Heat import eyes up the prize
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.