PERTH - For the second straight night, the Canberra Cavalry were able to deal the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat a heartbreaking loss, coming from behind to take a 2.5 game lead on top of the standings with an 8-6 victory.
Anthony Claggett put in an outstanding effort striking out eight, and allowing only one unearned run through 6.2 innings. With Claggett handing over a four run buffer, the Heat bullpen caved and gave up seven runs in the final two innings with Cameron Lamb taking the loss.
Three home runs highlighted the Heat's offense. Solo shots from Ryan Khoury, Allan de San Miguel and Brenden Webb helped the Heat to their early lead. While not at its best, the Cavalry pitching was able to do enough behind some amazing offensive support. Ryan Dickmann lasted six innings giving up five runs and Toler picked up his second save for the series, his ninth for the season and Dustin Loggins moved to 3-1 for the season with his win in relief.
Looking down and out in the eighth, the Cavalry started a relentless rally with three straight hits from Stovall, Bushchini and Barnes. Jack Murphy continued with a walk and Michael Wells made it five straight Cavalry hitters to reach safely with a single. Miarus Knecht laid down a successful sacrifice bunt and Adam Jacobs tied the game by scoring Callaway. With five hits and a walk in the inning, the Heat crumbled under the pressure as Carter Bell committed an error to allow Michael Wells to score giving the Calvary a 6-5 lead.
Despite the deflating half inning the Heat bounced back with Allan de San Miguel leading off with a double. A bases loaded walk would tie the game but the Heat failed to capitalize on their opportunity to regain the lead with only one out. With the Cavalry at bat in the top of the ninth, a controversial call at third deprived the Heat of a third out. After arguments with the umpires, Marcus Knecht scored two runners with a single to put the game beyond doubt.
Cavalry manager Michael Collins spoke from a delighted Cavalry clubhouse, looking towards taking the good feeling into the remaining six clashes between the two sides.
"That's a huge win. It's a big momentum swing for us. We've said it all along with our offense and pitching, we always give ourselves a chance. Claggett had a great game but luckily we were able to stick with it and come out on top in the end."
The heart of the Cavalry shone through in the final two innings, never allowing the Heat to cruise to what seemed like an easy victory.
"I've got to tip my hats to the guys with the way they go up there and take their at bats. There's not a lot said by the coaching staff to the players about how they go about these things, but they keep coming, even if we get to the bottom someone figures out a way to turn it around to keep us moving."
In the opposite change room, Steve Fish remained philosophical about the loss, not bothering to get down about a game that could have gone either way.
"It's a game of inches. A couple bleeders and a clutch hit and they end up taking the lead there. It's the name of the game. It's all about inches."
The Heat is far from panicking despite facing a significant gap to first and having to worry about the Blue Sox only half a game behind in third.
"It's probably going to take a week or two to get back to full strength, but we have some young guys playing well right now and doing good things. That's really important to us in case something happens further down the line."