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Cavalry Rallies To Split With Aces
12/20/2010 5:32 PM ET
 
Canberra Cavalry showed plenty of heart to recover from a demoralising first-game loss and split its 'make-up' doubleheader with Melbourne Aces at the Showgrounds today......

While the Melbourne Aces were in imperious hitting form against Sydney Blue Sox last week, it would have taken a brave person to seriously suggest that they could ramp it up even further for their make-up games against Canberra Cavalry, who were coming off a strong series win over Perth Heat.

Yet ramp it up they did, for a remarkable first game of the doubleheader that could well have flattened a Cavalry squad that was without superstars in Michael Collins and Nick Kimpton and that copped a fearful 20-3 beating at the hands of a rampant Aces offence.

But in a reminder to us all of the vagaries of baseball - the great leveller - the depleted Cavalry rallied for the afternoon game (their sixth in five days) to remain in a pitcher-dominated contest and head their opponent in the top of the last.

GAME ONE: MELBOURNE ACES 20 defeated CANBERRA CAVALRY 3

It was a tough ask for the Cavalry boys - who wrapped up their home series against Perth Heat on Saturday night - to jump on a plane and head south to front the Melbourne Aces for two games rescheduled from earlier rainouts.

The situation was compounded by their flight being delayed and the first game being put back before ugly weather caused it to be re-drawn as the first of a double header starting at 11.00 AM on Monday.

There should have been no lack of confidence in the Cavalry camp, with the club coming off a stunning three-one series win over the league-leading Heat - a result that demonstrated the capacity of any of the ABL clubs to beat any other in this topsy-turvy first season of the new league.

Aces starter Norito Kaneto was off to a rocky start, tattooing two hitters and walking another couple as the Cavalry found themselves fortuitously on the board with one in the top of the first. The Aces hit back as Scott Wearne singled off Canberra starter Luke Wilkins, advanced on a wild pitch, headed to third on a single to Yoshiyuki Kamei and scored on a Justin Huber grounder - tying the score in the calm before a figurative cyclone that was poised to hit in the bottom of the second.

Not a Cavalry front-line pitcher, Wilkins was steamrolled as the Aces wrecking ball went to work. Andrew Russell and Takahiro Ijyuin singled, Grant Karlsen hit safely to plate the Aces' second, Itaru Hashimoto singled for a third and Scott Wearne's double drove in another - to make it 4-1 in a trice.

Left-handed powerhouse Kamei homered over centrefield for a three-run shot, Josh Davies hit safely and Russell drove in another two with a moonshot over centre - sending Wilkins to the showers and the Cavalry calling for gas with the game already gone.

Replacing Wilkins, Matthew Fawcett finished out the innings - an extraordinary eight-run blast that gave Melbourne a 9-1 lead after two.

With Kaneto having momentary control issues, the Cavalry pegged it back somewhat in the third, as walks to Ian Choy, Michael Wells and Sung-Woo Jang, an infield error and a Donald Lutz single forced two across the plate.

But the Aces were at it again in the bottom of four. Huber singled, Davies reached base on an error, Russell's single scored Huber and Ijyuin picked up Davies on a hit to leftfield. When Russell cruised home on Hashimoto's sacrifice, it was 12-3 and the Cavalry was desperately in need of reinforcements.

With Dan Bradley replacing Fawcett in the bottom of five, the Aces were on the march again. Kamei doubled and Huber blasted a shot over the left-centre wall - the Aces' sixteenth hit of the game. Not to be outdone, Russell launched his second homer over centrefield, Paul Rutgers singled and pinch-hitter Tristen McDonald scored him from first on a long double to centrefield.

Called up for Aces duties late last week, sixteen year-old Doncaster southpaw Daniel McGrath was called on to close out the game - and that he did, sitting down six of the seven hitters that he faced in an impressive outing.

Losing his radar in the sixth, Bradley issued a string of passes - bringing infielder Tylor Prudhomme to the hill. Faring no better than his predecessors, the Canadian conceded another three runs to make it an even twenty for the Aces. A score of a score is a rare feat in baseball - one that will not go unnoticed by teams around the league.

