Under 18 World Cup: Super Round and Finals
Aussies shine in extra-innings thriller over Cuba
3 September 2015
Exploding to an early lead against Cuba, Australia was challenged mid-game before showing great skill – and more than a touch of character – to come up big when it mattered and score a thrilling 7-4 win in the first of its three Super League games.
Arguably not at his dominant best on a day of World Cup competition disrupted by rain, Australian starter Lachlan Wells led his team to an outstanding win – though only after a sensational closing stint by Mitch Neunborn, who stepped up brilliantly under massive pressure.
Although the win was clear cause for celebration among the Australian baseball fraternity, no such luxury for our boys – for now – as they prepare for their game against Canada on Friday.
SUPER ROUND GAME ONE: AUSTRALIA 7 defeated CUBA 4
Australia was off to a flyer against the highly-ranked Cuban outfit, blasting three in the top of the first after lead-off Nate Vankan doubled to the leftfield wall and his teammates showed great pitch selection as Cuban starter Guillen struggled for control.
On song early, Aussie ace Lachlan Wells breezed through the equaliser before struggling momentarily in the second when a walk, a run-scoring double and a wild pitch plated two for Cuba.
Both sides stranded runners on base in the third as Wells settled more comfortably into his work.
Jess Williams singled to lead off the fourth, stole second, advanced on a balk and scored on a Ryan Kift grounder to the right side for a two-run break that one sensed was never going to be enough against a quality Cuban outfit.
Relieving Wells after four solid innings that included seven strikeouts for the two earned runs, Jye Deeble conceded a first-up triple – and a subsequent run – but was able to escape the innings with no further damage.
The Cubans tied it up in the sixth – on a hit, a bunt, a wild pitch and an RBI-single – drawing right armer Mitch Neunborn from the pen to mop up with runners at first and second.
Displaying great poise and pinpoint control, Neunborn tossed quality innings in the seventh and eighth before a defensive slip-up in the ninth that allowed Cuba to load the bases before the Western Australia produced the big pitches – in a pressure cooker situation – to induce a groundout and force the game into a tie-breaker.
Starting with runners at first and second under the tie-breaker rule, the Aussies loaded the bases on a walk and Mitch Holding delivered with a two-run single into rightfield – followed by another run walked across the plate before Neunborn slammed the gate in emphatic fashion.
While Vankan (three hits), Frew (two), Holding (a hit and two RBIs) and Tristan King (two ribbies) were terrific with the bat for Australia, we tip our hats to Cuban pitcher Pablo Guillen for going nine innings after a shaky start to what was a great game - and an outstanding win for our team.
Mitch Holding speaks to us Mitch Neunborn talks about the game
Australian Head Coach Steve Fish Australian Assistant Coach Damian Shanahan
Australia will meet Canada in Game Two of the Super Round on Friday 4 September, starting at 1.00 PM AEST. Our third Super Round Game will be against South Korea on Saturday 5 September, starting at 1.00 PM AEST. Medals games between the top four teams will be played on Sunday 6 September.
SUPER ROUND SCHEDULE:
GAME ONE: AUSTRALIA 7 defeated CUBA 4
GAME TWO: CANADA 10 defeated AUSTRALIA 3
GAME THREE: SOUTH KOREA 3 defeated AUSTRALIA 0
Supporting Australian Baseball
Aussie loss to Korea threatened to dash medals hope
5 September 2015
Australia’s Under 18 World Cup campaign appeared to come to an end with a gallant 0-3 loss to South Korea, one of the favoured nations coming into the tournament.
Believing that they needed a win to make the bronze medal final, Australia gave this game their best shot but were unable to recover from a three-run fourth – the only scoring innings by either side.
With one memorable win from three Super Round games, the Aussies have qualified under tiebreaker rules at the eleventh hour for a bronze medal return showdown with South Korea – an outstanding achievement for a quality group of youngsters who have played just a percentage of the games by other competing nations at this level.
SUPER ROUND GAME THREE: SOUTH KOREA 3 defeated AUSTRALIA 0
Starting southpaw Jye Deeble, Australia quelled a first-innings challenge and themselves generated early offence that came to nought when Korea turned an infield double in the second.
Keeping the Korean hitters of balance with his off-speed offerings, Deeble breezed through the second and third – striking out five – before back to back doubles and a booming home run by Hwang Sundo made it three zip to Korea after four.
Relieving Deeble in the fifth, Jess Williams was terrific in holding the Koreans scoreless over four although his side was unable to convert a serious scoring chance when James McCallum hit safely and Dean Frew reached first on a fielder’s choice in the sixth.
Continuing to play solid and at times brilliant defence led by George Callil at shortstop, Australia kept Korea at bay and had a further scoring opportunity when Mitch Holding doubled with one out in the eighth and the heart of the order to follow.
James McCallum wore a pitch to force a change on the hill for Korea and Frew hit safely to load the bases before the dangerous Tristan King flied to short rightfield and Josh Rawlinson grounded out to end what was shaping as a promising innings.
With two hits, Holding was best of the Australian offence – which out-hit Korea eight to six but was not able to rival the long-ball capacity that proved decisive in one defining innings.
With Japan (5-0), United States (4-1) and South Korea (3-2) qualifying clearly for the playoff games, Australia (1-2), Canada (1-2) and Cuba (1-2) were all vying for fourth spot. While Aussie management believed that our loss to Canada might have placed us out of contention, a complex application of runs scored and defensive outs made handed Australia fourth placing and a berth in the bronze medal final starting at 11.00 AEST on Sunday 6 September.
