Australia Rides Good Pitching to Finals

Good teams are defined by the quality of their pitching staff. When compared to the three other teams competing in the Australia World Baseball Classic qualifier Australia has the superior pitching. That was again on display with four pitchers limiting South Africa to one run on six hits in their 4-1 win to get them to the finals.

Warwick Saupold got the start and worked the first three innings. He gave up the lone run to South Africa in the third inning after a Kyle Botha RBI single. Ryan Rowland Smith followed him with three shutout innings of two hit ball. Todd Van Steensel was called on for two shutout innings and Ryan Searle struck out three of the four hitters he faced in the ninth.

Australia erupted for three runs in the opening frame off South African starter Carl Michaels. James Beresford and Logan Wade started the game with back to back double with Stefan Welch following with an RBI single. Fans were still not settled in their seats and Australia was already up 2-0. A sacrifice fly by Trent Oeltjen upped the lead to 3-0.

What looked to be a rout after the first inning settled into a pitcher’s duel. Australia would not score their next run until the sixth inning after a wild pitch moved runners to second and third and David Kandilas scored on a James Beresford ground out.

The earlier match showed New Zealand pound the Philippines 17-7 in a game that lacked good pitching. The Philippines had actually taken a 7-4 lead with three runs in the top of the sixth. New Zealand hammered the Philippine bullpen with six in the bottom half of the sixth, another five in the seventh and two more in the eighth to end the game as a result of the slaughter rule.

Ex-Red Sox prospect Boss Moanaroa drove in seven runs with his four hits. His RBI onslaught started with an RBI double in the fifth, it went into overdrive with a 3-run homer in the sixth and was completed after a two run single in the seventh. If Boss was a little faster with the feet he could have extended one of his two doubles for a triple to hit for the cycle.

Eric Farris collected four hits for the Philippines from the leadoff spot and Brady Conlan bashed a two run homer in the fourth to tie the game at 3-3 but the production went for naught for lack of a bullpen. The Philippine hurlers did not help their cause by walking 10 batters. By contrast New Zealand issued only one walk.

The Philippines now go back home while New Zealand does battle with South Africa to see who will attempt to knock Australia from the top of the hill.

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