2017/18 ABL R6 – Perth v Canberra
30 Dec 2017 22:00 AEST
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Perth can tighten its grip on a top-two spot when it hosts Canberra starting on Friday night.
The Heat sit a game clear of the Cavs in second entering the second half of the season, but could have been further clear after failing to take advantage of a 2-0 series lead over Canberra in round five.
Perth was forced to settle for a split as the hosts fought back to take the final two games.
The Heat will return home where they have compiled a 4-4 record this season with a chance of consolidating a top-two spot.
Perth welcomes shortstop Robbie Glendinning, who will make his ABL debut, while Matt Kennelly returns to the bullpen.
Glendinning is a WA product drafted by Pittsburgh earlier in the year out of college.
The Heat will be aiming to build on their .500 record at home and create a buffer between second and third entering the final month of the regular season.
Canberra’s offence has taken a whack with the loss of Connor Panas and Ryan Kalish as it looks to stay in touch with the top two.
While Kalish was underperforming, Panas had been dominant and led the Cavs with five home runs in the first half of the season.
Canberra has plenty of other offensive weapons, as does the Heat, including Jay Baum and David Kandilas.
Both teams will use the same four pitchers in their starting rotation as the round five battle.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
CAVALRY – Casey McElroy: With the departure of Connor Panas and Ryan Kalish, McElroy will be the big winner with more playing time. The 27-year-old is hitting .360 in seven games with the Cavalry and will play an important role in keeping Canberra’s offence rolling.
HEAT – Robbie Glendinning: Drafted by Pittsburgh in the 21st round of the 2017 MLB draft, Glendinning will finally make his ABL debut. The 22-year-old shortstop enjoyed a solid college career and made his Minor League debut after being picked by the Pirates, hitting .198 in 29 games for the West Virginia Black Bears.
Heat 3-1. Just like in Canberra, it should be another tightly fought contest between the Heat and Cavs, two of the league’s most enjoyable to watch offences. But with Perth’s ins and Canberra’s outs, the Heat look the goods to get the extra win and move further clear in second spot.