Canberra Cavalry bats struggle to split series with Auckland Tuatara
The Canberra Cavalry lost the game and their manager lost his temper as they missed the perfect chance to move into the play-off places.
They lost the fourth and final game of the series against the Auckland Tuatara 3-2 at Narrabundah Ballpark on Sunday, which split the series.
But the game was under protest before a pitch was thrown because Auckland starting pitcher Scott Richmond wasn't part of the original roster and didn't come in to replace an injured player.
It's now up to the ABL to rule on the protest, showing in the past they weren't afraid to strip teams of wins when they did it to the Cavalry several years ago.
With Brisbane losing earlier in the day, the Cavalry had the chance to go second in the north-west division.
But their offence struggled and Cavalry manager Keith Ward was ejected in the bottom of the seventh.
He took exception to some of the umpire's strike calls and was tossed after covering home plate with dirt.
Ward said he was simply protecting his players from having the same fate.
"There were a couple of calls there that I didn't think were close and went against us … but more than anything it's just about trying to protect my players and make sure the players know I've got their back when they think things aren't going their way," Ward said.
Cavalry starting pitcher Steve Chambers got off to a slow start, walking Auckland's first hitter and giving up two runs in the opening frame.
But he was able to settle into his work after that and got through five innings without any more damage.
His importance has increased following the departure of star Japanese starting pitcher Shota Imanaga, with the Cavalry needing to find someone else to join the starting rotation.
"He knows how to pitch out of jams, he knows how to minimise damage," Ward said of Chambers.
"He came out of the game and it was 2-2 after five and I would've thought we would've been good enough to score a couple more runs to get him the W."
Not surprisingly it was Mike Fransoso who awoke the Cavalry offence from its slumber for the one inning it came to life.
He's hit the ground sprinting since joining the Cavalry midway through the ABL season, averaging .407 from his 15 games.
The shortstop drove in Logan Kingham and was then brought home himself by third-base Cam Warner to level the scores after three.
But that was all they mustered and Canberra reliever Yuki Kuniyoshi gave up a run in the top of the sixth to put the visitors back in front with a lead they never gave up.
Ward said the Cavalry's fate was still in their own hands, playing both Sydney and Brisbane – the two teams above them – in the next two series.
They'll face the Blue Sox at home, with the four-game series starting Thursday.
AT A GLANCE
TUATARA 200 001 000 3R 11H 0E
CAVALRY 002 000 000 2R 4H 0E
David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.