.00pm AEST
Perth will need to overcome the hottest rotation in Australian baseball if it is to return to the ABLCS for the first time since 2015.
The Heat will host Canberra – which boasts the best ERA amongst starters since the start of the year – in a best-of-three semi-final series at Perth Harley-Davidson Ballpark.
Since January 1 the Cavs’ starting rotation is 10-2 in 16 games with a 3.46 ERA.
The success has left Canberra manager Michael Collins with a tough choice to make with one of his gun starters to drop out of the rotation and another to be slated for a game three which may not be required.
Brian Grening looks set to take game one with Lake Bachar pipping Frank Gailey for game two, and Steven Kent likely to feature out of the bullpen.
Perth will have its work cut out regardless of which of the quarter starts.
Opposition hitters are averaging just .217 against the Cavs’ starting rotation since January 1.
Funnily enough the last team to really get to a Canberra starter was the Heat.
Perth scored 11 runs – six earned – off Jonathon Mottay on New Year’s Eve as they produced an ABL record 32 runs.
Mottay is no longer with the Cavs and through January the settled rotation has been stingy.
The Heat also have enjoyed impressive outings from starters so far in 2018.
Perth’s starters have a combined ERA 5.11 in January, second behind Canberra.
Alex Boshers, Matt Kennelly and Kyle Simon are the projected starters for the Heat with Nick Veale set to drop from the rotation despite strong recent form.
Perth also enters the best-of-three series with a new look at the top.
The Heat will need to replace Jake Fraley – who scored 50 runs and stole 39 bases this season – after he returned home.
But Perth has plenty of willing contributors.
Luke Hughes has driven in 17 runs across the past month and is hitting .373 since January 1.
Tim Kennelly has a season batting average of .407 with 17 RBIs in 18 games.
While the Heat’s bright prospects, including Jesse Williams, Robbie Glendinning, Alex Hall and Ulrich Bojarski have strung together good numbers recently.
Canberra duo Jay Baum and David Kandilas, meanwhile, led the league with 28 hits each in January and will need stopping if Perth is to advance.
GAME 1: Friday, 10.00pmAEDT
GAME 2: Saturday, 10.00pm AEDT
GAME 3 (if required): Sunday, 7.00pm AEDT