IN PROGRESS: Under 18 World Cup
26 August 2015
A twenty-player squad managed by some of Australia’s very best baseball people will confront an array of stunning international talent when the Under 18 World Cup gets under way in Osaka Japan on Friday 28 August.
Most of the Australian players come off a three-week stint at the MLBAAP in Surfers Paradise, including a very promising eight-game series in which they dominated with seven wins against Canada - a Premier 12 qualified nation in the top ten IBAF world rankings.
Drawn in Group A for an initial Round Robin series before the tournament moves to its next phase, Australia will face Mexico on Friday before subsequent games against Brazil, Japan, United States and Czech Republic.
Twelve nations will contest the World Cup. While Australia faces a tough draw – especially against the likes of Japan and United States – Group B appears an equally strong listing that comprises Cuba, Chinese Taipei, Canada, South Korea, Italy and South Africa.
The top three teams in each group after the Round Robin will proceed to a Super Round Robin, while the others will play off for final placings.
While we should not read too much into the friendlies against Canada played on the Gold Coast recently, winning form is always good form and the Australian side will enter the series confident of their prospects of making the Super Round Robin and along the way earning valuable IBAF world baseball ranking points.
Australian Baseball Alumni members and supporters extend their heartiest congratulations and best wishes to the Australian Under 18 World Cup squad (listed below).
The team will be under management of Steve Fish (Head Coach), Graeme Lloyd (Pitching Coach), Glenn Williams (Assistant Coach), Damian Shanahan (Assistant Coach) and Neil Barrowcliff (Executive Officer).
Australian Baseball Alumni will be aiming to complement Baseball Australia coverage of the event with our own match reports, images and interviews. In following our website reporting and FACEBOOK dialogue, please feel free to contact us with any relevant news, images or updates that you believe will be of assistance.
AUSTRALIAN UNDER 18 WORLD CUP SQUAD
Max BARRETT (Victoria)
George CALLIL (Victoria)
Jye DEEBLE (Queensland)
Jack ENCIONDO (Victoria)
Dean FREW (New South Wales)
Josh HENDRICKSON (Western Australia)
Mitch HOLDING (Victoria)
Ryan KIFT (Western Australia)
Tristan KING (Western Australia)
Lachlan MacDONALD (Queensland)
James McCALLUM (New South Wales)
Mitch NEUNBORN (Western Australia)
James PERCIVAL (New South Wales)
Josh RAWLINSON (Western Australia)
Rhys STEEDMAN (Western Australia)
Ben TSUI (New South Wales)
Nate VANKAN (Queensland)
Alex WELLS (New South Wales)
Lachlan WELLS (New South Wales)
Jess WILLIAMS (Western Australia)
Aussies crush Mexico in World Cup opener
28 August 2015
A well-prepared Australian squad has made the perfect start to its campaign with a comprehensive 10-0 whitewash of Mexico at the Under 18 World Cup that started in Osaka this morning.
Currently rated marginally above Australia in IBAF world rankings, Mexico had no answer to a dominant outing by Australian starter Lachlan Wells, who received terrific support from an imperious offence that out-slugged its opponent eleven hits to six.
GAME ONE: AUSTRALIA 10 defeated MEXICO 0
Australian starter Lachlan Wells had the ball on a string from the outset, allowing just two hits and a walk through the early innings as his side played stellar defence in support of the southpaw.
Applying offensive pressure to the Mexicans, Australia took the early running - in the top of the second - when James McCallum doubled, Dean Frew singled and George Callil tripled off the rightfield wall to drive in both with two out.
The Aussies were on the march again in the fourth, when Mitch Neunborn doubled into leftfield, Callil walked, Ben Tsui singled and Ryan Kift looped a chinker into rightfield to double the lead and chase Mexican starter Corrales from the hill.
McCallum drew a walk in the top of five and scooted to third on a Frew double before catcher Tristan King slapped an RBI single up the middle as the game began to unravel for the Mexico defence, which suffered further pain when Nate Vankan singled for another couple to give his side a massive eight-zip lead.
Throwing errors scored two more to raise the spectre of a mercy-rule call.
Relieving Wells after a terrific start that yielded just the two hits and seven strike outs over five innings, setup man Rhys Steedman loaded the bases but escaped any damage with a timely strike out and fly ball before Jess Williams closed out the game.
It was an emphatic first-up performance by the Australia side, which will meet Brazil on Saturday 29 August, starting at 4.30 PM (AEST). Selected games are being streamed live and are accessible also on GameTracker (see the IBAF links below).
