December2014

"Black Sox robbed in series final"

December 13, 2014

Auckland, NZ


 

"Black Sox robbed in series final"

ORIGINAL STORY by Tony Smith

Photosport.co.nz

Josh Harbrow at the Black Sox Softball training session on Saturday.

Australia's world class pitchers shut out the Black Sox in the Oceania softball series final tonight after the New Zealanders had dominated the tournament.

Mark Sorenson's New Zealand team won four of their five games to clinch their berth at the 2015 world championships in Canada alongside the Australians.

But the Australians took out the final 1-0 to pinch the Oceania qualifier title despite losing two earlier games against the Kiwis, the defending world champions.

The Black Sox bats - which had produced 37 hits, including seven automatic home runs  - dried up in last night's final at Auckland's Rosedale Park.

Australia's father-and-son coaching team Bob and Laing Harrow had deliberately shielded star pitchers Adam Folkard and Andrew Kirkpatrick from the Black Sox batters until the final.

The proven pair stepped up to shut out the Kiwis with Laing Harrow, who praised his pitchers, saying the Aussie Steelers knew they needed to "get a run or two early" to beat the Black Sox.

New Zealand actually edged Australia by four safe hits to three but will rue two crucial fielding errors.

Sorenson will know their defence needs a lot of work before they chase a seventh world title in Saskatoon in June. But he would be happy with the contributions of some of his younger players, including Thomas Enoka, debutant Joel Evans and Jerome Raemaki, who all hit home runs during the series with Enoka putting two balls out of the park.

Australia started number two pitcher Kirkpatrick in the final and he ended up grabbing the first run of the game.

Kirkpatrick, who later won the tournament MVP award, forced an error by the Black Sox infield in the top of the first inning and scooted around to second base before scoring on Marshall Kronk's hit.

 

The Black Sox had a great scoring chance in the bottom of the third inning after second baseman Evans and catcher Stephen Ratu produced back-to-back safe hits.

But they remained stranded when left-handed hurler Kirkpatrick dug deep for two clutch strikeouts. The tall pitcher also struck out power hitters Thomas Enoka and Donny Hale in the fourth frame.

But Kirkpatrick's day was done in the fifth after New Zealand's expatriate Australian shortstop Tyron Bartorillo clouted a hit off his former compatriot.

The Australians brought world number one Adam Folkard onto the mound for the first time in three games against the Kiwis at the Oceania tournament.

Folkard, throwing at 130kmh-plus, struck out Ratu.  Pinch hitter Wayne Laulu hit the ball to Australian third baseman Peter Wards, who faked a throw to first base before flicking the ball to shortstop James Todhunter to tag Bartorillo in a slide back to third base.

Australia had a runner at third in the top of the sixth but Josh Harbrow pulled off a reflex double play at third base to snuff out any scoring threat.

The Black Sox gave their fans a glimmer of hope when Raemaki got an infield single in the sixth inning and Hale drew a walk to lead off the seventh. But Australia played error-free softball and their defence held firm.

Black Sox pitcher Nik Hayes, who hurled the Kiwis to a 6-0 win over Australia on Friday night, was equally imposing on the mound tonight. The Hutt Valley man gave up just three hits and took seven strikeouts.

In two games against the Australians, Hayes struck out 19 hitters and conceded just four hits and six walks.  He stepped up superbly as the New Zealanders' go-to pitcher after established ace Jeremy Manley had to withdraw from the series due to injury.

Captain Nathan Nukunuku and Canterbury infielder Josh Harbrow hammered homers in the six-time world champions' win over Samoa yesterday. Wellington's Wayne Laulu hit a two-run line shot in the 9-5 win over Australia this afternoon. 

Today's  results:  

Pool play:

New Zealand 9 Australia 5. 

Australia 7 Samoa 0 (5 innings).

New Zealand 11 Samoa 4 (6 innings). 

Final: Australia 1 New Zealand 0.

 - Stuff

 

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