New Zealand wins 7th WBSC Men’s Championship

Mon 17 Jul 2017

World #1 New Zealand defeated World #5 Australia by 6-4 on Sunday 16 July to win the gold medal at the WBSC Men's Softball World Championship in Whitehorse, Canada.

The win marks the seventh gold medal for New Zealand in the event -- a WBSC record.


Tension

New Zealand scored first in a suspenseful final when Campbell Enoka walked in the bottom of the first inning and reached third through aggressive base running.  Nathan Nukunuku then hit a sacrifice fly to push Enoka across the plate for the first run of the game.

Australia took the lead in the top of the third inning as Julian Jemmott reached on a lead-off single and was driven in by a James Todhunter single to left field.  With the bases loaded and one out, Andrew Kirkpatrick hit a fly ball to left field to score Ryan Sinclair to give the Aussies the 2-1 advantage.

Australia extended their lead in the fourth inning, adding a run when Liam O'Leary walked and was later driven in by Ryan Sinclair for the 3-1 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth inning the Black Sox loaded the bases with one out.  Brad Rona then hit a fly ball to right centre field to bring Campbell Enoka home to cut the deficit to one run.  But Australian starter Adam Folkard got out of the inning, snagging a high grounder and throwing to first with his team still ahead 3-2.

But New Zealand took the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth inning when Joel Evans blasted a huge two-out grand slam to put the Black Sox 6-3 ahead.

With the capacity crowd on their feet, Australia tried a comeback in the top of the seventh inning as Nick Shailes hit a solo home run with two out to bring the game to 6-4.  But a groundout to third ended the game, giving New Zealand a record seventh Men's Softball World Championship title.
 

Road to the finals

New Zealand (6-1) finished on top of Pool B to qualify for the Championship Round.  In the playoffs, they defeated Australia by a score of 6-2 to advance to the semi-final game against Canada.

Australia (5-2) finished second in Pool A.  Although they then lost to New Zealand, they beat the USA 11-7 to advance to the semi-final game against Argentina.

In the semi-final games, New Zealand defeated Canada 12-11 to advance to the gold medal game, while Australia defeated Argentina, 4-1 to face Canada in the bronze medal game.  Australia had their bats going in this contest, scoring seven runs on eight hits to defeat the defending champions 7-3.  That left Canada with the bronze medal.

The 15th Men's Softball World Championship in Whitehorse brought together 16 national teams from all five regions, as India and Turkey made their World Championship debuts.

The 16th Men's Softball World Championship will be held in Prague, Czech Republic, in 2019.


Final standings

1 – New Zealand
2 – Australia
3 – Canada
4 –Argentina
5 – Japan
6 – USA
7 – Venezuela
8 – Botswana
9 – Czech Republic
10 – South Africa
11 – Dominican Republic
12 – Denmark
13 – Great Britain
14 – Hong Kong
15 – India
16 -- Turkey

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