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Sox into driver's seat with opener win at Canberra
First place is Sydney's alone for first time this season
01/18/2013 12:28 AM ET
Sydney have ridden five straight wins into first place.
Sydney have ridden five straight wins into first place. (Ben Southall / SMP Images)
CANBERRA, 17 January - Behind a season-high 17 hits, the Sydney Blue Sox (23-16) took a 12-8 win over the Canberra Cavalry driven by Rolfe Renault (22-17) to gain sole possession of first place for the first time this season Thursday night at Narrabundah Ballpark.

The Blue Sox, who extended their winning streak to five games, got a five-hit performance from Trent D'Antonio, four-hit night from Mitch Dening and a three-hit night from James Robbins. Behind his team's offensive onslaught, Sox pitcher Craig Anderson (7-2) earned the win, setting the league record for wins in a season in the process. The lefty surrendered seven runs (five earned) through six innings of work.

"I was really pleased with how we swung the bats tonight," Blue Sox manager Jason Pospishil said. "Not only were we getting hits, but we were getting extra-base hits which was nice to see. Ando didn't have his best stuff but pitched well and our bullpen got some big outs for us at the end."

After falling behind 1-0 after one inning of play, Sydney came right back with six runs in the second inning. In the frame, Boss Moanaroa, D'Antonio and Dening all drove in runs, while the Sox took advantage of three Canberra errors for a 6-1 lead.

In the third inning, Sydney tacked on another trio of runs when D'Antonio ripped a line drive three-run home run, his fifth of the season, over the right field fence for a commanding 9-1 lead to the visitors.

The home side took two runs back in the fourth behind homers from Jeremy Barnes and Marcus Knecht, but again Sydney was quick to answer, scoring one in the fifth on a Robbins single, before scoring two more in the top of the seventh on a double from Robbins for a 12-3 lead.

That's when the Cavalry began their comeback, plating four runs in the bottom of the seventh, closing the gap to 12-7. After a scoreless eighth, Kody Hightower launched a dinger over the wall in left field, but Canberra could muster no more as the scoring closed at 12-8.

With his four hits, Dening extended his league-lead in that category, closing the night with 52. He became just the second player in Sydney history with 50 hits in a season, after U.S. import Tyler Collins finished with exactly 50 hits last year.

Brian Grening (4-2) suffered his second loss in as many weeks, allowing nine runs (one earned) on nine hits in just three innings of work. In total, the teams combined for 20 runs, 28 hits, seven errors and 10 unearned runs.

Sydney and Canberra battle in game two of their four-game series tomorrow when three-time league Pitcher of the Week Chris Oxspring (4-1, 2.30 ERA) takes the mound for the Sox against Rob Dickmann (3-4, 4.70 ERA) for the Cavalry. First pitch is set for 7:00 p.m. at Narrabundah Ballpark.

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