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Updated: November 18, 2013
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Copyright © 1997-2013
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2013 by Marco Stoovelaar

Canberra surprises, eliminates Lions to reach Asia Series-final
TAOYUAN CITY (Taiwan) - Canberra Cavalry recorded an upset victory on Monday (November 18) in the seventh edition of the Asia Series by defeating Samsung Lions 9-5 in 10 innings in the first semi-final. The Lions, champion of the Korean Baseball Organization, were one of the two favorites for the championship with Japanese champion Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. The Australians were leading 5-2 after four innings, but then the Koreans came alongside in the fifth inning. As the game remained tied, it went into extra innings and the Aussies then rallied for four runs in the top of the tenth inning to win 9-5. With the win, Canberra eliminated the Lions and reached the final of the event, which will be played on Wednesday. On Sunday, the Lions won its game in ten innings to finish in first place of its pool in the preliminary round. On Tuesday, the second semi-final will be played between the Golden Eagles and Taiwanese champion Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions.

Canberra Cavalry already was the first non-Asian team to reach the play-offs of the event, but now also becomes the first non-Asian team to reach the final. The Asia Series was held for the first time in 2005. No Asian Series were organized in 2009 and 2010.

Today's semi-final was played again in Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium on a chilly (18 degrees Celsius) and windy evening. As no Taiwanese team was involved in this game, it was attended by just over 1000 spectators.

Canberra struck early off of starter Young-soo Bae. In the first inning, the Aussies scored their first run. Jon Berti led off the game with a single, then stole second base. With one out, Berti also stole third base, then scored on a 2-out single by Jeremy Barnes.

The Lions came alongside immediately in its first at bat off of starter Brian Grening. Hyung-sik Jung led off with a single, stole second base and scored on a single by Han-yi Park.

Canberra re-took the lead in the second inning. The Australians got the bases loaded with two outs, then a walk for Mitch Dening brought in the run. But the team stranded three runners when a strikeout ended the inning.

Canberra added another run in the third at bat on a single by Michael Wells. The Koreans got one run back in the home of the third on a sacrifice fly by Han-yi Park to narrow the deficit to 3-2.

But then, the Cavalry took more distance by scoring twice in the fourth inning off of new pitcher Woo-chan Cha. The lefthander gave up a lead-off double to Shane Opitz, who then scored on a following single by Jon Berti. The latter then stole second base (while he appeared to be tagged out after oversliding the base) and batter Mitch Dening walked moments later. Next, Casey Frawley's bunt resulted in a force out on third base, but while trying to complete a double play at first base, the ball went into rightfield. Dening advanced to third base on the throwing error, then tried to score, but was eliminated on the plate after a throw from rightfield. Moments later, Frawley, who had moved to second base, scored the second run in the inning on a throwing error to increase the lead to 5-2.

In the next five innings, Canberra was silenced, while the Lions became more productive. And that led to a tie score in the bottom of the fifth inning when the Korean rallied for three runs. Ji-young Lee led off with a walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Chan-do Park, who stole second base, while the batter struckout. With one out, he scored on a single by Hyung-sik Jung to make it 5-3. Jung then stole second and third base. Hereafter, Han-yi Park walked and that led to a pitching change, as Brendan Wise took over for Grening. This season, Wise pitched for DOOR Neptunus, where he was primarily used as a reliever and closer. With Neptunus, Wise won the Dutch championship. Wise got the bases loaded, as he began with a walk for Tae-in Chae. The Lions then scored twice on a grounder by Suk-min Park. His grounder ended in a force out on second base, while Jung scored. The Australian defense then tried to complete a double play, but after receiving the ball, first baseman Aaron Sloan just looked at the umpire a moment too long. Park, the runner from second base, was waved home and went on to score the tying run and make it 5-5.

After four scoreless innings, the game went into extra innings and then Canberra rallied for four runs in the top of the tenth inning. Facing new pitcher Ji-man Ahn, Jeremy Barnes singled with one out, then catcher Jack Murphy followed with a 2-run homerun on a full count-pitch. Mike Crouse then also singled, which led to another pitching change. New pitcher Hyun-woo Kim saw Robbie Perkins reach on an error and Aaron Sloan then connected for a 2-run double to make it 9-5.

Leading 9-5, Sean Toler pitched the bottom of the tenth for Canberra and retired the side to seal the surprising victory and the clinching of the final.

(November 18)

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Copyright © 1997-2013 Marco Stoovelaar / Grand Slam * Stats & News.