On a side note, Australian umpire Trent Thomas earned the honour of delivering the officials oath at the Opening Ceremony. Congratulations.
Winning pitcher Lachlan Wells speaking after the game Head Coach Steve Fish comments
VIDEO (below): A snippet of Game One preliminaries (supplied by Brett Ward)
Australia overpowers Brazil in Game Two
29 August 2015
Australia has continued its dominant World Cup form with an imperious offensive display against Brazil in Game Two.
Although the Brazilians matched their opponent with a run in the first – and looked a real chance of doing even more damage before a couple of runners were left high and dry – the Aussies blew the game open with a four spot in the fourth, compliments principally of a three-run bomb by Designated Hitter Tristan King, who had a day to remember. Hear Tristan and Pitching Coach Graeme Lloyd interviewed (below).
GAME TWO: AUSTRALIA 11 defeated BRAZIL 1
With Alex Wells tossing a superb six innings of work for six hits and a solitary earned run counterbalanced by nine strikeouts, the Australians did further offensive damage with two in the fifth and a second three-run King homer in the seventh - a monster - to put the game well beyond reach of the Brazilian side.
Relieving Wells, Lachlan MacDonald pitched two innings of set-up before Jack Enciondo closed out the game with aplomb for Australia, whose management would be delighted with an errorless defensive game and the bellicose hitting led by King (two home runs and six RBIs), Josh Rawlinson (three and one), James McCallum (two and two) and Nate Vankan (two hits).
While the Australian form has been first-class, and seems to clearly reflect upon thorough team preparation over the past four weeks, our boys face a couple of challenging contests in the days to come, starting with a match-up against Japan – currently world ranked number one – on Sunday 30 August, with first pitch at 6.30 PM (AEST).
Selected games are being streamed live and are accessible also on GameTracker (see the IBAF links below).
Tristan King speaks to Brett Ward post-game Australian pitching Coach Graeme Lloyd
Australia falters against tournament favourite
30 August 2015
After stunning wins over Mexico and Brazil, Australia found it tough going against home nation Japan, which boasted a wealth of serious baseball talent buoyed by an army of local supporters.
While the game was super-tight through five innings, Japan posted a four-spot in the sixth and ran out a 10-1 winner against an Aussie team that stuck to its guns against a quality opponent that showed great pitch selection and took full toll of its scoring opportunities.
With a two and one record, Australia will need a win in one of its two remaining Round Robin matches – against United States and Czech Republic - to qualify for the World Cup Super Round that will start on Thursday.
GAME THREE: JAPAN 10 defeated AUSTRALIA 1
Starter Max Barrett retired the first three Japanese hitters in order and Australia looked dangerous early as Ryan Kift and Mitch Holding stroked back-to-back hits in the first before Japan turned an infield double play.
A lead-off walk proved damaging in the second and Japan was on the board after a single and two more passes gifted an early score for the home country.
Both Barrett and Japanese starter Ogasawara settled into some quality work, with the big Victorian snuffing out a challenge in the top of the fourth before Mitch Holding and Dean Frew drew passes in the equaliser but were left stranded when a dangerous Tristan King went down swinging.
Relieving Barrett, who had conceded just one hit over five, Josh Hendrickson landed in early strife by walking the lead-off and loading the bases on a fielders choice and a second free pass, drawing Western Australian compatriot Josh Rawlinson from the pen in a tricky situation.
Back to back passes forced another two across the plate for Japan as the Aussies found themselves under their first real pressure in this tournament - against a world-class opponent at all baseball levels – before a two-run single into rightfield made it five zip for the home side after the top half of six.
Not about to lie down, Australia landed runners on base in the equaliser and a James McCallum grounder scored for Australia, although Japan responded decisively with five more as the floodgates were opened in the top of the ninth.
Pitching Coach Graeme Lloyd after Game Three Starting pitcher Max Barrett after Game Three
While the final margin was clear-cut, Australia would have felt that they were right in this contest –even after the sixth – and they will rightly view the ninth innings blowout as an aberration that happens at times in this great game of ours.
Australia faces another serious challenge when it meets United States on Monday 31 August, starting at 4.30 PM AEST. A win against either United States or Czech Republic on Tuesday will qualify Australia for the Super Round to commence on Thursday.
Selected games are being streamed live and are accessible also on GameTracker (see the IBAF links below).
