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Three-run third enough for Grening, Cavs in win
Canberra back starter to begin Round Three victorious
11/17/2012 1:29 AM ET
Kody Hightower's heads-up play in the 9th kept things tied
Kody Hightower's heads-up play in the 9th kept things tied (Ben Southall / SMP Images)
BRISBANE, 16 November - It took three great appearances on the mound for Brian Grening, but he finally earned his first win of the third Australian Baseball League season on Friday night against the Brisbane Bandits.

Following a strong appearance in the home opener for the Cavalry yielding a no-decision, the 27-year-old California native started against Team New Zealand in an exhibition game at the Fort, before heading to Brisbane.

Grening (1-0) finally got some credit against the Bandits with his team taking the game 3-2 in Round Three of the ABL, brought to you by, 'Be the Influence: Tackling Binge Drinking.' The right-hander threw six and one third strong innings allowing just two earned runs on eight hits, striking out six and walking just one batter.

"Grening was outstanding again," Cavalry manager Michael Collins said. "And you know what? [Sean] Toler and [Dustin] Loggins at the back end right there, they were outstanding the first week, great in exhibition games last week against New Zealand and then we saw them again today. That was outstanding."

The Cavalry's second win of the season came behind great pitching and defence. Loggins logged two and one third innings, allowing just one hit and striking out three. Toler earned his second save of the season with one inning pitched, giving up two hits and fanning one.

Brisbane starter Justin Staatz ran into trouble for the second week in a row. The California native battled command problems and left the game after just three innings pitched. Staatz allowed three earned runs on five hits, walking four and striking out three on the day.

Canberra scored all three of its runs in the third inning. Staatz (0-2) walked back-to-back batters to open the frame before allowing a one-out single to load the bases. Michael Wells brought in a run with the third walk of the inning before Jack Murphy knocked in another. A wild pitch scored the third run, which proved to be the difference in the game.

"He didn't pitch a lot during the year," Brisbane manager Kevin Jordan said of his starter. "I think like any pitcher you have to be able to attack the zone. The last couple of times he probably hadn't been doing that as much as we know he can. So a lot of it is not mechanical as much as it is how you're approaching the hitters."

The Bandits came back and put two runs on the board in the fifth, the second coming courtesy of a surprise two-out bunt from slugger and Bandits two-time team MVP Josh Roberts.

"You know what?" Collins said. "That might not be the typical play but you've got to tip your hat. He took a chance and it paid off. We played back; he takes the hit and gets the RBI so you've got to tip your hat a little bit there."

The home team threated in the bottom of the ninth with runners on the corners and none out. Canberra fought back and a great play from Kody Hightower stopped them short. On a routine ground ball to shortstop, Hightower made the throw to home and stopped the tying run at the plate before Toler shut the Bandits down for good.

"That was a great play," Collins said. "That's one of those ones where you can't really teach it and you can't write it that way but that's why he's back here again. "He's a pretty heads-up player and that was a good play."

Canberra will face the Bandits in a doubleheader on Saturday to conclude the three-game set. The Cavalry will be looking for their first series win as Brisbane continues its community series at Redlands Baseball Club.

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