Perth Heat 2 bt Canberra Cavalry 1
Perth celebrates its ABL title. Photo: SMP Images
Canberra Cavalry is licking its wounds after relinquishing its Australian Baseball League championship, but is encouraged it had the chance to defend its crown.
For the second night in a row, the Cavalry suffered a one-run loss, going down 2-1 to the Perth Heat in game two of the best-of-three series in Perth in the early hours of Sunday morning, Canberra time.
It ends a rollercoaster season for the 2012-13 Claxton Shield holder. The team started its title defence in impressive fashion in the first half of the campaign.
The historic victory in the Asia Series in November, the first Australian team to not only win a game but the entire tournament, gave the Cavalry vital momentum heading into the new year.
But a change in import rules reducing the number of non-Australian players the Cavalry was allowed to use coincided with a drop in form.
The Cavalry scraped into the play-offs in third spot before pulling off a stunning upset win over the Sydney Blue Sox in the preliminary finals series.
Cavalry general manager Thom Carter said it was too soon to know which import players would be returning next season.
''We will dissect this series loss and talk to the imports before they leave town and gauge their interest at coming back,'' Carter said.
''We view this as a fairly successful season.
''Winning in Asia was huge, and while we struggled down the stretch, we were happy with being able to defend our title.
''These were two close games and you can't beat yourself up about it.''
Carter expected to start looking at next season's roster in May or June as Major League Baseball clubs make decisions on what their promising players will do in the off-season.
The Cavalry offence could manage only three hits off Heat starting pitcher Brian Baker, a home run from Jeremy Barnes in the top of the eighth inning proved to be the only joy on the scoreboard for the visitors.
Rebounding from the agonising 14th inning 4-3 loss in game one was always going to be difficult after the Cavalry gave up a three-run advantage.
The Heat made the early running with a run in the bottom of the first inning before doubling its lead in the sixth.
Cavalry starting pitcher Ethan Cole did a top job, giving up just two runs on 10 hits in 5⅔ innings. Cavalry cult hero Jack Murphy commended the team's effort and hinted he may be back for a third season.
The up-and-coming catcher is in the Toronto Blue Jays organisation and it will have the final say on whether he plays in Australia.
''Thanks to everyone for a great season!,'' Murphy tweeted.
''Came up a little short, but it's been a hell of a run … maybe see you all next year.''
The Cavalry is calling on fans to welcome the team back to Canberra at Narrabundah Ballpark on Monday at 10am.