Sport

Canberra Cavalry extend ABL lead with Brian Grening shutout of Perth Heat

Canberra Cavalry pitching coach Hayden Beard says starter Brian Grening is producing "something special" that he'd be "surprised to see again" in the Australian Baseball League.

Grening wrote himself into the ABL record books when he became the first pitcher to produce three nine-innings shutouts in the young league.

Canberra Cavalry starter Brian Grening became the first pitcher in ABL history to pitch three nine-innings shutouts.
Canberra Cavalry starter Brian Grening became the first pitcher in ABL history to pitch three nine-innings shutouts. Photo: SMP Images

It set up the Cavalry's 6-0 victory over reigning champions Perth Heat in Perth on Thursday night and extended Canberra's lead at the top of the ABL ladder.

Grening bounced back from a disappointing outing the last time he started – giving up seven runs from just 2⅔ innings.

He has been brilliant so far this season, with an earned-run average of 2.45 to go with his three shutouts and he leads the league in strikeouts (43).

The 30-year-old made it to AAA class – the level below the Major Leagues – as part of the Cleveland Indians system, but was released in 2010.

That led him to joining the Cavalry for the 2011-12 season and this year is his fifth season in a row Down Under.

He played integral roles in the Cavalry's inaugural Claxton Shield win and their amazing Asia Series triumph in Taiwan.

Beard was unsure where Grening sat in the history of ABL pitchers, but what he was producing this year might not be repeated again.

"I definitely think what we're all seeing this year is something special. I'd be surprised if we see it again in this league," Beard said.

"As far as where does that put him, it's tough to say right now because he's still playing.

"When he's hung the boots up he'll be remembered as a guy who's done some pretty special things in this league."

Steven Kent (2.02 ERA) has also been brilliant in the Cavs' starting rotation this season, but Canberra manager Michael Collins is yet to fully settle on the other two spots.

Beard hoped Brazilian Rafael Fernandes would lock down one of the roles, while sitting on top of the ABL ladder gave the Cavs the luxury to try a few things with their fourth starter.

Uni of Canberra student Scott Cone gets the role against Perth on Sunday, but Wade Korpi, Aaron James Thompson and Toronto Blue Jays prospect Colton Turner have all started as well.

"The kind of guy [Fernandes] is and the pitcher he is that starting role is the one that suits him pretty well," Beard said.

"He can come in and set the tone and lay the foundation for the bullpen to come in on the back of him and close out the game."

With game two played overnight – started by Fernandes – they'll resume the four-game series on Saturday night at 10.05pm with Kent on the mound.

Canberra   1  0  4  0  1  0 0  0  0 - 6R 11H 1E

Perth          0  0  0  0  0  0 0  0  0 - 0R 3H 1E

Cavalry's best: SP Brian Grening (9.0IP, 3H, 0R, 1BB, 9K); 1B Boss Moanaroa (1-5, 1HR, 3RBI); 3B  Bryan Pounds (3-5, RBI).