After having to go through that massacre we endured back in February against the Melbourne Aces that ended our championship hopes last season, all the boys were raring to go to Canberra to take on the Cavalry. Canberra is our closest opponent so we don't fly there. We caught the bus from Blue Sox Stadium at 10:00am on Friday. The bus trip is only about 3 hours, so its not as bad as some that I've been on.
In past seasons I've always roomed with pitchers on the road but this year I decided to mix it up and room with some position players. Wanted to do some research into whether the position players trash talk to the pitchers in their room. I roomed with Jacob Younis, Alessio Angelucci and JD Williams. We immediately went to get some lunch and do a little grocery shopping. Since we have fully serviced apartments we buy food that we can cook in our rooms. We didn't have too much time to relax once we got back to our rooms so we pretty much showered, got dressed and hopped in the vans to head to the field
Just like in the season opener two years ago, Chris Oxspring was given the honour of starting Opening Day for us. He was superb throwing 7 1/3 innings allowing only 1 run, which was a solo home run in the 2nd inning. Canberra's starting Brian Grening wasn't to be outdone as he also only allowed 1 run in 6 innings of work. It was a classic pitchers duel.
I came into the game in the 8th inning in relief of Chris and got out of the inning inducing a groundout and a strikeout. I came out for the bottom of the 9th inning with the scores still tied at 1-1 so if I gave up a run, we would have been packing up and heading back to the hotel. I started off very shakily walking my first hitter on 4 straight pitches then giving up a single to my second hitter. I knew the next hitter would attempt to bunt so I just tried to throw strikes to let him put the ball in play so we could get an out somewhere. Luckily for me he missed his first 2 bunt attempts, then I struck him out on a slider that he also attempted to bunt. The next hitter came up and I got to 0-2 on him as well, then 1-2 on a ball just a bit outside. I then came back inside and threw a strike belt high that froze him. I now had 2 outs, with 2 runners on base. The next guy came up to the plate and I started him off with a strike, then threw a slider down that the catcher missed and went to the backstop. The runners advanced to 3rd and 2nd. So now the winning run was only 90 feet away. I then got the hitter to 2 strikes, and then threw a slider again that struck him out swinging. I know its only the first game of a long season, but I was extremely pumped up to get out of the inning!
We were able to score 2 runs in the top of the 10th inning to take a 3-1 lead. Matt Williams came in to get the save allowing only 1 unearned run in the bottom of the inning. Blue Sox win the first game of the series 3-2.
This was the first game of a double header so it was only a 7 inning game, and the story of the day was Vaughan Harris. During Spring Training there was a battle for two starting rotation spots and Vaughan deserved his. He went 5 2/3 innings allowing 1 run while scattering 5 hits. The offense did just enough to earn him a win as we won this game 2-1. The offense was lead by Zach Penprase and Mitch Dening who each got 2 hits a piece.
Craig Anderson followed up Oxpsring and Harris's great starts by throwing 7 innings allowing only 3 hits. Unfortunately two of those hits were solo home runs. Even though we outhit the Cavalry, we still only managed to put 1 run up on the board. That run was driven in by Shane Benson in the 4th inning with a single to left field. We dropped our first game of the season on a score of 2-1.
All in all, it was good start to the season. Its always fun heading down to Canberra to take on our closest rivals, its even more fun when you beat them.