Sean Toler at Narrabundah Ball Park. Photo: Graham Tidy
Cavalry pitching ace Sean Toler wants to emulate the feats of the St Louis Cardinals and deliver an inaugural championship to his adopted home town.
Having been immersed in the mania of the Cardinals winning the 2011 World Series, the St Louis native is driven to take surprise packets Canberra to the summit of the Australian Baseball League.
After missing the play-offs in its first two seasons, the second-placed Cavalry (10-7) is firmly in the title hunt as it heads into this weekend's four-game road series with the struggling Melbourne Aces (6-12) .
Toler's clutch pitching has been a key factor in the Cavalry's success.
The 25-year-old right-hander has emerged as the premier closer in the ABL, securing seven saves from his nine appearances and allowing a solitary run at a miserly earned run average of 0.87.
He was named the competition's pitcher of the week for his two saves in last weekend's 3-1 series win against the Sydney Blue Sox.
This time last year he was another fan soaking up the Cardinals' dramatic World Series triumph against the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers were one strike away from victory before Cardinals hitter David Freese came up trumps with a walk-off home run in the 11th to take the series to a deciding game seven.
Freese was named the World Series MVP as the Cardinals etched their name into the record books with a 6-2 win, sparking wild celebrations in St Louis.
''It was awesome, especially since it was led by David Freese, who's a St Louis guy and went to high school five minutes from my house,'' Toler said. ''I was working as a personal trainer at 5am the next morning after game six, and I was still buzzing off that World Series win that I didn't even sleep that night.
''In the streets, people were spraying beer on each other and carrying random people around, the cops were going crazy on the street. It was really cool.''
Toler was signed by the Cavalry after playing with Canberra teammates Steve Kent, Brian Grening and Dustin Loggins with the Kansas City T-Bones this year. He has embraced the responsibility of closing games out for a team he believes has genuine championship claims.
''Yeah, I think we can [win the title],'' Toler said.
''It was interesting starting out because we didn't play many spring training games and were just thrown together.
''Usually it takes some time before the team starts to gel and play as a single unit and I think we're starting to do that now.''
Toler's strong form hasn't been enough to warrant a late call-up to the seven-strong Cavalry contingent in the All Stars game in Melbourne on Sunday.
Kent is the lone Team Australia representative, while Grening, Jeremy Barnes, KC Hobson, Kody Hightower, Jack Murphy and Jonathan Jones will take to the pitch for the World All Stars.
Game one of the four-game series with the Aces is at 7.35pm on Thursday.
Meanwhile, former Cavalry shortshop Didi Gregorius was on Wednesday traded from the Cincinnati Reds to the Arizona Diamondbacks.