Cavalry's pitcher John Holdzkom had a good game. Photo: Colleen Petch
The intense rivalry between the Canberra Cavalry and Sydney Blue Sox just got a little stronger after the hosts claimed a controversial 4-3 win at Narrabundah Ball Park on Sunday.
With scores locked at 3-all, the visitors were fuming when umpires ruled Ryan Stovall safe at home plate in the bottom of the 12th inning.
It looked a 50-50 call, and emotions spilled over for contrasting reasons as Canberra celebrated wildly in front of a dejected Sydney.
Jeremy Barnes slides into second base only to be tagged out by Blue Sox Trent D'Antonio. Photo: Colleen Petch
The win allowed the Cavalry [24-18] to draw level with Sydney atop the standings, and will head to Adelaide next week for its final regular season series intent on sewing up top spot, and a home championship series.
With Canberra ahead 3-2 heading into the ninth inning, Sydney prolonged the game after a Trent D'Antonio triple allowed Shane Benson to score.
The Cavalry held their nerve down the stretch, and no longer have to rely on other results to finish on top of the table. They hold what could prove a crucial tie-breaker over Sydney, thanks to one more win in their meetings this season.
Antonio Callaway has the CC logo shaved into the side of his head. Photo: Colleen Petch
With the final series trimmed from four teams to three this season, the Cavalry now hold a three-game lead over fourth-placed Perth, who were thrashed 8-2 by Brisbane on Sunday.
Sunday's result allowed Canberra to square the weekend series 2-2 against Sydney, a timely boost of confidence after losing all five matches in Brisbane last week.
It included a remarkable comeback win on Friday night, where the Cavalry rallied from 7-1 down to secure an 8-7 walk-off win.
Starting pitcher John Holdzkom has had a penchant for producing very hot, or very cold, form this season. On Sunday, it was the former, Holdzkom giving up just two hits in three innings. ''It was a massive game, it was nice to get the win right there, and we're now tied [with Sydney] going into the last series of the season, it's exciting,'' he said.
''I didn't really think about that [the Brisbane game]. You just know you have to pitch well regardless of the situation, and I got lucky I guess.
''It's always nice to have that experience in pressure situations, it's invaluable [before the bigger games].''
Closing pitcher Dustin Loggins stood up in the 11th and 12th innings, and admitted the team was down on confidence after the Brisbane series.
They're now hell-bent on carrying the momentum from this week into the series against a rejuvenated Adelaide, who are just two games outside the top three.
''We were kind of down, but we were still chirping away in the dugout trying to get everybody up,'' he said.
Loggins was diplomatic when asked if Stovall's winning run was the right decision.
''It's just two teams fighting for a play-off spot and fighting for first place, that [emotion] is going to happen, but I'm just glad we finished on top in the end.''
Sydney will look to keep the pressure on Canberra when they host an in-form Brisbane next week.