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Promising pitcher Daniel Chapman hurls Ramblers to a ninth New Zealand club softball title

March 11, 2018

Lower Hutt, NZ - - Promising pitcher Daniel Chapman hurls Ramblers to a ninth New Zealand club softball title



Dave Mackay / Phototek.nz

Ramblers player-coach Nathan Nukunuku has won his seventh national interclub title (file photo).

ORIGINAL STORY by Tony Smith

Black Sox captain Nathan Nukunuku hailed Ramblers' rising young pitching star Daniel Chapman after the Auckland club clinched a ninth national men's interclub softball title.

Chapman was voted most valuable player as the unbeaten Mt Albert Ramblers edged first-time finalists Papanui from Christchurch in Sunday's final at Lower Hutt.

Ramblers came from behind to win 2-1 with designated runner Blake Wardrope scampering home on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Daniel Chapman, 20, underlined his potential as one of New Zealand's top pitching prospects by throwing Ramblers to the ...
David Joseph / Phototek.nz

Daniel Chapman, 20, underlined his potential as one of New Zealand's top pitching prospects by throwing Ramblers to the 2018 national club championship.

 

Chapman, 20, showed great resolve to recover from giving up an automatic home run to Papanui Tigers third baseman Anthony Stuart in the top of the third inning.

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He kept his composure to concede just one more safe hit, a fifth inning single to Stuart - the only Papanui batter to taste success against the former Junior Black Sox hurler.

Ben Watts had one of his best tournaments on the mound as the Papanui Tigers qualified for their first national ...
Phillip Rollo

Ben Watts had one of his best tournaments on the mound as the Papanui Tigers qualified for their first national interclub grand final (file photo).

 

Nukunuku, Ramblers' player-coach, said Chapman, who snared 11 strikeouts in the final, was "a deserved MVP".

"In the last three games, he had a no-hitter against PK [Poneke Kilbirnie], a no-hitter against Papanui and then a two-hitter in the final," Nukunuku said.

"He's grown as the year's gone on. The NFC [National Fastpitch Championship representative tournament] was a great experience for him, he learned some lessons there.

Cole Evans played a big part in Ramblers' ninth national interclub softball title success (file photo).
Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.nz

Cole Evans played a big part in Ramblers' ninth national interclub softball title success (file photo).

 

"He was on fire for us this week."

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Chapman twice shut out Papanui's elite hitters, including longtime Black Sox sluggers Tyron Bartorillo and Thomas Makea. He racked up 24 strikeouts over the two encounters.

Ramblers confirmed their reputation as New Zealand's leading club of the modern era - 36 years after their first national title in 1982.

It was Nukunuku's seventh winner's medal, but he said: "The best thing is it was the first one for a lot of these players. They are really happy."

Ramblers had last won the tournament in 2014. Nukunuku said they had come close in later years without quite pulling it off.

He hoped there would be more titles in store for the Mt Albert club with the side fielding "just three players over the age of 23".

Ramblers got plenty of runs from the bats of Nukunuku, Black Sox shortstop Cole Evans, Rhys Evans, Connor Peden and Lewis Jerard as they dominated the tournament.

Nukunuku also paid tribute to the equally young Papanui lineup, who took the final to the Aucklanders after losing 7-0 to them in five innings on Saturday evening.

"Papanui got some great production this week from their pitcher, Ben Watts; he really put his hand up and led their team."

The final was one for the purists with pitchers dominating the hitters.

Watts, a former Otago pitcher now based in Christchurch,  struck out eight Ramblers batters for three safe hits and three walks.

Two of those hits came back-to-back in the bottom of the sixth inning when Ramblers equalised at 1-1.

Bradley Bennett, who led off with a single down the first baseline and Nukunuku followed by picking up a hit through second base.

Bennett later crossed home plate before catcher Nathan Watt could apply the tag.

Papanui couldn't get a hit off Chapman in the seventh and some nifty baserunning by Wardrope got him in the position to score the title-sealing run on a rare loose pitch by Watts.

Papanui had earlier showed plenty of power to thrash Poneke Kilbirnie in the elimination final after home runs by young first baseman Callum Bishop and Thomas Makea, who also clouted a triple.

Watts took four strikeouts for four hits before handing over to Ethan Johnston to close with two strikeouts and no hits to mark his return to the Tigers' ranks from his coaching duties in Indonesia.

Papanui, bolstered by guest players Stuart and Josh Hartwig from Christchurch rivals Albion, got good service during the series in the batter's box from former Junior Black Sox hitters Bishop and Jackson Watt and Bartorillo, who blasted three home runs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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