Sport

Canberra Cavalry clinch ABL playoff spot with victory over Sydney Blue Sox

Two months ago Scott Cone had never played in the Australian Baseball League.

Now the starting pitcher has guaranteed the Canberra Cavalry a spot in the playoffs with a complete game shutout.

Cavalry starter Scott Cone pitched a complete game shutout against Sydney on Sunday.
Cavalry starter Scott Cone pitched a complete game shutout against Sydney on Sunday. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Cone's miserly pitching led Canberra to a 5-0 victory over the Sydney Blue Sox at Narrabundah Ballpark on Sunday, which ensured they can finish no lower than third.

The 23-year-old came to Canberra to finish his physiotherapy studies when he came up on the Cavalry's radar.

Remarkably, he only threw one strikeout, instead getting groundout after groundout with the odd flyball thrown in between.

He gave up his one hit in the top of the third, with Sydney second-baseman Tyler Bortnick ultimately preventing what would have been a no-hitter.

Advertisement

Cone spoke to senior players Brian Grening and Jack Murphy after a couple of bad outings.

"I'm ecstatic just to be doing that today for myself personally and also clinching ABL playoffs for Canberra Cavalry," he said.

"It's a huge game, not just for me, but for the club in general. I had a few rough outings a few weeks ago and I learnt some things. I've spoken to some senior guys, made some adjustments and it's been paying off ever since."

Canberra got off to a quick start, with a series of singles in the top of the first inning ending with cult hero Jack Murphy driving in outfielder River Stevens to open the scoring.

But from there the runs dried up and it turned into a pitching duel between Cone and Sydney starter Jan Stoecklin.

Canberra didn't take advantage of its opportunities until the bottom of the fifth when Blue Sox first-baseman Rhys Hoskins dropped a regulation play to allow Boss Moanaroa to get on base instead of ending the inning.

With the bases loaded, Canberra catcher Ryan Miller drove in two runs.

Canberra scored two more in the seventh just for good measure as Cone closed the game out.

The win secured the Cavalry a playoff spot and they face what could be a preview of the first week of the finals with a four-game series against the third-placed Adelaide Bite in Adelaide to finish the home-and-away season.

If they win one game there, they'll clinch second spot, but they need an unlikely three more wins than the Brisbane Bandits — who host the struggling Perth Heat — to regain top spot.

Cavalry chief executive Donn McMichael said the preliminary final between second and third would be a home-and-away series — unless the ABL changes its mind.

"It's definitely home-and-away, but it's subject to the ABL. What we chose was games two and three [of the best-of-three finals series]," McMichael said.

Cavalry pitcher Rafael Fernandes will return to Japan on Wednesday but was keen to remain involved in the club either as a player of a scout.

GAME FOUR

SYDNEY        0  0  0 0  0  0 0  0 0  -  0R  1H   0E

CANBERRA  1  0  0  0  2  0 2 0 x   - 5R  13H  2E

Win: Scott Cone (3-2, 4.93); Loss: Jan Stoecklin (4-4, 4.89); Cavalry's best: P-Cone (9.0IP, 0R, 1H, 3W, 1K, 1PK), C-Ryan Miller (1-3, 2RBI, 1W), DH-Jack Murphy (2-4, 1RBI, 1W), LF-Aaron Sayers (2-4, 1RBI).