Aussies Bash Way to WBC

South Africa battled, getting a three run homerun from Kyle Botha in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead, but it was a lead they could not hold. Australia took advantage of a weak South Africa bullpen and battered the pitching staff for 11 of their 12 runs in the last four innings for a 12-5 win. A six run sixth was the inning that tore apart any chance of South Africa appearing in the WBC.

Gift Ngoepe got the scoring started early for South Africa in the first inning when he led the game off with a homerun off starter Travis Blackley. During his youth Gift slept and lived in the clubhouse of a South African baseball team while his mother was employed by them to work in the clubhouse. Now he is an integral part of their lineup, a step away from appearing in the major leagues.

Australia came back in the bottom of the first, getting a contribution from veteran Trent Oeltjen, an ex major leaguer coming out of retirement to participate in this game. After the first two hitters were retired by South African starter Kyle Gaddin a hit by pitch to Mitch Dening provided an opening for Australia. A single by Stefan Welch put two runners on for Trent to gap one into right field to score one. South Africa was able to throw out Welch trying to score on the play to end the inning, right fielder Brett Willemburg getting credit for the assist.

Another ex-major leaguer and an ex Bowie Bay Sox hit back to back homeruns for Australia to lead off the fifth. Brad Harmon, who played briefly for the Phillies and Alan de san Miguel led off the inning with back to back homeruns off South African pitcher Carl Michaels, who had come on in relief for Kyle Gaddin in the third. Those two blasts had given Australia a 3-1 lead.

Travis Blackley had been cruising after giving up his first inning homerun. In the sixth he got into a little bit of trouble with the Phillips brothers causing most of the damage. With one out Anthony Phillips singled and Jonathan Phillips followed with a double, advancing his brother to third. Kyle Botha stopped the hearts of many Australian fans when he launched a pitch from Blackley over the left field fence for a three run homerun to give South Africa a 4-3 lead.

That lead was brief with Australia coming back in the bottom half of the sixth. Trent Oeltjen got things started with a one out double. A walk to another ex-major leaguer Luke Hughes set the table for Trent D’Antonio who lined a double to centerfield to score Oeltjen. South Africa replaced Carl Michaels with Callan Pearce and he was able to get the last two outs without allowing the runner on third from scoring, Harman hitting a fly ball to right fielder Brett Willemburg not deep enough to score Hughes. Willemburg had already thrown one Aussie out at the plate. Allan de san Miguel grounded out to leave the game tied at 4-4.

James Beresford led off the seventh inning with a single. After being bunted to second Mitch Dening drove him in with a single to give Australia the lead again 5-4. Dening stole second and was advanced to third on a single by Stefan Welch. Trent Oeltjen drove in the second run of the inning with a single but was gunned down trying to advance to second, right fielder Brett Willemburg getting credit for his second assist of the game.

The eighth inning was the back breaker for South Africa. The Phillips brothers did their job getting on base to start the inning, Anthony singling and Jonathan getting on base by coaxing a walk. A Kyle Botha ground out advance the runners to second and third where Anthony scored on a ground out by Brett Willemburg. Keegan Swanepoel had an opportunity to tie the game but Ryan Searle struck him out to end the inning, leaving Australia with a 6-5 lead.

They blew the game wide open with six runs in the bottom of the eighth, a bunt and a throwing error by third baseman Jonathan Phillips allowing the first two runs to score. At one point in the inning South African pitchers walked three straight hitters to force in one run. Trent D’Antonio singled in the last two runs after the three walks to finish off the scoring and give the Aussies an insurmountable 12-5 lead.

South Africa had battled but they were toast after the eighth inning. Ryan Searle retired the side in order in the ninth returning the Aussies to the WBC. The Aussies finished the game with 17 hits, seven of their players finishing the game with multiple hits. The veteran Trent Oeltjen was the ring leader with three hits. Trent D’Antonio led the team in RBIs with three. Mitch Dening led the team in runs scored with three. Peter Moylan and Ryan Searle followed Travis Blackley with 3.1 innings of relief. Moylan got credit for the win while Searle earned his second save.

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