Despite a couple of disappointing results, making the bronze medal game in a tournament of this magnitude was a wonderful result for a squad that acquitted itself exceptionally well and continued to earn Australian baseball the respect and admiration of powerhouse baseball nations. Well done, all, and best wishes against South Korea on Sunday.
Supporting Australian Baseball
Aussies falter as Canada offence finds form
4 September 2015
Just hours after the euphoria of an outstanding World Cup win over Cuba, Australia was brought unceremoniously back to earth against a Canadian outfit that performed far better – on the day – in all aspects of the game.
While the contest remained tight through the first four, the Australian offence was uncharacteristically subdued as Canada forged ahead with two in the fifth and two in the sixth before putting up a game-breaking five spot in the seventh.
With a Super Round game still to come against South Korea, Australia remains an outside chance of making the bronze medal play-off, although it would need to win and other results would need to fall our way.
SUPER ROUND GAME TWO: CANADA 10 defeated AUSTRALIA 3
Starting for Australia, Alex Wells sat down the first three hitters he saw – including emerging superstar Josh Naylor- before conceding a run in the second on a double and a two-out single.
Canada threatened with two hits in the third while Australia struggled to land runners on base against Canadian starter Josh Burgmann, whose side lost a runner at the plate and came up empty again in the fourth.
Successive hits to Ryan Kift, Mitch Holding and James McCallum loaded the bases with none out in the equaliser before Dean Frew hit into a double play as Kift crossed the plate to level scores – albeit briefly before Canadian leftfielder Tristan Pompey blasted a two-run scoring triple in the fifth.
An infield error proved helpful to Australia, which scored its second on a Nate Vankan sacrifice fly.
Relieving Wells after a solid five innings of work, Rhys Steedman walked the first two hitters he faced and recovered to retire the next two before a two-run double into leftfield stretched the lead to 5-2 in favour of Canada.
Two more in the seventh made it even tougher for the Aussies, who called on Jack Enciondo to put out the fire but conceded a ninth and a tenth unearned after an infield error and a damaging triple.
Though it was too little too late, the Aussie offence finally came to life in the bottom of eight, when singles to James Percival, Vankan and Kift forced a third run across the plate to spell the end for Burgmann, who had done a superb job with the win for Canada.
Australian Assistant Coach Glenn Williams spoke to us after the game.......
Although its chances of making the bronze medal play-off appear slim, the Australian players have done an outstanding job to finish among the top six nations and they will certainly enter the South Korean game with confidence and their heads collectively held high.
Australia will meet South Korea in Game Three of the Super Round on Saturday 5 September, starting at 1.00 PM AEST. Medals games between the top four teams will be played on Sunday 6 September.
Supporting Australian Baseball
Australia falls just short of World Cup bronze
6 September 2015
Earning a last-minute berth in the Bronze Medal playoff by virtue of Super Round losses by Canada and Cuba, Australia would be ruing a few missed offensive opportunities in a genuinely gutsy 5-8 loss to South Korea in Osaka this afternoon.
Scoreless in fourteen previous innings played against the Koreans in under twenty-four hours, the Aussies recovered from a four zip deficit to draw level in the eighth with the Koreans, who responded under pressure to take the medal after what had been a mighty contest.
Finishing fourth overall at the World Cup was a mammoth effort for the Australian squad, who will surely have lasting memories of a terrific tournament at which they represented their country with great distinction and more than their fair share of playing success against quality opponents. FOOTNOTE: Congratulations to UNITED STATES, which downed JAPAN 2-1 to take the Gold Medal in a thriller.
BRONZE MEDAL GAME: SOUTH KOREA 8 defeated AUSTRALIA 5
Apart from conceding a two-out double in the first, Australian starter Josh Hendrickson was on song early, while Dean Frew was stranded after his lead-off single in the second.
Australia went down in order in the third and Korea opened the scoring when a walk, a single and a double forced two runs across the plate before Hendrickson retired danger men Im and Hwang to escape the innings.
Mitch Holding singled to lead off the fourth and advanced no further after a lengthy rain delay, while Australia continued to play solid defence to keep the Koreans at bay despite passing up another opportunity in the top of five when Jess Williams and Nate Vankan were stranded at the corners after both hit safely.
A two out hit and a walk spelled the end for Hendrickson – who had scattered five hits and whiffed five in a solid start - although reliever Lachlan MacDonald struggled early, with a base hit driving in another run for Korea.
Rapidly exhausting their supply of World Cup innings, the Aussies made their move in the top of six, when Holding drew a walk, James McCallum singled and Frew stroked his second hit to load the bases with none out.
When King went down swinging and Rawlinson hit a shallow fly to rightfield it was looking rocky for Australia – although shortstop and eight hitter George Calli had other ideas, swatting a three-run triple into centrefield and drawing his side to within a run while forcing a Korean pitching change.
Replacing MacDonald, iceman Mitch Neunborn stranded a runner to help his side out of the equaliser and the Aussies again applied the blowtorch in the seventh when Vankan walked and advanced on a Ryan Kift bunt before being picked off at second – for the third out – with form hitter Frew still at the plate.
Frew walked in the top of eight, advanced on a Neunborn sacrifice, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a balk to tie the score – albeit ever too briefly, as the Koreans landed runners on base in the bottom of the frame, played some effective short ball and exploited a couple of defensive errors to take a four-run lead into the last.
Down to his team’s last two outs, Vankan reached second on an error, advanced on a balk and scored on a Kift grounder before Korea wrapped up the game with a strike out.
Fourth placing on the world baseball stage was a fantastic outcome for the Australian team, which should be enormously proud of its efforts in working so hard in preparation for this tournament and competing so whole-heartedly against powerful baseball nations. Well done to all!
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