Melbourne Aces are back-to-back Australian Baseball League champions after overpowering Perth 9-2 in Friday night’s Championship Game at Melbourne Ballpark.
Tyler Beardsley provided a strong start on the mound and the Aces’ offence did plenty of damage with two outs to secure Victoria’s 24th Claxton Shield.
GAME CENTRE: Box score and play-by-play
Melbourne scored all nine of its runs with two outs, including seven in the sixth to break the game open after the Heat had closed within a run.
The two-out damage supported a strong start by Beardsley.
He worked six one-run innings, striking out two and allowing six hits and a pair of walks.
Chris Burke drew a two-out walk following a seven-pitch battle against former big leaguer Warwick Saupold to prolong the bottom of the sixth and the Aces took advantage to blow a close game wide open.
Nine straight Aces reached as Melbourne turned a one-run lead into an eight-run cushion.
Jarryd Dale’s triple scored Burke and Jake Romanski (single) ahead of Blake Gailen’s two-run homer making it 5-1.
RBI singles from Delmon Young and Damek Tomscha followed by a wild pitch from Perth reliever Beau Sulser capped off a seven-run inning for the Aces.
Cameron Gibbens replaced Beardsley in the top of the seventh and struck out the bottom of lineup.
He struck out one more and recorded two outs in the eighth ahead of Josh Tols taking over on the mound.
Tols retired Jake Bowey to end the eighth
He returned in the ninth and gave up a solo shot to Alex Hall ahead of closing out a second-straight championship for Melbourne.
The Aces took the lead in the second on Burke’s two-out single after Tomscha doubled.
Melbourne doubled its lead in the third but left the bases loaded to miss out on adding more.
Dale and Willis singled to start the inning and Young drove in a run with a two-out base knock for the Aces.
Heat starter Dylan Unsworth hit Tomscha with a pitch to load the bases but was able to strand three runners and prevent more damage after striking out Gift Ngoepe.
Unsworth went 3 2/3 innings, allowing the two runs on seven hits.
He stuck out four.
Zac Reininger worked 1 1/3 scoreless relief innings ahead of Saupold entering.
Dale and Willis led the Aces with three hits each.
Jake Bowey and Alex Hall had two hits for Perth.
Friday night’s game became the Championship Game, rather than a Qualifying Final, under the ABL’s playoff protocols for the impact of COVID-19 or weather.
The protocols were called into action after Victoria announced a five-day lockdown from 11.59pm on Friday.