Australia at Under 21 World Cup
Taichung, Chinese Taipei
Round One Game Two: Aussies break out to dominate Netherlands
8 November 2014
AUSTRALIA 10 defeated NETHERLANDS 1
After a scoreless first four innings, the Australian offence came alive to put up a game-breaking five spot in the fifth that set the base for a thumping win behind superb pitching in Taichung this afternoon.
Shaking off its tough first-round loss to Japan, Australia played some grand defence behind starter Sam Gibbons to strand a number of Netherlands runners on base before taking full toll of passes and errant pitching to plate five in the top of five.
While the Netherlands replied with a run of their own in the bottom of the frame, Australia was not about to let this game slip, driving in insurance runs in the eighth and ninth.
All up, the Netherlands stranded six on base through the first four innings as the Aussies played tight defence, while Australia had a scoring opportunity in the second – when Guy Edmonds was hosed at the plate trying to score on a Robbie Perkins hit.
Australia made its charge in the top of five, when passes to Ryan Dale and Adam Silva were fully exploited by an offence that saw Aaron Sayers drive in two on a base hit, followed by a Jacob Younis hit, a Ben Lodge sacrifice fly, a run-scoring Zac Shepherd triple and a throwing error that enabled the third-sacker to scamper home.
Holding what appeared to be a comfortable break, Australia pressed home its advantage by blasting another three in the eighth and a couple in the ninth, with Adam Silva and Ben Leslie doing the bulk of the late scoring damage.
Unlike the Japan game – which saw seventeen of our hitters strike out – Australia made far better contact throughout the order, placing pressure on the Netherlands pitching and defence in an already tense championship environment.
Rebounding from a less than memorable Game One with the bat, Aaron Sayers hit safely twice for a couple of his team’s RBIs, while Jacob Younis (two and one) and Ben Leslie (two and one) were productive in the emphatic win.
"We swung the bats well yesterday and were able to carry it over into today," Hitting Coach Glenn Williams observed after the game. "Ben Leslie impressed me and Sayers bounced back well after a tough day yesterday. Adam Silva also had some good at bats."
With a couple of booming doubles, Leslie was understandably happy with his outing.
"The pitching today was a little more traditional than we faced against Japan," the young man observed. "I'm feeling more comfortable getting some more at bats and I'm getting into counts where I feel I can get a pitch to drive."
Making his national team debut, Geelong native and Twins tyro Gibbons spun three innings for one hit, while Josh Guyer (three innings for two hits, with three strikeouts), Jon Kennedy (two innings) and Josh Silvi (striking out the side in the last) were outstanding on the hill for Australia, between them conceding just four hits and a minimum of free passes in a crushing win that will give the Aussies great heart leading into their Sunday clash with Nicaragua prior to a match-up with Venezuela on Monday.
Australian Pitching Coach Luke Prokopec was generous in his praise of the Australian pitching staff.
"Our pitchers threw the ball well," Prokopec said. "They kept their composure regardless of the small strike zone and they threw a lot of first-pitch strikes to get early outs. Gibbons threw the ball with good velocity and control. He told me he was a bit nervous, but he battled well and felt he was able to make pitches when we needed them for outs."
"Guyer really attacked the zone."
"I was impressed with the way the staff bounced back after yesterday's tough loss," he said.
Three wins from the four Round Robin games will certainly see Australia advance to the next round. While two may still be enough, we can be sure that Tony Harris, his staff and his players will be going all-out to win every game from this point.
Australia will meet Nicaragua in its third Round Robin game on Sunday 9 November, starting at 12.30 PM Chinese Taipei time (check your equivalent Australian time zone). Talented seventeen-year old starter Lachlan Wells - the youngest member of the Australian squad - is expected to get the call.
Image: Helen Holland