Two home runs and a combined no-hitter power Australia to 3-0 Super Round victory over Cuba

Published Thu 01 Dec 2022

In their first WBSC Men's Softball World Cup Super Round game on Thursday, the Australian Men's National Softball Team put up a convincing performance to beat the Cubans.

Australia's Adam Folkard delivered on his world-class reputation with his longest pitching stint of the World Cup, neutralising the opposition with eight strike outs over four innings of work. In an embarrassment of pitching riches for Australia, the Steelers were able to relieve Folkard with young talent Jack Besgrove, who put in three innings of work for seven strikeouts including a ten-strike perfect inning at the top of the fifth. Neither pitcher gave up a walk and helped to deliver the Steelers fourth shutout for the tournament.

The Steelers scored their first run from an illegal pitch with Scott Patterson walking in on Marshall Kronk's at-bat, however the Cuban team continued their defensive form, having only allowed a total of twelve runs across the Opening Round. Cuba's Alain Román backed up after pitching an extended nine innings the night before to post a respectable line of four hits, two earned runs, six walks and six strikeouts in his five-inning-outing. Román was relieved by Guber Plutin who gave up a home run in the sixth inning.

With the bat in hand the Steelers showed plenty of patience and confidence, drawing six walks and collecting six hits and taking their rare opportunities when they opened up. Nick Shailes further cemented his reputation with a home run to deep centre field in the third, taking his average now to .455. Hayden Mathews homered in the sixth inning to add to his second-inning single and is now the Steelers batting average leader, sitting at .462.

The game was the perfect challenge for the Steelers ahead of their upcoming games with the USA and Argentina, so they'll be sure to take a lot of confidence out of it as they continue their march in the Super Round.

Steelers Head Coach Laing Harrow was elated at the result, saying “It was an excellent effort. We got that run early and we fed off that. Adam (Folkard) gave us a great start on the hill and gave us four solid innings, and then Jack (Besgrove) came in and finished if off.

“We know our position coming in to the Super Round. We know we cannot falter. All we can do is control ourselves – and we have to get wins on the board. We can’t control what other teams do.

“We have to come ready for the USA tomorrow – they had a quality game against Canada – and we will be up against it.

“We want to get to that final game and to do that we have to keep winning.

“We played by the copybook today – get on the board early, pitch well and defend strongly. We have been doing that all week. We faltered against Canada. It is the way we play and the way we want to play again tomorrow.

“The standouts for me today were Adam and Jack on the mound; Josh McGovern called a good game and kept the Cubans off-balance, and Nick Shailes is very vocal and set things up with a good homer again today.”

Friday December 2 vs USA 1:30pm NZDT
Saturday December 3 vs Argentina 7:30pm NZDT

Australia Game Statistics:
HR: (1) SHAILES, Nick; (1) MATHEWS, Hayden
RBI: (1) SHAILES, Nick; (1) MATHEWS, Hayden
BB: (1) PATTERSON, Scott; (1) BEASHEL, Callum; (1) SHAILES, Nick; (2) KRONK, Marshall; (1) O'BYRNE, Brendon
TB: (1) PATTERSON, Scott; (4) SHAILES, Nick; (5) MATHEWS, Hayden; (1) JEMMOTT, Julian; (1) O'BYRNE, Brendon
IBB: (1) SHAILES, Nick

FOLKARD, Adam: 4IP, 0ER, 0BB, 8K
BESGROVE, Jack: 3IP, 0ER, 0BB, 7K

(Image courtesy of the WBSC)