While winning pitcher Kaneto issued six walks, he gave up a solitary hit and whiffed seven over five innings of work. Meritorious as his effort was, the Aces offence was simply unstoppable, with nineteen hits - and four home runs - telling the tale against a hapless Cavalry pitching staff.

In a massacre figuratively akin to Custer's Last Stand, Russell collected four hits (and a pair of homers) for his five RBIs, Kamei (three hits) was a star with three of the Aces' RBIs, while Wearne, Ijyuin, Huber and Karlsen all delivered big-time in a staggering display of clean hitting for the home side.

GAME TWO: CANBERRA CAVALRY 3 defeated MELBOURNE ACES 2

After the fearsome Aces hitting and frenzied scoring of the morning game, it was back to something like baseball sanity for the second of the double-header as two quality pitchers traded zeroes through the early innings.

With an ERA of 2.57 over seven innings of work, right-armed Jung-Min Lee took the win against Perth Heat on Friday night and has been sparingly used by the Cavalry, while Aces fireballer Jumpei Ono (pictured) had a very good outing over seven for a win against Blue Sox.

Both pitchers were quickly into their work and breezed through the early innings with a minimum of fuss. Neither side was able to mount much in offence, with each starter giving up a hit and a walk over the first four complete innings.

Having a remarkable day, Aces rightfielder Andrew Russell cleared centrefield - in the bottom of five - for a solo home run that threatened to spark his side's offence after it had been well held by Jung-Min Lee.

Momentarily getting the staggers in defence, the Cavalry allowed Ijyuin and McDonald on base. Grant Karlsen drove a single into leftfield - to score Ijyuin - and left-armed Rinku Singh was called from the pen to replace the Canberra starter after a terrific first four innings.

Attached to the Detroit Tigers organisation, Indian-born Singh did his job against the left-handers at the top of the Aces lineup, getting a pop-fly, fanning Scott Wearne and drawing a ground ball from the dangerous Yoshiyuki Kamei. With a runner still on base - and none out - the Aces should arguably have fared better than just the two runs, invaluable as they were.

Tylor Prudhomme doubled in the top of the sixth, bringing left-armed Adam Bright from the pen. Pinch-hitting for his side, evergreen Michael Wells doubled to leftfield to score Canberra's first run before Bright settled into his work to retire Gregorius, Vincent and Lutz in order.

With the Aces holding a 2-1 lead, rangy right-hander Nathan Crawford replaced Singh and cruised through the bottom of six.

Rightfielder Byron Aird beat out an infield hit in the bottom of the seventh - and last - innings of the truncated game. Seung-Hwa Lee drew a walk and Sung-Woo Jang laid down the mandatory sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third with one out and Andrew Schmidt to the plate.

Eight-hitter Schmidt doubled to centre, scoring both and placing himself in scoring position as the Cavalry snatched the lead 3-2 and Masumi Hoshino was handed the pill for the Aces, striking out Prudhomme and Wells after the damage had been done.

With the Aces facing a 2-3 deficit in the equaliser, Tim Atherton replaced Crawford and struck out Ijyuin. Rutgers doubled and pinch-hitter Brett Tamburrino walked before Hashimoto went down swinging. Wearne walked - to load the bases with two out - but Atherton induced a pop-up from Kamei and the Cavalry had pinched a memorable win in a thriller after being humbled just hours earlier.

The split result takes Melbourne Aces to nine and ten - still adrift of third-placed Adelaide - while the Cavalry showed great character to recover from a drubbing and take their record to nine and fourteen.

UPCOMING GAMES (all at Melbourne Showgrounds): Melbourne Aces vs Brisbane Bandits, Tuesday 21December, 7.00 PM
Melbourne Aces vs Brisbane Bandits, Wednesday 22 December, 4.30 PM
Melbourne Aces vs Brisbane Bandits, Wednesday 22 December, 7.00 PM
Melbourne Aces vs Brisbane Bandits, Thursday 23 December, 7.00 PM

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