Brisbane Bandits send ABL championship series against Canberra Cavalryman to decider
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Brisbane Bandits send ABL championship series against Canberra Cavalryman to decider

It all comes down to a do-or-die final for the Claxton Shield, as an ex-Cavalryman came back to bite Canberra.

But Canberra Cavalry manager Keith Ward wouldn't want the ball in anyone else's hands in Sunday's decider - he's got his bulldog and best pitcher in the Australian Baseball League, Frank Gailey.

Canberra Cavalry's  Casey McElroy.

Canberra Cavalry's Casey McElroy.

Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

Ward tipped his hat to Brisbane Bandits starting pitcher Tim Atherton, who was almost unhittable in game two of the Australian Baseball League championship series, with the home side too strong in the 12-2 victory in Brisbane on Saturday night.

It's Atherton's first season with the Bandits after they poached him from Canberra and he got through a brilliant seven innings of work, that included 11 strikeouts and just three hits.

Now it comes down to a do-or-die game three with the Claxton Shield on the line in Brisbane on Sunday at 5pm.

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The ABL's best pitcher, Frank Gailey, will start on the mound for the Cavalry looking to replicate his epic performance to beat the Perth Heat last Sunday.

Ward was full of confidence Gailey could get the job done.

"At the end of the day, we've got our guy on the mound tomorrow. Frank's been the best pitcher in the league all year," he said.

"For game three of the championship I wouldn't want the ball in anybody else's hands to start the game ... he's a real bulldog."

It could've been a different story for Atherton, after he opened the door for the Cavalry to get off to a flyer, but the visitors weren't able to take advantage of the two base runners in the opening frame of the game.

From there, Atherton never looked troubled.

Instead, it was the Bandits bats who were swinging freely, hitting back-to-back home runs in their opening two frames to set up a commanding 5-0 lead by the bottom of the second.

It all started with former Cavalry outfielder Donald Lutz, who hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the first, which was followed up with Chih-Sheng Lin's solo shot.

Lin and Andrew Campbell did most of the damage at the plate for the Bandits, with a combined four home runs as part of the seven runs they drove in for the night.

Ward hoped it would be his hitters on fire on Sunday.

"You've got to tip your cap to the guy, [Atherton] was a great pitcher for us and he's continued on his way up here in Brisbane," Ward said.

"Obviously got plenty of runs on the board so he could go out there and pitch his game, and he didn't give our guys a hell of a lot to put good swings on.

"I'd like to think they got all their hits out tonight and we're due to put some crooked runs on the board tomorrow and we'll see how we go."

The Cavalry will now look to regroup for one last crack at winning their second Claxton Shield and ending Brisbane's two-year reign at the top of the ABL.

AT A GLANCE

Canberra 000 100 010 - 2R 8H 1E

Brisbane 320 122 20x - 12R 12H 1E

Cavalry best: Travis Witherspoon (1-4, 1HR, 1RBI), Boss Moanaroa (1-4, 1HR, 1RBI).

David Polkinghorne

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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