Baseball: Canberra Cavalry charge at Fort Narrabundah

Joe O'Sullivan Roar Rookie

By Joe O'Sullivan, Joe O'Sullivan is a Roar Rookie

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    All roads led to picturesque Narrabundah Ball Park last Saturday as the Canberra Cavalry hosted the Melbourne Aces in a double header to close out their opening ABL four game series home stand.

    Warm spring weather greeted fans and players as Canberra’s Korean import Myung-Ho Jin threw the first pitch at 4.00PM and promptly gave up two runs in his first inning of work courtesy of a towering Andrew Russell homer.

    Jin however quickly settled and was soon engaged in a tight pitching duel with Melbourne’s Greg Wiltshire.

    The offense from both teams struggled to get going with the Cavalry having to wait until the bottom of the fifth before getting their first runner aboard through a Michael Collins single.

    Despite issuing a walk to Kyu-Hyun Moon, Wiltshire ended the threat and confirmed his dominance over Canberra by striking out Andrew Schmidt.

    Under ABL rules the first game of a double header is played over seven innings and it was in the bottom of the sixth, with the Aces grimly hanging onto their two run lead, that Canberra had their best opportunity.

    After Ian Choy had driven in Seung-Hwa Lee for the Cavalry’s first run, crowd favourite Didi Gregorius looked certain to score on Nick Kimpton’s double but slipped rounding third base.

    In the ensuing pandemonium the popular shortstop was tagged out after team mate Choy had continued onto third base thus depriving Gregorius the safety of returning to the bag. Reliever Masumi Hoshino came on for Wiltshire and ended Canberra’s rally.

    Melbourne tacked on an insurance run in the top of the seventh after Rinku Singh who had replaced Jin walked Itaru Hashimoto with the bases loaded.

    After just on two hours of play Hoshino secured the save in the bottom of the seventh and with it Melbourne’s second victory of the season (notwithstanding that fielding error) had allowed two base runners. Wiltshire picked up the win and Jin took the loss.

    The hour between games was filled with a softball match between local Canberra teams and a variety of fan-fest activities. What was intriguing was the opportunity to rub shoulders in the intimate and friendly environs of the ball park with the ABL players from both teams as they queued for food and refreshments along with the rest of us.

    At 7.10PM and with the temperature falling, the second game was underway and what an exhibition it would be. Where pitchers had dominated the first, hitters teed off in the second.

    A two out three run homer from Josh Davies saw the Aces on the board in the top of the first.

    The Cavalry responded with one run in their half but it probably should have been more after they had loaded the bases with no outs. But in the second Canberra tied the scores after a single to Tom Vincent, a walk to Andrew Schmidt and a triple to Gregorius.

    That was enough for Melbourne manager Phil Dale who pulled his starter Donavon Hendricks for reliever Brendan McDonald. Melbourne responded to the challenge with another three run inning in the third.

    A walk, a single, a wild pitch and another single saw Canberra manager Steve Schrenk follow his opposite number’s lead and yank starter Michael Lennox for Mathew Fawcett.

    Fawcett however was unable to completely prevent further damage as a Takahiro Ijuin double drove in two runs. Canberra came roaring back in the bottom with three runs of their own and after three completed innings scores were tied 6 apiece.

    The Cavalry took their first lead in the series since Thursday night’s game one thanks to a two out two RBI single by Vincent in the fourth that had, in no small way, been assisted by two Melbourne errors.

    Trailing by two going into the eighth Melbourne narrowed the gap to one after a Nathan Aron ground out scored Josh Davies from third.

    Going into the last needing a run to stay alive, Justin Huber delivered for the Aces with a sac fly after Scott Wearne and Russell had singled.

    Despite a Sung-Woo Jang single, Canberra was unable to score in the bottom and the game went into an extra innings.

    After a scoreless tenth veteran pitcher Phil Brassington kept the Aces quiet in the eleventh. Errors had already been costly to Melbourne but now another one would lose them the game.

    A two out walk to Donald Lutz followed by a Choy double gave Jang the opportunity to be a hero. His grounder to shortstop Matthew Lawman should have resulted in the third out, but Lawman mishandled and Jang beat out the throw allowing Lutz to score.

    The Canberra players rushed to mob Jang relieved to get the win. After 3 hours and 41 minutes the home crowd relished in the heart stopping victory. In total ten hurlers came to the mound giving up a combined 17 runs on 23 hits.

    We’d certainly got value for our $10 entry fee, over 5.5 hours of quality baseball and a grandstand finish entertaining the crowd of 1,215. A great family afternoon and evening of fun with plenty to keep us occupied.

    Canberra’s next home series is against Adelaide with another double header on Saturday 4th December. I’m looking forward to another Cavalry charge.

