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Cavalry complete Asia Series charge with crown
ABL champs crush Taiwan's Lions to earn title
11/20/2013 12:14 PM ET
The Cavalry's Asia Series title is the first for a team from outside Korea and Japan.
The Cavalry's Asia Series title is the first for a team from outside Korea and Japan. (SMP Images)

TAICHUNG - In a story that Hollywood wouldn't tell, the Canberra Cavalry, driven by Rolfe Renault, came to Taiwan as a serious underdog. But with timely hitting, and the typical Cavalry "never say die" attitude, the Cavalry came from behind in the grand final to win the tournament 14-4, making Australian Baseball League history.

The Cavalry jumped on the board first, scoring two runs in the first inning. Jon Berti singled to lead off the game, and Mitch Dening followed with a bunt single. Casey Frawley moved the runners over with a fly out to left. Then with two outs, Jack Murphy singled home Berti and Dening to give Canberra a 2-0 lead.

But the Uni-President Lions (Taiwanese champions) would not sleep. In the top of the second, they plated two of their own and followed that up with an additional two in the top of the third, making the score 4-2 Lions through three innings.

But the Cavalry would not go down without a fight. In the bottom of the fourth, Michael Crouse led off with a single followed by a single by Michael Wells, pushing Crouse to third. Aaron Sloan grounded into a double play, pushing Crouse across the plate, and the Cavalry cut the lead to 4-3.

The Lions would come close to striking again in the top of the sixth. With one out, Chen hit a line drive right off pitcher Eric Massingham's back. He tried to pitch through, but the next batter doubled. Massingham's day was done, and Mike Ekstrom made his second appearance of the tournament. The runners didn't affect Ekstrom as he struck out Tang and got legendary national team member Chan Tai-Shan to ground out to second, ending the Lions threat.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Cavalry did what the Cavalry do: scored runs late to take the lead. Shane Opitz led off the inning with a single up the middle, then Berti brings him home with a triple to tie the game at 4-4. But that was just the beginning. Dening singled to score Berti, followed by a single for Frawley, a walk to Barnes to load the bases, and a Murphy sacrifice fly to make the score 6-4. With two outs, Wells came through again with a single to drive in Frawley and Barnes, and the inning ended with the Cavalry leading 8-4.

But the Cavalry weren't done. Opitz led off the bottom of the eighth with a short fly ball that the left fielder dropped, and Canberra's infielder his way to second. Berti came through again with a double of his own, bringing Opitz home. Dening then singled again, and Berti came across to make the lead 10-4.

Frawley then singled, and Barnes walked to load the bases bringing up Jack. Just like in the semi-finals, Murphy took a fastball and deposited it beyond the right field fence for a grand slam. The eighth inning ended with the Cavalry up 14-4.

Sean Toler came in in the top of the ninth, "Toler Time" closed out the game, and the Cavalry's celebration was on. The Canberra Cavalry, driven by Rolfe Renault, are champions of Asia.

"These are a special group of ballplayers," Cavalry manager Michael Collins said. "I knew that they could do this, and they knew that they could do this, and I couldn't be prouder."

When the celebration began, I Want To Be In The Cavalry came across the speakers. Murphy was named series MVP. It was a great night to be a fan of Cavalry baseball and the Australian Baseball League.

The Cavalry will hop a flight, arriving in Canberra on Friday morning just in time to face the Brisbane Bandits for a three day four game series. The Bandits were swept over the weekend by the Sydney Blue Sox, so they will be coming to town looking to rebound. Friday night is a special night sponsored by ServiceOne Members Banking. Saturday's doubleheader features Ladies Night. Sunday will have fun for the entire family. Tickets to see the history making Cavalry from the 22nd - 24th are available at canberracavalry.com.au/tickets or by calling (02) 6295 8379.

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