July 19, 2014 (Whitehorse, YT) – With a bye to the Gold Medal Game on the line, Argentina and New Zealand squared off in the second semifinal Saturday at the 2014 Junior Men’s World Softball Championship.
Argentina entered the game undefeated, posting a record of 9-0 during preliminary play. The Black Sox were ranked second at 8-1 – their only loss coming against Argentina (5-0).
Ace Huemul Mata got the start for Argentina, after not allowing a run in three wins during preliminary play. But it was New Zealand’s Ethan Johnston who was tossing strikes from the mound, pitching his best game of the tournament so far.
Johnston recorded 11 strikeouts over seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits in the Black Sox’s 3-1 victory.
Matias Zapata opened the scoring for Argentina in the top of the 3rd, blasting a solo home run. Connor Peden responded for New Zealand in the bottom of the inning, scoring on an error by the second baseman.
Callum Elson made it home after Te Kahui Bishop was hit by a pitch, and then Cole Evans gave the Black Sox a 3-1 lead on a perfectly executed squeeze play by Vincent Harris.
Mata was replaced by Roman Godoy in the bottom of the 5th, and while Godoy held New Zealand’s offence off for the final three innings, Argentina was unable to take advantage and complete a rally.
New Zealand advances straight to the Gold Medal Game at 4:00 pm Sunday. The Black Sox haven’t played in the final of a junior men’s world championship since 1997, when they won silver. At the 2012 championship, New Zealand finished 6th.
Argentina, meanwhile, moves to the Bronze Medal Game against Japan at 1 pm Sunday, in a rematch of the 2012 final. The winner of that game will face New Zealand for gold.
Japan is guaranteed to win a medal after defeating Australia 12-3 in the first semifinal. Australia finished the tournament in fourth place.
Japan jumped out to an early lead when Haruki Kinjo drove in two runs with a single in the top of the 1st. Kinjo then advanced home when Kazuki Kajihara was hit by a pitch from Jay Selu.
The runs kept coming for the Japanese in the 2nd. Hideo Morita hit a two-RBI double, then scored on a walk, and two more came in on wild pitches. Japan was up 7-0 when Luke Ollerenshaw came on for Selu. They scored one more to lead by eight heading into the 3rd.
Ollerenshaw was able to keep Japan off the scoreboard through the top of the 5th, and in the bottom of the inning, the Aussies started a comeback. A triple from Tyrell Priestley drove in two, and then Priestly crossed home on a single by Mason Rossi.
But in the top of the 6th, Japan put the game out of reach with four more runs. Kento Okazaki picked up the win on the mound for Japan, allowing three runs on seven hits and striking out nine.
Consolation action Saturday saw Canada split games with Singapore and Mexico, while the Czech Republic split their double header against Denmark and the USA.
Canada opened the day with an 11-1 win over Singapore, thanks to the pitching of Matt Wardrop and a three-run homer from Tyler Pauli.
The game was scoreless until the top of the 4th when Canada put up three runs on two errors, and two more on a Matt Pilon double. The Canadians added to their lead in the 5th, with a two-RBI double from Johnathan Baker and the three-run dinger from Pauli. Nick Penner scored on a walk to make it 11-0.
Ye Zian scored the lone run for Singapore in the bottom of the 5th.
In their second game, Canada faced Mexico and homeruns were the theme of the evening. Down 1-0 after the first, Mexico tied it up with a long ball from Rafael Alvarez in the top of the 2nd.
Pitchers Marc-Andre Villeneuve and Jaudiel Oliaiz shut offence down through the 3rd, but in the top of the 4th, Cesar Marquez hit an RBI double for the Mexicans, then scored on an error by the catcher.
A massive three-run shot from Matt Pilon in the bottom of the inning put Canada ahead 4-3, and they added to the total with a single homer by Tyson Zehr in the 5th.
Eric Healey subbed in for Villeneuve on the mound and in the top of the 6th, Mexico’s bats proved too hot to handle. With the bases loaded, Daniel Durazo rose to the challenge, socking the ball out of the park for a grand slam.
Taylor Schubada hit a two-run homer in the 7th to bring Canada within one, but it wasn’t enough as they fell 8-7. The Canadians finish the tournament in 7th place while Mexico moves on to play the USA in the Consolation Final at 2 pm Sunday.
The Americans earned a berth in the consolation final by overpowering the Czech Republic 12-2. The USA led 1-0 heading into the 4th when Jimbo Pernetti added to the lead with a solo home run, then Colton Nielson hit a two-run homer to put them up 4-0. Tristan Sensenig added three RBIs on a single and error by the center fielder in the 6th, while Faron Apauty Jr singled and scored as part of a four-run 7th.
Viktor Chuchma and Simon Biza scored the lone runs for the Czechs, who finish the championship in eighth place.
Earlier in the day the Czech Republic beat Denmark 8-2 thanks to a six-run 6th inning and strong pitching from Marek Maly. Daniel Cerny had one run, two hits and two RBIs for the Czechs. Lukas Lohmann pitched all seven innings for Denmark. They finish in 9th place, above Singapore.
For live stats and free webcasts of Sunday’s championship round, visit www.worldfastpitch2014.com.
For more information, contact:
2014 Junior Men’s World Softball Championship
echo [at] outsidethecube.ca