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    The Crowd Says (21)

    • November 22nd 2010 @ 7:19am
      Brett McKay said | November 22nd 2010 @ 7:19am | ! Report

      Nice one Joe, your words only increase the curiosity in checking out the baseball at some point this year…

      • November 22nd 2010 @ 9:01am
        Joe O'Sullivan said | November 22nd 2010 @ 9:01am | ! Report

        Cheers Brett.

    • November 22nd 2010 @ 5:50pm
      Nicholas R.W. Henning said | November 22nd 2010 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

      Nice work Joe. Thanks for taking us all out to the new ballpark in Canberra!
      I really like what they’ve done down in Canberra with a purpose built venue. Melbourne and Brisbane have to make do with old Showgrounds – but on the plus side the location of these grounds are good. Perth, Sydney and Canberra all have fields made for baseball, and Adelaide get by quite well at Norwood Oval.
      Even though the Cavalry are only sitting on two wins they are the team I feel a stronger interest for. Their team has some super players to watch, and just to mention a few: Steve Kent, Michael Collins, and Kyle Perkins are local players who have big futures ahead of them.
      The Cavalry had a chance to add Brendan Kingman to their line-up, and it is my understanding that the team manager was keen to recruit him – but another member of the coaching staff let the opportunity slip. Kingman still has plenty to offer, and I wish the Cavalry had taken him when they had the chance. He is a clutch hitter and his experience would have added value to the team. My only concern with the Cavalry is their player depth, and snubbing Brendan Kingman does not help the situation.
      I’m going to make the trip down to Canberra and catch some games. I’ll also be attending every Sydney Blue Sox series.
      If the Cavalry have a good run with injuries they could be a bolter in the ABL. They lost two games to the Blue Sox by only one run.
      I feel that the Cavalry have a real chance to make some headlines in the ACT, as they have a partnership with the ACT Brumbies rugby team, and a university night linked with Canberra University, in addition to the fact that they don’t have to compete with many other summer professional team sports as there is no men’s NBL, ING / Shield cricket or A-League. Baseball has a great opportunity in Canberra!! Nicholas R.W. Henning – Australian Baseball Author

      • November 22nd 2010 @ 7:45pm
        Joe O'Sullivan said | November 22nd 2010 @ 7:45pm | ! Report

        Thanks Nick. Is Kingman currently active?

        • November 22nd 2010 @ 10:52pm
          Nicholas R.W. Henning said | November 22nd 2010 @ 10:52pm | ! Report

          Kingman has recently had knee surgery, which is why his name has not appeared as active. I spoke to him at Bluetown during the Cavalry series and he is keen to play. Due to the demeanour of only one person at the Cavalry it looks like Kingman will be instead offering his skills to the Blue Sox who already have a wealth of players – but Kingman will improve any batting line-up that he’s on!
          If Brad Thomas and Ryan Rowland-Smith play for the Blue Sox they will be completely stacked in the pitching department, which means two pitchers currently playing with the Blue Sox will lose their spot on the roster. Not that Craig Anderson will lose his spot – but I wish he was with the Cavalry as he’d make a solid difference to their pitching stocks. There are other players at the Blue Sox who could make a bigger contribution to the Cavalry but many of these guys want to be as close to home as possible, and that’s easy to understand.
          I respect Nick Kimpton a lot for choosing to play with the Cavalry, as the Perth Heat would have liked to have kept him on their team, but he wanted to help his local team.

    • November 22nd 2010 @ 9:41pm
      Danny_Mac said | November 22nd 2010 @ 9:41pm | ! Report

      I went along to the game on Thursday night, and I must say, was wildly impressed… The ballpark is spectacular, and there was a real community feel, the there was a real sense of closeness that is rare in modern sport, particularly at the highest levels. Add to that good food and real beer (all at reasonable prices!) and a seed has been planted…

      Oh and as somebody who isn’t a part of the – very tight knit – Canberra baseball community, I felt very welcome…

      Just a word of advice though, take a cushion, the bleachers can get a bit uncomfortable!

      • November 22nd 2010 @ 11:08pm
        Nicholas R.W. Henning said | November 22nd 2010 @ 11:08pm | ! Report

        Danny Mac, I’m pleased you enjoyed yourself. There are many players on that Cavalry team who will do some great things in baseball! I really like the Cavalry mascot; it’s probably the best in the ABL!

