Cavalry relishes life at top
Canberra's Adam Buschini scored two runs. Photo: SMP Images
Jeremy Barnes embraces the Canberra Cavalry's new-found status as Australian Baseball League favourite, but he knows that makes them a target for the other teams.
The Cavalry are clear of the chasing pack at the top of the ABL ladder after two sensational wins over reigning champions Perth Heat, in Perth.
It means the hunter has become the hunted, but Barnes doesn't see the favourite status as a burden.
''We embrace the challenge, all eyes are looking at us right now in the league and we embrace that,'' Barnes told The Canberra Times on Sunday.
''It's just we can't get too far in front of ourselves, if we go out … and throw up goose eggs and don't play very well, then we're right back in the situation we were in when we came into this series, so we've got to keep the foot on the gas pedal.''
The Cavs are making a habit of producing huge rallies and did so again on Saturday night.
Trailing 5-1 going in the top of the eighth, the Cavalry hitters exploded into life and generated what seemed an endless stream of hits and runs.
By the time the Heat had scrounged three outs, Canberra was leading 6-5. Cavs reliever Dustin Loggins walked Perth designated hitter Elliott Hargreaves with the bases loaded, levelling it at 6-all, but the Canberra bats weren't finished.
Outfielder Marcus Knecht sent a double to left field, which got home Antonio Callaway and Michael Wells, and it was up to closing pitcher Sean Toler to finish the game. Ryan Stovall, Adam Buschini, Barnes, Wells, Knecht and Adam Jacobs all connected when it mattered.
With the loss of K.C. Hobson to calf injury and Kohei Shibata, who was recalled to Japan, all the Cavalry bats stepped up but, Barnes said, the player losses had not worried them.
''That's the beauty of our team - we're pretty versatile, we've got a lot of guys that can play different positions and that lends well to the situation we're in,'' he said.
''I wouldn't say it's a conscious thing where we're looking to replace them, we're just trying to go out and play our game.''
It's good they have stepped up because Cavalry general manager Peter Bishell said it was likely the club had missed out on signing potential replacements. ''It would be nice to have a little bit more depth because we're one injury away [from being short],'' he said on Sunday.
The Cavalry have only three available players not on the 22-man roster in Perth - Kyle Perkins, Chris Morgan and Ben Warner.
The final game of the series is on Monday night.
CANBERRA 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 2 - 8
PERTH 1 2 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 - 6
At Barbagallo Ballpark, Perth, on Saturday night. Crowd: 1372.
Runs - Canberra: Buschini 2, Callaway 2, Wells 2, Stovall, Barnes; Perth: de San Miguel 2 (1 home run), Khoury (home run), Webb (home run), Bell, Hargreaves.