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Johnson's jack sends Sox to sweep
Koo picks up third save in 7-5 win
11/14/2010 5:15 PM ET
Sydney swatted another ten hits on Sunday afternoon at BOP.
Sydney swatted another ten hits on Sunday afternoon at BOP. (Nathan Atkins/ABL)
SYDNEY - With a roster already full of major New South Wales baseball names, the Sydney Blue Sox are making new monikers for themselves. Welcome to the Australian Baseball League's version of the Comeback Kids.

Alex Johnson cranked his first home run of the season, a three-run shot in the bottom of the seventh inning, to turn the tide of the Sunday afternoon affair and send the Blue Sox to a sweep of their first four games of the year over the Cavalry with a 7-5 victory at Blacktown Olympic Park.

"I've just had a couple of good seasons," Johnson said on a day in which his offense cranked out ten hits a night after raking eleven. "I've been taking some good BP and watching the ball hit the bat, and I've been coming away with success."

For the third time in as many days, the Blue Sox had to come from behind for a victory. Again Sunday, it was the Cavalry getting the upper hand early as Canberra got after Blue Sox starter David Welch in a three-run top of the first inning. Nick Kimpton's double down the right field line scored two before the Sox recorded an out, and the Cavalry tacked on another on a Michael Collins sacrifice fly to make it a 3-0 lead before Sydney went to the bat rack.

The Cavs added another run in the fourth on a Donald Lutz RBI single before the Blue Sox went to work in the following inning after the departure of Canberra starter Myung-Ho Jin. Reliever Chris Morgan entered with a 4-0 cushion, but Sydney quickly chipped away with RBI base hits from Mark Holland and David Kandilas. Defensive struggles that doomed the Cavalry in an eight-run Sydney sixth one night prior reared their heads again Sunday when second baseman Andrew Schmidt's miscue on a possible double-play ball allowed Holland to score to cut the lead to 4-3.

In the seventh, it was Johnson's turn to shine. With one out following back-to-back leadoff walks by Trent D'Antonio and Tim Auty, Johnson turned on a 1-1 pitch from Jung-Min Lee (0-1) and deposited it over the left field wall to swing the pendulum back in the Sydney's favor and make it a 6-4 Blue Sox lead.

The Sox kept their distance from there with Aaron Sookee (1-0), and Matt Williams holding down the Canberra offense into the ninth. With two outs in the top half of the final inning, a run home for the visitors making it a 7-5 Sydney advantage, and the tying run at second base, Blue Sox manager Glenn Williams went to his bullpen for veteran Dae-Sung Koo, and the Korean legend obliged by closing out the win. Koo (S, 3) struck out Canberra's Nick Kimpton swinging for the game's final out just as he did in the ABL opener eight days ago. The 41-year-old lefty now has three saves in his team's 4-0 start.

Sydney's comeback credentials are gaining attention according to skipper Williams. "It's a credit to the guys and the attitude they have," the former Minnesota Twin said. "'Welchy' came out and had some command problems early and gave up some hits, but he kept us in the game. We know that if we do that, and we trust ourselves, over time, we're going to get a big hit."

On Sunday, that hit came from Johnson who gave his team the win but gave credit to the opposing side in a tightly contested season-opening series. "It's great for us, but for Canberra, they're a great team. They deserve a round of applause as well from all the people around the league because they're not to be taken lightly. For us, it starts our season out on a real high. Hopefully we can keep it up."

The Blue Sox exit the season's first weekend as one of two unbeaten teams in the ABL along with the Adelaide Bite. Sydney visit the Brisbane Bandits, who dropped three of four this weekend to the Perth Heat, for four games starting Thursday in Brisbane. "I guess we evaluate how it all went," Williams said of his team's opening set. "We played very well in the first three, didn't play as well today, but we're lucky to come out with another win. I'm really happy with the way the guys played. We'll regroup Tuesday and get out there and train and be ready to go for Brisbane."

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.