Still Playing Baseball Down Under

[Blog Update: The Perth Heat won the 2011-2012 Australian Baseball League title with a 7-6 win over Melbourne in 13 innings…and James McOwen scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch. Here is a game story from an Australian TV station and some video highlights from the ABL website

While 2012 Seattle Mariners Spring Training about to kick off with Pitchers and Catchers reporting to Peoria tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 11), they are still playing baseball Down Under in the Australian Baseball League Championship Series.

The Perth Heat lead the Melbourne Aces 1-0 in the best-of-3 Championship Series. Mariners farmhand James McOwen was the hitting hero for Perth in series-opening 4-1 victory. McOwen went 3-for-4 with a home run and 2 RBI. His solo home run to lead off the 4th inning (off former Mariners pitcher Travis Blackley) proved to be the game winning RBI. The game was replayed on the MLB Network, and James was a guest on the post-game show.

Mariners minor leaguer James McOwen is playing for the Perth Heat. (Theron Kirkman / SMP Images)

McOwen hit .293 (49×167) with 15 doubles, 2 triples, 1 home run, 14 stolen bases and 11 RBI in 41 regular-season games with the Heat. He has heated up during the playoffs, ranking 2nd in the ABL batting .455 (10×22) with one home run and 4 RBI.

James is featured in a Championship Series Spotlight on the Perth Heat website. He is in his second season playing in the Australian Baseball League, winning the Helms Award for the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2010-11 (.340, 11 HR, 30 RBI).

In four seasons in the Mariners farm system, McOwen has combined to bat .289 with 27 home runs and 220 RBI in 403 games. After sitting out the 2010 season with a dislocated left shoulder, he split last season between A High Desert (.291, 6 HR, 27 RBI) and AA Jackson (.261, 4 HR, 26 RBI). Mariners fans may remember James from his California League-record 45-game hitting streak in 2009, the 8th-longest in minor league history.

Fans can tune into the second game of the championship series online tonight (4:35 p.m. PT) via the Australian Baseball League website, or on a tape-delayed basis at 9 a.m. PT Saturday on the MLB Network.

James McOwen has been a star in the Australian Baseball League the last two off-seasons. (Perth Heat)

- JE

1 Comment

Will he be invited to spring training this year?

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