AS MICHAEL Wells faced a packed, multilingual press conference, having just helped create Australian Baseball League history, he admitted to still being in awe of playing in the Asia Series.
The Canberra Cavalry - a bunch of minor leaguers, public servants and part-timers with a total payroll of just $47,000 - had just defeated Taiwan professional team EDA Rhinos 2-0 at Taichung on Saturday.
They became the first Australian team to win a game at the Asia Series and the first to make the play-offs, regardless of the result against Japan champions Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles at Taoyuan on Sunday.
And it all started with Wells - the 40-year-old hit a double to left-field in the top of the second.
In a team that has been criticised for being made up of American imports, fellow Canberran Aaron Sloan then drove Wells in with a double of his own to give the massive underdogs an early lead they would never give up.
Wells, the oldest player at the tournament, was blown away by it all. He said: ''I played in Europe a little bit, but to come to a championship like this, it's a pretty good feeling. I guess I'm a little bit in awe. They're a very good team; the guy throwing up there threw some very good pitches, it was tough at times. The fans were crazy, the music and chanting was non-stop, it was great.''
The game became a pitching duel between Cavalry starter Mike Ekstrom, who was named most valuable player, and his Rhinos counterpart Matt Torra.
Ekstrom lasted 6.1 innings, giving up eight hits and striking out five hitters and, crucially, got out of a bind in the bottom of the fourth.
With bases loaded and no outs, the former major leaguer produced a crucial strike out and forced Lin Wei-En to ground into a double play to end the inning.
The arm wrestle resumed until the top of the ninth, when right-field Mike Crouse got on base, then Wells followed suit to put runners at the corners.
Crouse stole home on a passed ball to double the visitors' lead and end Torra's night, just short of lasting all nine innings.
Cavalry closer Sean Toler finished it off, striking out the first two hitters before having a nervous moment when Su Jiang-Rong got on base. But he forced the groundout to write the Cavs into the history books.
''Today was the result of the time and effort put in over the years of Australian baseball to develop talented players, but also a talented team, so today was just a great result for all that hard work,'' Cavalry coach Michael Collins said.
''We put ourselves in a situation with a quality team. We played a great game of baseball today and we all saw what happened in the end.''
Collins is now now looking for a second win against the Golden Eagles, although he might try a few new things.
Brian Grening will still get the start against a roster valued at $23.5 million.
■ Cavalry's best: DH-Wells (2-3, HBP), 1B-Sloan (1-3, RBI), P-Ekstrom (6.1IP, W, 8H, 5K, 0ER), P-Toler (1IP, 2K, 1H, S), P Lyman (1.2IP, 2K, 0H).
- David Polkinghorne is in Taiwan as a guest of the Canberra Cavalry.