Frustrated Calvary pitcher Brian Grening. Photo: Melissa Adams
Sam Stosur isn't the only one struggling to hold a lead - the Canberra Cavalry are making an art form of it at the business end of the season with a 12-8 loss to the Sydney Blue Sox at Narrabundah Ballpark on Thursday night.
Two crucial fielding errors by Cavalry third-base Jeremy Barnes set up a six-run second innings that would prove the difference.
A week ago the Cavalry was 4½ games clear on top of the Australian Baseball League ladder and coasting towards its first play-offs appearance.
The happy Sydney dug out. Photo: Melissa Adams
Thursday night's loss made it six in a row and Canberra slipped to second, one win behind Sydney.
Canberra coach Michael Collins denied the team was in freefall and said the Cavalry still had its destiny in its own hands.
''When [the errors] happen in the second inning that just sets the tone, puts them in the driver's seat,'' he said.
Sydney runner JD Williams makes it safe back to second base. Photo: Melissa Adams
''Errors happen, but when multiple errors on the one play, errors that at this level you just can't make … and those are some of the errors we've made.''
It looked like Cavalry had shaken off last week's disastrous trip to Brisbane with starting pitcher Brian Grening throwing a solid first inning before second-base Adam Buschini drove Ryan Stovall in for a 1-0 lead.
But then disaster struck. Barnes mis-gloved two simple ground balls that would've ended the second inning with the scores locked at 1-all.
Instead, Grening was forced to scrap for outs as his pitch counted mounted along with score - 6-1 down after two.
Blue Sox second-base Trent D'Antonio compounded the pain with a three-run home run in the third. From six visits to the plate, D'Antonio had five hits, including the homer, with four runs batted in.
The Cavalry has the chance for redemption in game two at The Fort on Friday at 7pm.
AT A GLANCE
SYDNEY 0 6 3 0 1 0 2 0 0 - 12
CANBERRA 1 0 0 2 0 0 4 0 1 - 8
At Narrabundah Ballpark on Thursday night. Crowd: 1383.
Runs - Sydney: D'Antonio 4 (1 home run), Williams 2, Robbins, Klein, Schmutter, Penprase, Moanaroa, Dening; Canberra: Hightower 2 (1 home run), Barnes (home run), Knecht (home run), Stovall, Wells, Sloan, Callaway.