Rugged day out against relentless United States
31 August 2015
Australia’s record at the Under 18 World Cup stands at two and two after our second substantial loss in twenty-four hours – this time at the hands of second-ranked United States.
The Aussie boys never recovered from a poor start that delivered the Americans a three run lead after the third – one that they steadily built upon through the middle innings to force a mercy rule call after eight.
While it was a disappointing showing against a baseball superpower, Australia is still very well-placed to make the Super Round when it meets lowly Czech Republic for the last of its first-round games on Tuesday.
GAME FOUR: UNITED STATES 11 defeated AUSTRALIA 1
Showing early intent against Australian starter Jye Deeble, the Americans loaded the bases in the second – compliments of a double, a walk and two-out safety bunt – and scored the opening run on a single into rightfield before a pop-up ended the innings.
Forcing a pair of defensive errors with none out, Australia had its chances to reply in the bottom of the frame but was unable to convert against United States, which loaded the bases as Deeble struggled for control in the third and Mitch Neunborn was summoned from the pen in an awkward situation.
A walk and a hit plated two more for the Americans, although Neunborn did a great job in leaving the bases juiced by retiring three hitters in a row when the game threatened to turn ugly.
Dominant with a complete game outing – and batting for himself - United States starter Nicholas Pratto came under fire in the fourth, when Mitch Holding walked, advanced on a Tristan King hit and scored when Jess Williams singled into rightfield.
Three doubles in the top of five gleaned another two runs and a clear buffer for the Americans, while Australia went to Lachlan MacDonald with runners on first and second in the sixth.
Driving another four across the plate – on a HPB, a single and a sacrifice fly - United States continued to flex its offensive muscle by tacking on runs in the seventh and the eighth to force an early finish to the game.
Playing solid defence while the Americans slipped up four times, Australia conceded a damaging twelve passes to two and could manage just two hits to their opponent’s twelve – hardly the recipe for a tight contest against a powerhouse baseball nation ranked second in the world entering this tournament.
Tomorrow is another day – another ball game - and Australia’s 2-2 record in the first round places it very well to challenge for a Super Round berth if it can post a win against an opponent that is not in the same league as the outstanding Japan and United States outfits that were always going to be yardsticks of this World Cup.
Australia’s last game of the First Round will be against winless Czech Republic on Tuesday 1 September, starting at 11.00 AM AEST. Selected games are being streamed live and are accessible also on GameTracker (see the IBAF links below).
Australia thumps Czechs to qualify for Super Round
1 September 2015
Scoring in six of the eight innings played, Australia has run out a comfortable 10-0 winner over Czech Republic to nail down third placing in Group A of the Under 18 World Cup.
The strong win was a confidence-boosting response from the Australian squad after dropping games to Japan and United States – both of whom have also made the the top six nations for the next round.
Wednesday will be a rest day before Australia faces Cuba - the second-placed side from Group B - on Thursday, starting at 4.30 AEST. This will be followed by games against Canada and South Korea on Friday and Saturday respectively (both 1.00 PM start AEST)
GAME FIVE: AUSTRALIA 10 defeated CZECH REPUBLIC 0
Needing a win to secure a spot in the Super Round, Australia was challenged in the first – when Czech Republic landed two runners on base – but starter Rhys Steedman was able to escape the innings with no damage done.
Team offence offered early support in the second, when Dean Frew and Tristan King hit safely to set the table for run scoring singles by Ben Tsui, Nate Vankan and Ryan Kift that delivered the Aussies a handy lead that was stretched to four – after a Czech pitching change - on a George Callil single in the third.
Back-to-back doubles by Vankan and Kift scored another in the fourth, followed by two more in the fifth on an error and a Jess Williams single.
With Steedman in commanding form on the hill, Australia scored its eighth on a Frew double in the sixth and the game appeared poised for an early finish when the Aussies blasted another two in the top of the eighth.
Scattering six hits over six quality innings for Australia, Steedman (two walks, three strikeouts) handed the pill to Josh Hendrickson for a scoreless innings before Jack Enciondo closed out the game.
In a strong offensive showing, Australia had nine players registering hits, with the standouts being Frew (three hits and an RBI), Kift (two and two), Vankan (two and one) and Williams (two and one).
Finishing third in Group A to qualify for the Super Round, Australia will meet Cuba - the second-placed side from Group B - on Thursday, starting at 4.30 PM AEST. This will be followed by games against Canada and South Korea (Friday and Saturday, both at 1.30 AEST).