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SEASON IN REVIEW: Canberra Cavalry
Cavs run into red-hot Brisbane in playoffs again
02/11/2019 8:46 PM ET
 

With the 2018/2019 Brut Australian Baseball League season done and dusted, now it's time to look back at how each team fared in reverse finishing order. Today we look at the Canberra Cavalry. 

Canberra's run at a second Claxton Shield came to an end at the hands of Brisbane yet again in the 2019 ABL Playoffs presented by Boral.

For a second-straight year, this time around a week earlier in an ABLSF, the Cavalry went down to the Bandits in three games.

Canberra booked its clash with Brisbane the hard way, coming through the first-ever ABL Wildcard Game, albeit in impressive fashion, after starting the season sluggishly.

The Cavs lost their opening four games of the season to Melbourne as they embarked on a testing three-week road trip to allow for the completion of redevelopment work at their Narrabundah home.

Canberra quickly made ground before settling for third spot in the tightly-fought North-East Division.

After 40 games they were two wins shy of Brisbane and Sydney, sending them on the road throughout the playoffs.

They passed their first test in the Wildcard Game before falling at the second step against the Bandits.

Steve Kent, Shota Imanaga and Frank Gailey helped lead one of the better rotations in the ABL.

Michael Fransoso (.430 batting average) and Zach Wilson (12 homers, 30 RBI) played key roles in an offence that fired as the season moved along.

 

What went right

The Cavs' partnership with Yokohama DeNA Baystars was a success on and off the field.

Shota Imanaga was the pick of the crop with the lefty compiling a 4-0 record with 0.51 ERA in six starts.

Imanaga struck out 57 hitters in 35 innings and allowed just two earned runs.

His WHIP finished at 0.43.

Tomoya Mikama led Canberra with six saves, putting together an ERA of 1.23 in 15 appearances, and Yuki Kuniyoshi 4.39 in 15 games.

Kouki Aoyagi hit a modest .155 but provided solid defence.

 

What went wrong

Canberra's offence took a while to warm up.

The Cavs hit .228 with one homer in their opening nine games before averaging .258 in 19 December games.

In January they hit .290 with 18 homers in 12 games, lifting their season tally to 38.

Canberra's season-long .261 average ranked fourth in the league but their stagnant early offence cost them a couple of wins and possibly a home ABLSF.

 

Most impressive win

Defeated Sydney 10-9 at The Fort at MIT Ballpark on January 4.

Canberra trailed 6-2 entering the bottom of the third and 8-3 heading to the last of the fifth against red-hot Sydney.

The Cavs scored in the bottom of the fifth and added two in the eighth.

They pulled level in the ninth to force extras.

David Kandilas registered a two-out single ahead of Michael Crouse going deep for his first homer of the season.

Canberra then scored two runs to one in the 10th, walking off on Michael Fransoso's two-run double.

 

theABL.com.au Player of the Season

Steve Kent

Kent recorded a franchise single-season record seven wins for Canberra.

His 11 regular-season appearances yielded a 7-1 record and 2.90 ERA.

The left-hander struck out 76, finishing second in the ABL behind Sydney's Alex Maestri.

Opposition hitters averaged just .211 against the 29-year-old.

 

Highlight of the season

At the track, at the wall ….

Kyle Perkins helped turn one of the best defensive plays in the league's history to help the Cavalry overcome Brisbane in game two of their ABLSF series.

 

The Cavs ultimately went backwards on a year earlier, missing out on the ABL Championship Series.

A slow start and early offensive struggles proved costly.

They again had one of the better rotations in the league, led by Kent and Frank Gailey, but encountered a few bullpen hiccups at times.

 

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