Cavalry walk off Aces in game three
Canberra Cavalry designated hitter Robbie Perkins celebrates his crucial three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth back in the dugout. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
ROBBIE Perkins came of age in the Australian Baseball League at Narrabundah Ballpark on Saturday, putting to bed any Canberra Cavalry concerns over the changed import rules.
The 19-year-old starred with the bat in a double-header against the Melbourne Aces, helping the Cavs to a come-from-behind 6-5 win in the first game and almost helping them across the line in a 7-6 loss in the second.
It means the Cavalry have a 3-1 win-loss record as they start their Claxton Shield defence.
Perkins managed a home run with his very first ABL hit to get the Cavs back into the first game and his sacrifice fly put his side ahead 4-3 in the second.
With the Cavalry needing three Australians in their batting line-up this year, up from two on last season, the catcher's emergence as a key player couldn't be more timely.
He also became a part of history, catching to brother Kyle in the second game - the first time brothers have combined like that for the Cavalry.
''It's a big confidence day for [Perkins],'' Cavalry coach Michael Collins said.
''This year was his first year over in the States [in the minor leagues for the Colorado Rockies], it's nice to have that immediate success.
''It kind of sets the tone, you feel comfortable, 'I can do it' and now later in the year he can draw on this.''
Cavalry centre-fielder Michael Crouse also had a big day with two important sacrifice flies - the first winning game one and the second levelling scores at 6-6 in game two. All four games in the series followed the same script - Melbourne taking an early lead before the Cavalry fought back.
If it wasn't for the final game, the Aces would've gone home feeling robbed after having control of all four games at certain points.
It took extra innings in the first game, with Cavalry starter Jeff Lyman having a shaky introduction to the ABL, giving up three runs in the opening inning before settling to complete 5.2 innings of work.
The Perkins homer levelled the scores, before Crouse was able to get the win in the first extra inning.
After missing the first two games, Aces shortstop Brad Harman flew in to bookend Melbourne's only win of the series with two home runs - sending Gavin Guarrera out of the park in the first inning before sealing the win with another bomb in the ninth.
Guarrera struggled to find the strike zone early and but for a great diving catch by third base Jeremy Barnes it could've been much worse than a 3-0 deficit.
Barnes struggled in defence last season, but was brilliant in all four games this series.
Again the Cavs rallied, with Perkins putting them up 4-3 in the fourth, but they couldn't pull off their second Houdini escape of the day following Harman's hit.
Collins wasn't concerned by the slow starts.
''I wouldn't say concerned because those same [starting pitchers] got through to the middle of the ball game and allowed us to be in the ball game - we were in all four games all the way,'' he said.
Next week they travel to Sydney for a three-game series against the Blue Sox.
Cavalry's best: Game one: P-Nick Pugliese (1.1IP, 2H, 0ER, 3K), DH-Robbie Perkins (2-3, 1HR, 3RBI), CF-Mike Crouse (0-3, RBI). Game two: CF-Crouse (2-3, 2RBI), DH-Michael Wells (2-4, RBI), C-Robbie Perkins (2-3, 2RBI).