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Heartbreak as remarkable comeback denied
Canberra holds on for 15-14 win at home
01/13/2018 2:15 AM ET
Angus Roeger was a key part of a spirited Bite comeback with two home runs.
Angus Roeger was a key part of a spirited Bite comeback with two home runs. (Ben Southall/SMP Images/ABL Media)

Usually we would have three takeaways, but this game was a journey for the Adelaide Bite, proudly presented by SA Power Networks, as Canberra held on for a 15-14 win at MIT Ballpark.

An early 3-1 lead turned into a 12-3 deficit as Canberra charged, but in the eighth inning it was 13-13.

How?

It's the small moment in baseball which can have the biggest impact. Rodrigo Ayarza hit a lead-off single for the second straight game before Stephen Lohr backed him up and Chang Tai-Shan drove both runners home. All three have been hitting around .300 all season and are the players you can depend on with the bat.

Lohr kept up the offensive leadership with a home run in the second inning and with a 3-1 lead the Bite looked to be in a good position.

On the mound, Steven Chambers was beating Cavalry hitters with breaking balls, but he was also getting smacked around the park. When the bullpen was called upon Wilson Lee also struggled and a 3-1 lead was a 12-3 deficit after only four innings.

However, there is a fighting spirit in this team. With young guns away at the Under 18 Youth Championship earning a place in the Gold Medal game, some unlikely players needed to stand up.

Tom McGarry was one, with the local call-up putting in his best game with the bat, notching three hits and two runs. Alongside Lohr, he was the only player to get three hits and with limited professional baseball experience, McGarry was a crucial part of the team tonight.

Another key player was Queensland native, Tyler Chappell. He pitched a scoreless fifth inning to stem the flow of runs from Canberra, setting up a big comeback. With more game time this season, Chappell has developed into a reliable reliever, and has been a bright spot in many games.

Taiwanese partners-in-crime, Chang and Kuan-Jen (Matty) Chen played a huge role in the sixth inning, bringing home three of Adelaide's four runs. As a mid-season arrival, Chen has seamlessly slotted into the top of the order, and entering the game gave the Bite a top four all hitting above .300.

Down 13-7 after six, there was definitely something brewing and local leader, Angus Roeger, was the man to bring it to life.

His fifth home run of the season was a deep solo shot, and it brought the Bite to life. Three hitters later, Karl Hoschke outshone him.

Like McGarry, Hoschke had to make the most of his opportunities and has done just that with five hits in his past five games. A three-run homer tonight was easily up there with one of his best plays and as a dependable outfielder he is showing us the same great form we saw last season. A slow start back in November has not taken away any of his determination to succeed.

With gritty determination, the Bite had all the momentum as the rain poured down and when Jordan McArdle singled in the eighth, every offensive Bite player had a hit for the night.

Then, not to be completely outdone by Hoschke, Roeger homered to tie up the game. In a season where he has struggled to consistently hit, the ability to stand tall in key moments has brought life back into Roeger's game, and as a result the Bite.

From 12-3 down, to 13-13, Adelaide had made a huge turnaround. In a season where missed opportunities and inexperience had hurt, this game had seen it all. Before it was over, though, Canberra put up another hurdle and a two-run deficit faced the Bite heading into the ninth.

Ayarza and Lohr did what they had to do and got on base, before Ayarza scored on a Chang RBI. Adelaide trailed by just one run with two out.

McArdle was the last man standing, facing closer Michael Click. At any age, let alone 19, those pressure moments are tough and McArdle fought hard but it was Click who won the battle, and the game for Canberra.

It was a heartbreaking finish but also a proud one. For a team in a position such as Adelaide, to fight back and nearly snatch the win is huge. This is a young side brimming with talent, just searching for consistency. Some games they are close, others they are not. But that's baseball.

Tomorrow's another day, and these players will only get better.

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