A poor infielding display robbed the Canberra Cavalry a chance to cement themselves in the top four after an 8-7 loss to Melbourne Aces at Narrabundah yesterday.
Two errors from short-stop Kody Hightower handed the game to the Aces on a platter, allowing the visitors to leapfrog Canberra into fourth. Hightower's error in the first inning helped the Aces take the early lead, but it was his blooper in the third that proved most damaging.
The shortstop's wayward throw to first base allowed Brad Harman and Justin Huber to score, and when a single from Darryl George sent Joshua Hendricks home the visitors were up 5-2.
It took just one pitch in the fourth inning for Melbourne catcher Shota Nakata to increase the gap to 6-2 with a home run over right field.
And when Melbourne star Carlo Testa scored his third run of the day off a Huber fly ball, the Cavalry found themselves in a 7-2 hole.
In the bottom of the fourth, they squandered a huge opportunity to get back in the game when Adam Buschini popped out to second baseman Scott Wearne, down two outs and with bases loaded.
But they didn't let the chance slip in the fifth inning, singles from Jack Murphy and Josh Matavesi driving home two much-needed Cavalry runs.
However, they did leave bases loaded for the second straight innings.
After a couple of quiet innings, the Cavalry continued their fightback in the eighth, when Matavesi scored off a Jonathan Jones ground out to reduce the deficit to 7-5.
Hightower earned some redemption when his single sent two runs home in the bottom of the ninth, allowing the Cavalry to close to 8-7 with two outs.
Ryan Stovall fell a few metres short of hitting a game-winning home run for the Cavalry at the next at bat.
The result means the Aces (5-5) edge ahead of the Cavalry (4-5) in the race for fourth spot.
The Cavalry will rue the game as one that got away, with errors and men stranded on base giving the Aces a huge leg up.
But Canberra manager Michael Collins wasn't too perturbed.
''It always hurts a little bit, but up until this point we've been playing great defence and our pitching has been unbelievable,'' he said. ''You have to give the offence credit for sticking in there and fighting the whole time, but it's disappointing to come up short in the end.
''Fifteen hits and seven runs, with our pitching over the course of the season that will be enough to win a lot of ball games.''
Canberra travels to Adelaide to play the Bite in a four-game series next weekend.
MELBOURNE ACES 1 0 4 2 0 0 0 0 1 8
CANBERRA CAVALRY 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 2 7