Canberra Cavalry's Jeremy Barnes slides into third. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
CANBERRA coach Michael Collins was a relieved man last night now he has his first Australian Baseball League win as a head coach.
It came courtesy of a KC Hobson home run in the bottom of the seventh, which broke the deadlock and gave the Cavalry a 2-1 victory over the Sydney Blue Sox at Narrabundah Ballpark.
While the Cavs won the game, they lost the series after going down in the first two games in what was a tight, pitcher-dominated three-game set.
Canberra Cavalry pitcher Robert Dickman. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
It hasn't taken Hobson long to win the hearts of the Cavalry faithful.
The first baseman has been solid in defence, making plenty of throws look better than they are.
Not only is he batting .600, but his first home run for the club was a timely one.
With scores locked at 1-all in the bottom of the seventh, the clean-up hitter sent Blue Sox starter Craig Anderson over the right-field fence for a solo home run.
It was the second time Anderson's head spun around, watching the ball sail into the night.
Cavalry centre field Jonathan Jones was responsible for the first.
Off just Anderson's second pitch of the night, Jones swung hard and straight, smashing it over the wall in centre field.
Everyone saw the home runs, but Collins was also praising Hobson's defence.
''You see the big home runs and that's amazing and great, which it is, but making those plays at first base, that's huge,'' Collins said.
''It helps the pitchers, it helps the infield, it helps the whole team.''
While the homers were the glamorous side of the win, it was all set up by a sensational debut on the pitching mound by Chris Motta.
The New York native put in six solid innings and gave up just three hits and one run, while striking out four Blue Sox.
At times, he did it in front of a shaky defence, with a few fumbles threatening to see the Blue Sox replicate what they had done in the previous two games of the series: find a way to win a close game.
Motta was nervous heading out for his first outing as a professional athlete, but a three-up, three-down first inning reassured him.
''A lot of emotions were surging through my head. It took a while because we had a double-header, so I had to pace myself mentally as well as physically,'' Motta said.
''But once the game started and I told myself to focus on my breath and not let too many things get involved … once I got on the mound and cruised through that first inning, I just said, 'This is my time'.''
For the Blue Sox, Zachary Penprase was outstanding, as was closer Matthew Williams.
In the first game of yesterday's double-header, with bases loaded and scores locked at 1-all in the top of the sixth, Cavalry reliever Kyle Perkins hit Jacob Younis with a pitch to gift the winning run.
Next week the Cavalry has a bye, but will play two friendlies against the New Zealand national team, which is preparing for its World Baseball Classic qualifiers.
AT A GLANCE
Australian Baseball League, yesterday at Narrabundah Ballpark:
Blue Sox 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 2
Cavalry 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Blue Sox 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Cavalry 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 x 2