Cavalry 10 Aces 3
Cavalry hold the Aces
Cavalry ace Brian Grening. Photo: Melissa Adams
It was always going to be an emotional night for Canberra Cavalry starting pitcher Brian Grening and while his walkout song ''got'' him, the Melbourne Aces couldn't.
Grening was able to settle and led the Cavs to a 10-3 win in their Australian Baseball League season opener against the Aces at Narrabundah Ballpark on Thursday night.
Pearl Jam's ''Just Breathe'' was a song he shared with host mum Toni Forder, playing it on his guitar around the house.
He chose it in honour of Forder, who died in a freak houseboat accident in the Northern Territory recently, but as he walked out to the mound the emotions started to build up.
''I wish I wouldn't have picked the walkout song that I chose, because we shared that and I thought it would be a good thing, but it got me. It was special but it got me,'' Grening said.
It was the perfect opening to Canberra's Claxton Shield defence - a bit of early rust in the field was soon blown out as Grening got to work on the mound.
He struck out the first two Aces hitters, ending up with eight strikeouts from his seven innings, with no earned runs.
With Grening in full control, the Cavs' offence slowly got into gear, although they did rely on some awful defence from Melbourne.
Aces shortstop Darryl George and second baseman Aaron Sayers both struggled, fumbling ground balls, George dropping an absolute sitter that loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth and started a deluge of Cavalry runs.
They piled on four runs to jump to a 5-2 lead and then backed it up with a five-spot in the sixth.
The game drifted along from there with the Cavs having already put it beyond the reach of an Aces side that showed why they finished bottom last season.
Apart from a ninth-inning scare when closer Chris Motta loaded the bases, it was nothing but good signs for the Cavs.
Grening's fast ball painted the corners, especially against lefties, while shortstop Shane Opitz looks like a real find.
He's got a cannon for a right arm and knows how to get on base, albeit courtesy of some Aces errors.
Left field Casey Frawley, a mate of Canberra catcher Jack Murphy, went 4-5 and drove a run in for a sparkling debut.
Second baseman Jon Berti, Murphy, Jeremy Barnes and centre fielder Mike Crouse all got their bats swinging nicely.
The two teams will resume hostilities at the Fort on Friday night, with Ethan Cole starting for the Cavalry.
Cavalry's best: P-Brian Grening (7IP, 0ER, 1BB, 8K); 3B-Jeremy Barnes (3-5, 3RBI, 2R); C-Jack Murphy (2-4, BB, 2RBI); CF-Mike Crouse (2-5, 3RBI); LF-Casey Frawley (4-5, RBI). Crowd: 1824.