The Aussie Steelers defeated the USA and Argentina on day nine of the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship, in Whitehorse, Canada, to secure a world championship medal.
The colour of the medal – be it gold, silver or bronze – will be decided on the final day of the championship.
In their first game on the penultimate day of the championship, against the USA, the Steelers fell behind 3-0 in the top of the first inning.
The Steelers immediately responded in the bottom of the first inning, with leadoff hitter Brendon O’Byrne getting walked, before hits to Andrew Kirkpatrick and Joshua White put two runs on the board.
The Steelers held the USA in the top of the second inning, before blowing the game wide open in the bottom of the second, with six runs. An obstruction call that allowed Julian Jemmott to score seemed to unsettle the US, with James Todhunter following it up with a two-run home run. Ryan Merriman followed a walk to Nick Shailes and a single to Kirkpatrick with his own three-run home run, making it 8-3 to the Steelers.
The Steelers added a run in the bottom of the third inning, Todhunter scoring on a pass ball, and a further two runs in the bottom of the fourth, when Hayden Mathews reached on an error and then Julian Jemmott blasted a home run.
The US kept coming at the Steelers, adding runs in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings, but the Steelers held them out to win 11-7.
Adam Folkard pitched the win for the Steelers, going 6 1/3 innings for 10 strikeouts.
That victory set up a clash against Argentina.
The Steelers started well, scoring two runs in the first inning, on the back of a home run to James Todhunter, a double to Nick Shailes and a single to Ryan Merriman to score Shailes.
Argentina immediately responded in the top of the second inning, scoring a run to make it 2-1. The Aussie Steelers had to wait until the bottom of the fourth inning to extend their lead, Julian Jemmott getting a hit, before Todhunter, with two out, hit his second home run of the game, making it 4-1.
That was all the offence the Steelers needed, with Andrew Kirkpatrick able to keep Argentina’s bats quiet, the Steelers winning 4-1.
Kirkpatrick pitched exceptionally well for the full seven innings, giving up just five hits and striking out five.
The Aussie Steelers now face Canada at 1.00pm on Sunday 16 July (6.00am AEST Monday 17 July). Should the Steelers defeat Canada, they will advance to the gold medal game against New Zealand at 4.00pm (9.00am AEST). If the Steelers fall to Canada, they will claim the bronze medal.