Imanaga departs with ‘awesome’ Canberra Cavalry win over Auckland
"Canberra is awesome." With those three words Cavalry star pitcher Shota Imanaga left Narrabundah Ballpark.
It left manager Keith Ward expecting to cry for the rest of the season, thinking of what he'd lost.
The Yokohama DeNA Baystar will return to Japan having made a massive impact on the Cavalry.
Auckland Tuatara will have stopped crying now he's gone after he guided the home side to a 9-0 win on Saturday night.
Imanaga gave up a hit in the first inning, but that was the only Auckland base runner he allowed, while he struck out 13 of them.
From his six games with the Cavalry, he had four wins, gave up just two earned runs for an earned-run average of 0.51, allowed one solitary walk and struck out 57 hitters.
That's some arm to replace, but Ward was confident they could cover him with Kyle Kinman and Josh Warner the early favourites to come into the starting rotation.
"I'm going to cry for the rest of the season I think," Ward joked.
"He just continues to do what Shota does. He goes out there and gives us six innings of fantastic baseball, gives us a chance to win every time he's gone out there and he's going to be a big loss for us.
"It's going to be a challenge for us rolling up next week to figure out the game three start, but I'm confident we've got the pieces."
The Cavalry were wearing the Bushrangers jersey in honour of the team that played in the old ABL back in the 90s.
"We might have to wear those jerseys again," Ward said given they're undefeated wearing them.
Unlike on Friday night, when they gave up nine runs in the final two innings to lose 10-6, the Cavalry bullpen was able to come out and get the job done after Imanaga's dominant performance.
First JR Bunda and then Kyle Kinman helped keep the shutout in place.
Ward said it was the "kick in the pants" that rammed home the message you need to "put the foot on the throat" when you've got someone down.
While Cavalry starter Imanaga was lights out, the Tuatara starter struggled.
Josh Collmenter played 214 MLB games for Arizona Diamondbacks and the Atlanta Braves, but that didn't stop the Canberra offence from taking to him.
It all started to go wrong in the bottom of the second.
Kyle Perkins drove in two runs to open the scoring, which in turn opened the Cavalry floodgates.
Mike Fransoso, Cam Warner, Craig Massey, Zach Wilson and David Kandilas all got in on the act to bring runners home.
Seven runs later and the Cavalry had set up a match-winning lead.
Canberra first-base Boss Moanaroa had been stuck on 199 ABL hits since last Sunday, but he brought up the 200 in the third inning.
Zach Wilson kept the scoreboard ticking over with a solo home run in the sixth to make it 9-0 on a night when outfielder Kandilas continued to rediscover his best.
He's had eight hits from 13 at-bats this series, which the Cavalry now lead 2-1 and will look to wrap up in game four on Sunday at 7pm.
"The Kandy that we've known the last couple of seasons has arrived," Ward said.
"I said all along to him that, 'You got off to a slow start, but I prefer you to be banging them around in the second half than the first half.
"The guy's too good a hitter to be down for too long."
AT A GLANCE
Tuatara 000 000 000 0R 2H 1E
Cavalry 070 101 00x 9R 16H 0E
David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.