The Canberra Cavalry's season is on the line in a massive series against arch rivals Sydney Blue Sox in Canberra this weekend after suffering a ''reality check'' against the Brisbane Bandits.
Canberra went into the five-game series in Brisbane with a 4½-game lead at the top of the Australian Baseball League ladder, but by Sunday afternoon it was all gone and they were only ahead of the second-placed Blue Sox on a countback.
Both teams boast a 22-16 win-loss record so far.
The Cavalry couldn't get either its pitching or batting going all weekend, and Brisbane clean-swept the series with a 9-5 win in the fifth and final game on Sunday.
Canberra coach Michael Collins dismissed any thoughts of the Cavalry getting ahead of themselves.
He also didn't think the unusual start of the first game played a part - an abandoned game was resumed with the Cavalry trailing 6-1 in the top of the fourth.
It seemed to put the Cavs behind the eight ball and they never recovered.
But Collins said it was just a case of the Bandits maintaining their momentum throughout the weekend after some good pitching.
''It's a reality check, you come back down to earth, you regather and you go again next week,'' Collins said.
''You've always got to take the positive … the guys have got to strap it on and find a way to get things done.''
The Cavalry always seemed to be on the back foot and every time they looked like getting back into a game Brisbane would score, and Sunday was no different.
They led 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth - the first time they had led all weekend - but starting pitcher John Holdzkom gave up seven runs and the Cavs never recovered.
When they pulled back to 7-5 in the seventh after the lusty hitting of Adam Buschini and Jeremy Barnes, Bandits third-base CJ Beatty hit Kyle Perkins for a two-run homer to ensure the win.
Collins said playing the Blue Sox gave Canberra the opportunity to re-establish their lead at the top of the ABL ladder.
The first of the four-game series against Sydney gets under way at Narrabundah Ballpark on Thursday at 7pm.
AT A GLANCE
CANBERRA 0 0 0 1 0 2 2 0 0 - 5
BRISBANE 0 0 0 7 0 0 2 0 X - 9
Runs - Canberra: Barnes 2 (1 home run), Hightower, Buschini, Callaway; Brisbane: Beatty 2 (1 home run), Campbell, Alonso, Roberts, Clark, Dutton, Sutherland, Rhodes.
LADDER (W-L): CANBERRA CAVALRY 22-16, SYDNEY BLUE SOX 22-16, PERTH HEAT 20-17, Brisbane Bandits 19-19, Adelaide Bite 17-20, Melbourne Aces 13-25.