Canberra Cavalry 4 bt Sydney Blue Sox 3
Canberra Cavalry closer Sean Toler produced a crucial double-play ball in the bottom of the ninth to help his side to a 4-3 win over the Sydney Blue Sox in game two of the ABL preliminary final series on Saturday night. Photo: SMP Images
If you’re orange it was clearly out, if you’re blue it was safe, but in the end it doesn’t matter as Canberra Cavalry closer Sean Toler ‘‘locked in’’ to produce a double play to send the Australian Baseball League preliminary final into the deciding game on Sunday.
The Cavalry led the Sydney Blue Sox 4-2 going into the ninth inning, needing to win to keep its hopes of defending its ABL championship alive.
Toler got the job done for a 4-3 Canberra victory in controversial circumstances at Blacktown on Saturday.
He came to the mound knowing Sydney had the wood on him from their last two outings and as the Blue Sox batters got on base it looked like it was going to happen again.
But with runners at first and third, Toler drew the ground ball to second-baseman Jon Berti to turn the double play on Sox outfielder Keon Broxton to end the game.
In a tight call, Broxton appeared to have made it and went berserk when he was called out as the tying run scampered towards home plate.
But he was called out and the Cavs celebrated.
It sets up a cracking rubber match on Sunday after the Blue Sox triumphed 18-11 over the Cavalry in Friday night’s series opener on a wild night at Narrabundah Ballpark.
Toler backed the umpire’s call.
‘‘That was crazy, that’s just how the game ended up getting to, we just had to grind it out those last few innings,’’ he said.
‘‘[I wasn’t] nervous, it’s just I know I’ve got to lock it because these guys have really good approaches at the plate and I know I’ve got to bring my best stuff.
‘‘That’s part of pitching the ninth inning, you’ve just got to be able to lock in.’’
Sydney only had itself to blame. Its defence was awful and it twice left the bases loaded.
It made four errors and the Cavs made it pay.
Canberra third-baseman Jeremy Barnes hit a solo home run in the top of third, before Jason Sloan went yard with a two-run shot over left field in the fourth.
It put the Cavs in control with starting pitcher Ethan Cole causing all sorts of trouble with his curve ball.
When the Cavalry made mistakes it was able to clean up its mess before any damage was done, like a Casey Frawley misfield that led to loaded bases when the inning should have been over.
Canberra reliever Clint Everts also got his curve ball going to produce a big strikeout in the bottom of the seventh with Sydney pressing.
Then it all came down to Toler.
He was confident going into the third-and-final game.
‘‘Winning the game before the decider is always a good thing, you use that momentum, we kind of ride off that feeling of positivity,’’ Toler said.
‘‘Especially being the third-placed team coming in we kind of had our backs against the wall from the start.’’
Steven Chambers will start the decider for Canberra at Blacktown on Sunday at 4pm.
Canberra 1 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 - 4r 4h 1e
Sydney 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 - 3r 12h 4e
Cavs’ best: 1B-J Sloan (1-4, 1HR, 2RBI), P-Cole (6.0IP, 7H, 1ER, 6K), 3B-Barnes (1-4, 1HR, 1R), SS-Frawley (1-3, 1RBI).