Canberra Cavalry's Michael Wells claims the scalp of Aces' Scott Wearne at Narrabundah Ballpark on Saturday. Photo: Colleen Petch
JUST a few weeks ago, Ryan Stovall was toiling in total anonymity for the Tuggeranong Vikings in the local competition.
But on Saturday night, he emerged as a key plank in the Canberra Cavalry's finals hopes with an instrumental performance in a 5-3 comeback win over Melbourne Aces.
In front of a sellout crowd at Narrabundah Ballpark, Stovall's clutch hitting in pressure situations proved the difference.
Canberra Cavalry pitcher Hirokazu Shiranita winds up for a pitch. Photo: Colleen Petch
The win allowed the Cavalry to square its season ledger at 4-4, and take a 2-1 lead over the Aces in their series, to be completed on Sunday.
With his team down 1-0 and staring at two outs in the third inning, Stovall hit a single and stole a base to keep the inning alive.
He was then singled home by Adam Buschini to level the scores at 1-1.
In the sixth inning, Fujihara Masanori replaced Chris Gottas as Cavalry pitcher, with the Aces on the attack with loaded bases and no outs.
And they capitalised when Justin Huber and Elliot Biddle scored off ground outs to put Melbourne back in front 3-1.
In the bottom of the seventh, Cavalry designated hitter Michael Wells blasted a home run over deep left field to get the hosts back into the game at 3-2.
It was the cue for more Stovall heroics.
Down two outs, the 25-year-old hammered a line drive to send Marcus Knecht home from second base and level the game.
In the bottom of the eighth, back-to-back singles from Marcus Knecht and Jack Murphy allowed Jonathon Jones and Wells to score for the Cavalry.
The win not only breathed new life into Canberra's season, but also Stovall's career.
Stovall took a gamble by joining Tuggeranong after a stint in the US Independent League, effectively the sixth division in the States.
He got his chance with the Cavalry in last week's series against Brisbane Bandits, and he hasn't looked back since.
''I really wasn't sure I'd get a chance to play with the Cavalry, I came here and started with a club team and things have just worked out,'' he said.
''It [the two singles] felt good. I just tried not to do too much, just get good wood on them and luckily they got through.''
In the earlier game on Saturday, the Cavalry nearly let a massive lead slip before holding out a late Melbourne rally to win a seven inning thriller 10-9.
AT A GLANCE
Friday: Melbourne 5 bt Canberra 3; Saturday: Canberra 10 bt Melbourne 9; Canberra 5 bt Melbourne 3; Today: Game four at Narrabundah Ballpark at 1pm.