If the Canberra Cavalry are to play in their second Championship series in a row, they will have to do it the hard and long way.
The Cavalry will travel to Melbourne to face the Aces in the ABL’s inaugural wildcard sudden-death game on Wednesday night (23 January) with a spot in the semi-finals on the line. If the Cavs walk away with a win, they will make the dreaded trip to Brisbane to face the defending champs in a semi-final series two days later.
If they lose, its curtains for their 2018-19 season.
The Cavs, who finished in the third spot in the north-east division, finished the regular season with a 23-17 record, the same as their wildcard opponents, despite going on a 17-7 run to end their season.
The Cavs’ shocking start to the season ultimately came back to haunt them, with their season set to be defined by one wildcard game.
“It is a weird scenario for us because we have made the playoffs but we haven’t really made the playoffs,” Cavs manager Keith Ward said.
One more day… then it’s all on the line. #WildCardWednesday
Posted by Canberra Cavalry on Monday, 21 January 2019
“Playing in the wildcard game is probably not a fair reflection on how well we have played particularly in the last six weeks. If you look at our win-loss record for the past month we have been the best team in the competition and I think we are as good as anybody, if not better.
“But if we think we are good enough to have finished higher on the ladder, this wildcard game should be a blip on the radar for us and we should be good enough to get past Melbourne. We just need to be good enough on the day.”
Cavs are heading back to where they played their worst series this season, the season opener which saw them being swept with surprising ease by the Aces in a 4-0 match. But it has been a long 10 weeks since that result, with Ward keen to erase the memory of that weekend.
“We are confident against Melbourne. We know they are a good team and they have great pitchers,” he said. “I feel like offensively we are a lot better than we were at the start of the season and I think we have one of the hottest offences in the league right now.
“It is going to be a close contest and it will most likely come down to one inning, one pitch or one play that will decide this game.”
ABL Playoff Game
Canberra Cavalry @ Melbourne Aces
Melbourne Ballpark, Altona, VIC
Wednesday, 23 January at 7:30 pm AEDT
Game telecasted at the MIT Ballpark clubhouse