Australia at Under 21 World Cup
Taichung, Chinese Taipei
Round One Game Three: Failure to convert costs Aussies dearly
9 November 2014
NICARAGUA 3 defeated AUSTRALIA 2 (scroll down for images from this game kindly supplied by Helen Holland)
After dropping Game Three 2-3 to Nicaragua today, Australia faces a must-win clash against Venezuela on Monday to secure a second-round berth in the Under 21 World Cup.
While pitchers Lachlan Wells and Sam Holland held sway in a low-scoring contest, the Australian offence passed up a number of scoring opportunities – notably in the third, the sixth and the ninth – while Nicaragua gained a break in the fifth and was never headed.
With the top three teams in each group to progress to the Super Round Robin, a win over Venezuela looms as absolutely vital given the first-round matches that are still to come.
Coming off a confidence-boosting win over the Netherlands, Australia found it tough going early days against Nicaragua, which sat down the first six hitters while itself creating opportunities against teenager Lachlan Wells, who conceded a run in the third.
While the Wells outing over 4.2 innings would have pleased the Australian coaching staff, he was collared by the Nicaraguans in the bottom of five after his side had evened the scoring when Robbie Perkins doubled and Ryan Dale singled to drive him in.
A walk, a double and a run-scoring grounder spelled the end for Wells, who had a third charged against his name when reliever Sam Holland conceded a further hit to make the score 3-1 after five.
Having another terrific game, Zac Shepherd tripled in the eighth and scored on a Guy Edmonds fly ball to get Australia back in the game in a low-scoring encounter.
While the Australian pitching was well up to the task – between them restricting the opposition to seven hits - the offence went missing despite ample runners landing on base. That proved costly in the ninth, with one out and runners on first and second before two outfield fly balls brought a thrilling contest to a disappointing end for the green and gold.
With two hits apiece of their side’s eight, Perkins and Dale were dangerous with the bat along with Shepherd and catcher Guy Edmonds.
Now at one win and two losses, Australia sits third in Group B behind Japan (3-0) and Nicaragua (2-0), with Netherlands and Venezuela both to win a game but with two each still to come.
Australia will meet Venezuela in its fourth Round Robin game on Monday 10 November, starting at 6.30 PM Chinese Taipei time (check your equivalent Australian time zone).