Sport

Adelaide Bite knock Canberra Cavalry out of Claxton Shield race in ABL prelim

Canberra Cavalry manager Michael Collins says it's "always disappointing when you come up short of your goal", but any other year their season might have been good enough to have earned hosting rights for the Australian Baseball League championship series.

After winning the rain-delayed game two 3-2, the Cavalry went down 9-2 to the Adelaide Bite in the third, and deciding, game of the preliminary final at Narrabundah Ballpark on Sunday.

Steven Kent won game two for Canberra before the Cavs were pummelled in the third and deciding ABL preliminary final ...
Steven Kent won game two for Canberra before the Cavs were pummelled in the third and deciding ABL preliminary final match against Adelaide. Photo: Graham Tidy

It means the Bite will now face the Brisbane Bandits in the decider in Brisbane next weekend.

Canberra had a brilliant first half of the season and sat four games clear on top of the ABL ladder at the half-way point, but they weren't able to keep their red-hot bats going and their bullpen began to struggle in the second half.

They also suffered injuries to key players Boss Moanaroa and Jeremy Barnes.

But Collins wasn't making any excuses and said the ABL's controversial mid-season rule changes didn't play any part in their demise.

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"It's always disappointing when you come up short of your goal, but all things considered a pretty successful season. I guess we just came up a little short here," he said.

"When you play a short three-game series, they swung the bats well and we just came up a little short.

"I don't think we scored as many runs in the second half of the season … we probably had more games where we scored a lot or a little versus early on we had a lot of games we were scoring six to eight runs that proved to be a comfortable lead we could hold onto most of the time.

"We came up short on the pitching at times and had too many big innings that proved costly for us, but all things considered you look back at the record … any other year that might've been enough to get the minor premiership.

"Brisbane goes out and plays exceptionally well and takes a ton of wins in the second half of the season."

Collins has re-signed with the San Diego Padres for another two years, until the end of 2017, and said he could be back for a fifth season in charge of the Cavalry if they let him.

Normally he flies back to the US as soon as the ABL season is done, but he'll head to Sydney to join Australia's coaching staff for the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in Sydney in two weeks.

After a 17-hour break due to Saturday night's terrible weather, Adelaide got off to a great start with third-base Stefan Welch hitting a two-run home run to open the scoring in the top of the first inning.

But it turned into a pitching duel after that, until the bottom of the fifth, when Adelaide starter Steven Chambers hit Cavs outfielder David Harris with a pitch.

A River Stevens double got Harris home and then the scores were levelled when Jason Leblebijian followed suit.

Canberra third-base Bryan Pounds hit a solo home run in the following frame, which turned out to be the winning run.

The Cavs then started the better in the decider, albeit after Bite shortstop Travis Demeritte hit a solo homer, taking a 2-1 lead into the third inning.

But from there it was all Adelaide as they produced a four-run frame that the Cavalry never recovered from.

AT A GLANCE

Game two

Adelaide 200 000 000 - 2R 11H 0E

Canberra 000 021 00x - 3R 7H 0E

Win: Steven Kent (1-0, 3.00); Loss: Takuro Ito (0-1, 5.40); Cavs best: SP-Kent (6.0IP, 7H, 2R, 1W, 8K), RF-River Stevens (2-4, 1RBI), SS-Jason Leblebijian (1-2, 1RBI, 2W), 3B-Bryan Pounds (1-4, 1HR, 1RBI).

Game three

Adelaide 104 100 201 - 9R 12H 1E

Canberra 110 000 000 - 2R 12H 1E

Win: Nick Talbot (1-0, 1.59); Loss: Scott Cone (0-1, 13.50); Cavs best: SS-Jason Leblebijian (2-5, 1RBI), P-Phil Kish (2.0IP, 1H, 0R, 0W, 1K).