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Cavalry has eyes on Heat after win over Bandits

Date

David Polkinghorne

Canberra batter Adam Bushini unwinds against Brisbane on Sunday.

Canberra batter Adam Bushini unwinds against Brisbane on Sunday. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Look out Perth Heat, the Canberra Cavalry is coming to get you.

The Cavs go into the Christmas break on top of the Australian Baseball League ladder after an emphatic 9-2 win over the Brisbane Bandits at Narrabundah Ballpark on Sunday.

It was Canberra's fourth-straight series win.

Cavalry's Aaron Sloan rounds third to add another run on Sunday.

Cavalry's Aaron Sloan rounds third to add another run on Sunday. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Cavalry coach Michael Collins said he wanted to be the best team in the ABL and to do that Canberra had to beat the reigning champion Perth, who slipped to second after losing to Adelaide 5-4.

The Cavalry travels to Perth for a four-game series starting Friday, before returning to The Fort for another four-game series against the Heat.

''We've had Perth in our sights since before the season started,'' Collins said.

''They won it two years in a row, they've got another great team this year, and like I said at the start, we're setting out to win this thing.

''They were the best and if you want to win, if you want to be the best, you've got to take them down.''

With an eye to the play-offs, the Cavalry has bolstered its bullpen to replace the two Hanshin Tigers pitchers, Hirokazu Shiranita and Masanori Fujihara, who returned to Japan.

It has signed Bryan Herrera, Sean Guinard and Brodie Downs.

The first two play in ACT Baseball first grade, while Downs, a former Seattle Mariners AAA-class pitcher, will arrive New Year's Day.

Canberra was also hunting for a positional player and has a shortlist of three, including league reigning silver slugger Brian Burgamy, and was hoping to sign someone on Monday.

Collins said the the loss of ultra-consistent outfielder Kohei Shibata, who also returns to Japan, was a big one.

His left-handed bat has been crucial batting second, where he's averaged .345.

Shibata had three hits from five at-bats, scored twice and drove in two others on Sunday.

He was in tears after his final game for Canberra.

Collins hoped Ryan Stovall would be fit for Perth to take Shibata's place in the outfield.

''[Shibata] loves it here, we knew he liked it, but we didn't know he loved it this much,'' Collins said.

''He's loved that spot [in the batting line-up], took advantage of it and was able to play his game - take some singles, steal some bases, do some walks.

''Losing him will be a bit of a hit.''

The Cavs were always in control of the game, scoring three in the opening inning courtesy of a Jack Murphy three-run homer.

From there they ground the Bandits into the Narrabundah dirt, with the Brisbane pitchers scared of Kody Hightower's hitting. They refused to go anywhere near his strike zone and walked him four times, while his other at-bat was a single to right field.

''Big John'' Holdzkom dominated the mound for the Cavalry.

He threw six strikeouts, walked five and gave up just three hits in six innings for his second win.

Shiranita was equally miserly in his last stint for Canberra.

AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE

Brisbane 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 - 2

Canberra 3 0 0 0 2 0 3 1 x - 9

On Sunday at Narrabundah. Crowd: 787.

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