Heat im­port eyes up the prize

Canning Times - - SPORT -

HE may still be get­ting his head around a coun­try where base­ball is not the na­tional pas­time, but Tris­tan Gray does not feel like a fish out of wa­ter.

The Hous­ton-born bat­ter, on con­tract to the Ma­jor League Base­ball out­fit Tampa Bay Rays, has been one of many Perth Heat high­lights as they chase their first ti­tle since 2015.

Com­ing from a coun­try where base­ball is king can present hur­dles for Aus­tralian Base­ball League im­ports such as Gray.

The 22-year-old, who has played for mi­nor league sides West Vir­ginia Black Bears and Char­lotte Stone Crabs, said he was ad­just­ing well to life in Aus­tralia.

“I haven’t played base­ball in De­cem­ber be­fore in my life; play­ing all these games is some­thing I def­i­nitely had to get used to, but it’s been great so far,” he said.

“Get­ting used to driv­ing and just liv­ing over here prob­a­bly was the big­gest part; the base­ball was the eas­ier thing about it all.

“I’ve never done any­thing like this be­fore.

“See­ing a whole other cul­ture has def­i­nitely been eye-open­ing, but I’ve loved it so far.”

He put the ease of ad­just­ment down to his team­mates help­ing him set­tle in.

“The guys are pretty help­ful in telling us im­ports where to go and what to do and what to see; ev­ery­one’s been really help­ful,” Gray said.

Gray sits sec­ond in the league for runs (34), is fourth in home runs (a team best nine) and is equal sec­ond among Heat bat­ters for hits (42) to help them sit equal top of the South-West Con­fer­ence with one se­ries to play.

Game talk has turned to po­ten­tial post-sea­son suc­cess and while Gray said the team was not get­ting too ahead of them­selves, their fo­cus was clear.

“We’re ex­pect­ing win,” he said. to PERTH Heat have se­cured their Aus­tralian Base­ball League play­off spot after claim­ing a 3-1 se­ries win over Gee­long-Ko­rea at Perth Ball­park.

Two vic­to­ries, ei­ther side of a hard-fought win, sealed the host’s spot in the post-sea­son, de­spite a 13-10 loss in game four.

The Heat need to match Mel­bourne’s record against Auck­land next week­end to se­cure a home semi-fi­nal.

Perth Heat started the se­ries on fire, scor­ing six runs in each of the first two in­nings en route to 15-7 vic­tory in game one.

They then had their pitch­ers to thank in a nail­bit­ing shutout win in game two, as Nick Veale tossed six shutout in­nings and Josh Rawl­in­son claimed his first ABL win with three score­less in­nings.

The teams were dead­locked in the sev­enth in­ning be­fore Ul­rich Bo­jarski and Rob­bie Glendin­ning scored to seal vic­tory.

In game three, Tris­tan Gray hit two home-runs and fin­ished with seven RBIs for a 19-1 thrash­ing.

The se­ries ended dis­ap­point­ingly how­ever, as Perth fell to a high-scor­ing ex­tra-in­nings loss, which saw them lose the South­West Con­fer­ence top spot.

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