    • November 28th 2010 @ 10:19pm
      Bring back BK said | November 28th 2010 @ 10:19pm | ! Report

      Word has it that Kingman would be in the Sydney lineup but they’re concerned about his fitness. We know the guy can play and is a must have hitter in any lineup. He’s getting on a bit now, not quite sure his age but the guy has been playing for years I think he wakes up with a glove on one hand and a ball in the other. The Calvary need him without a doubt but Sydney maybe baulking because of Kingmans fitness levels. Needs to lose the big meals I guess. His experience is an asset to any Dugout. The guy would probably add another 200 bum’s in seats to any game maybe more in his comeback. I can guarantee you one thing, my bum will be in a seat watching. But have to say Canberras pitching depth is a bit of a worry not to mention the lack of power at the plate. Looks like Brisbane and Perth have got up and running well probably the two teams to watch I think.

      • November 29th 2010 @ 9:54am
        Nicholas R.W. Henning said | November 29th 2010 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        Hear hear! Kingman is 35 or 36 years old. He may not look in perfect shape but he can still offer a lot. Baseball is famous for athletes of a “baseball” genre, as opposed to track and field stars. Kingman is one of my all-time favourite players. There are many good signs with this version of the ABL.

        • November 30th 2010 @ 9:59am
          Bring BK said | November 30th 2010 @ 9:59am | ! Report

          Well, what are Canberra waiting for? They need some power in the lineup. Kingman has always been a cleanup hitter so If they don’t want him there they could easily put him somewhere else. They could do with his experience behind the plate to.o

          • November 30th 2010 @ 12:30pm
            Nicholas R.W. Henning said | November 30th 2010 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

            To begin with Kingman has recently had knee surgery, and has only resumed playing in the last few weeks. Secondly, one of the coaching staff at the Cavalry was not in favour of having Kingman on the team. The problem is now that the opportunity may actually be lost with Canberra, and they could sure do with Kingman on their team. Kingman may try his hand with the Blue Sox and to be frank they could probably get value from him, as he would be the player with the highest level of U.S. professional experience behind him; that is for batters on the team. The next nearest hitter on the current roster has played high-A ball, and Kingman was once on Seattle’s 40-man Major League roster! There are people who doubt his ability to hit in the ABL – but I say to them what have they got to lose by trying him?

    • December 2nd 2010 @ 8:33am
      Bring BK said | December 2nd 2010 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      Im thinking that their may be another reason. I think since the league is funded mainly by MLB I believe MLB are encouraging the teams to hire players who are current professionals, if they arn’t current professionals they want to develop the younger players. But I have watched a few games and gotta say on the record, even though Kingman is a Veteran he still runs rings around some of those younger players. So if I were on the coaching staff, i’d be more interested in winning games then worrying about political BS. I just took a peek at the stats in the Blue Sox stats and must say Patrick Maat, Mark Holland, Josh Dean, Michael Lysaught have got something to answer for at the plate well not so much Dean since he’s only had a few AB’s…… Maat, Holland and Lysaught arn’t even getting bat to ball.

      • December 3rd 2010 @ 1:19pm
        Nicholas R.W. Henning said | December 3rd 2010 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

        You’re spot on; the ABL does have a focus towards the next generation of players. However, Kingman could certainly add value nonetheless. With the benefit of hindsight I think the Blue Sox may regret not having taken on more imports. The Blue Sox batting statistics do seem a bit light – but as they say good pitching wins games and the Blue Sox have more great pitchers to come later in the season.
        I really want the Cavalry to chalk up more wins. Their potential market in Canberra is impressive as they are not competing with many professional sports over the summer. I’m planning to get down to Canberra for some of their games.

    • December 11th 2010 @ 3:32pm
      Bring Back BK said | December 11th 2010 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

      By the way does anyone know who was the uneducated member of the canberra baseball fraternity that didn’t want Kingman? Where’s he been hiding for the past 20 years?

      • December 11th 2010 @ 4:26pm
        Joe O'Sullivan said | December 11th 2010 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

        I suspect Nick does. They could sure use some offense. Lost for the second time under the mercy rule last night.

        • December 11th 2010 @ 6:35pm
          Nicholas R.W. Henning said | December 11th 2010 @ 6:35pm | ! Report

          I know who the person in question is. However, it is important to appreciate that this person did put some thought into their original decision to pass on Kingman, but from our point of view it appears that the decision was the wrong one. This is further proven by the fact that the team activated coach Michael Wells – who can still hit pretty well, and is one year older than Kingman – yet I feel that Kingman is a better hitter than Wells, and I say this with no disrespect to Wells who is doing a good enough job with the bat. If you want to know the name of the person who passed on Kingman feel free to email me directly, as it might be inappropriate to name him on here, plus I only found out through having a personal conversation with Brendan Kingman, and it could be disrespectful to B.K. to share his private business on here. I’m easy to find on the Internet, my blog usually comes up first and my email address is on there in the profile section. The Cavalry had a tough game last night but they are much improved tonight.

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