WHEN the going gets tough, the Perth Heat warm up.
The Sydney Blue Sox learned that lesson again at Blacktown International Sportspark on Saturday night.
The Blue Sox had entered the final round of the Australian Baseball League vying with the Canberra Cavalry for top spot.
They finished second and faced the Perth Heat in the play-offs on Saturday night.
Perth had eliminated them last year.
It was the Sox's third visit to the finals in the three seasons of the ABA, a competition defending champions Perth had won each time.
Perth will now defend the title again after eliminating the Sox 4-1 and 8-6, with both games played on Saturday because Friday night was a washout.
So the Heat proved Perth is just another word for pressure.
The Sox have the winter to figure why they leave their best form in the competition rounds and, yes, can't pull their socks up when it matters.
There is a compensation, however.
Six Blue Sox have made the provisional 28-man Australian squad for the 2013 Baseball Classic — outfielders Mitch Dening, David Kandilas and Chris Snelling and pitchers Chris Oxspring, Brad Thomas and Matt Williams.
Oxspring has been a staple of the Australian side for the past decade, most notably pitching Australia past in the semi-finals of the 2004 Olympics.
"I'm excited, I've been anticipating this since the last WBC, so it's been about four years coming," Oxspring said.
"(Being able to represent my country) is fantastic, and getting the chance to put on my nation's colours is what every player strives for, so I'm fortunate I get to do it again."
Before the finals, Williams had been the most dominant relief pitcher in the league, registering a record 15 saves in as many chances.
In addition, former Sox head coach and now hitting coach and Baseball NSW high-performance manager Glenn Williams will serve as the Australian hitting coach.