New Zealand advanced to the semi-finals of the Men’s Softball World Championship and remains alive in their title defence. Today, they clinched a come from behind win over rivals Australia, 7-4, to advance to semi-finals.
They will play Japan for a spot in the World Championship Game.
Australia took a 4-1 lead in the first half of the game, but stellar pitchers Adam Folkard and Andrew Kirkpatrick were touched for six runs in the top of the fifth, and couldn’t hold the lead.
In the bottom of the third Callum Beashel singled up the middle with one out, and three pitches later stole second base. Then Hayden Mathews was hit by a pitch, and both advanced on a double steal play. With two outs, Nick Shailes was intentionally walked to face Andrew Kirkpatrick with the bases loaded, but Chapman threw a wild pitch allowing the first run of the game. New Zealand head coach Mark Sorenson decided to intentionally walk Kirkpatrick to full the bases, but Brendon O’Byrne drew a walk to make it 2-0. Chapman got out of the inning striking out Nick Norton.
New Zealand answered in the top of the fourth with a run, product of a sacrifice fly by Reilly Makea to plate Thomas Enoka. The left fielder reached on a single bunt, and Wayne Laulu was hit by Folkard. They advanced on a sac bunt, and finally, Makea plated the first run of the Black Sox.
In the bottom of the fourth, Australia put two more runs on the scoreboard. With a runner on first Chapman left a pitch in the heart of the strike zone and Beashel hit a towering home run to left field to give Australia and Folkard a 3-run lead.
However in the top of the fifth New Zealand exploded with six runs, including back to back home runs by Joel Evans and Ben Enoka to take a 7-4 lead.
New Zealand remains in the hunt for their eighth-ever title, and tomorrow will take on Japan in the Semi-Final. Both teams faced each other in the Opening Round with a 5-1 win for the Asian team.