By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
Chavez Young was back in the lineup for the Canberra Cavalry and had his most productive series of the season to help his team clinch a playoff berth in the Australian Baseball League.
The Cavalry concluded the regular season with a 2-2 split in a four-game series against the Brisbane Bandits to conclude the regular season at 11-14.
After a 4-0 win in the regular season finale on Sunday, Canberra earned the right to host the Sydney Blue Blue Sox in the 2021 ABL Wild Card Game, February 9.
Young led off with a single and stole second and then third as part of a double steal.
An error on the double steal allowed Young to come home and make it 1-0 and the Cavalry never relinquished the lead. Young opened the series 1-4 in a 12-5 loss and went 0-4 the following night in a 4-3 loss. He finished 2-5 in a thrilling 12-11 win in the penultimate game of the season to clinch the playoff berth. Young went 2-5 with one run and one RBI.
Limited by quarantine restrictions and a foot injury, Young appeared in just seven games for the Cavalry. He hit .217 with a .467 OPS, five hits, two runs, one RBI, five total bases and two stolen bases.
The winner of the Wild Card Game, which will be hosted by the fourth seed, will join the top three teams after the regular season in a double elimination bracket from February 12-14. They will face the Melbourne Aces in Semifinal One. The loser will be relegated to the Elimination Final.
A single Championship Game is scheduled for February 14.
According to the ABL, the double elimination bracket games, including the Championship Game, will be played in one location. “A centralised location will help mitigate the risk of COVID-19 and border closures,” Baseball Australia chief executive Cam Vale said.
“Expanding the playoffs and revising the format in a shortened season is not only fairer given the imbalance in the regular-season schedule but aligns closer to major international tournaments. It is bold and different but a crazy season such as this one is the perfect time to adapt to the circumstances.”
After several delays to the start of the ABL season, Young finally had an opportunity to make his debut, but suffered an injury in his first at bat of the season. Young got a hit in in his debut in the season opener against the Melbourne Aces, but was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. Following the play, he displayed some signs of discomfort and was substituted out of the game and was seen in an air cast the following day.
While he was sidelined, Young has become a fan favourite with the Canberra fanbase with his work as a commentator with the Cavalry’s announcing team. Several videos of Young’s work in the commentary box have gone viral on social media for his colourful antics and use of Bahamian vernacular.
Young is currently ranked no. 30 on the Toronto Blue Jays’ prospect list, and joined a Cavalry club that has advanced to one championship series and three semifinal appearances in the last four seasons.
The ABL is one of baseball’s recognised winter leagues where minor league prospects are assigned as an English-speaking alternative to the primary Spanish-speaking Latin America-based winter leagues.
Young was called up to Spring Training prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and in his short time there, impressed the Blue Jays’ front office in the Grapefruit League both on the field and to move up the rankings on the prospect list. It was his second consecutive offseason spent with the main roster in spring training.