Australia crushes USA’s medal dream

Written by Bob on July 18th, 2014

WHITEHORSE, YUKON, CA – The United States will have to wait another two years for chance at a gold medal in the ISF Junior Men’s World Championship.

Australia made sure of that.

The Colts burst out to a six-nil lead in the top of the first inning, added two more in the second on Matthew Wickham’s two-run homer, and cruised to an 8-0 victory over Team USA, Friday night at the Pepsi Softball Centre in Whitehorse.

The game had a lot at stake. Both teams came into this final round robin game tied at 5-3. The winner would move on to the four-team medal round, while the loser drops into the consolation bracket.

And so Australia, which has won four of the past five junior men’s world championships, has a chance to reclaim the crown after Argentina won it in 2012.

Australia Head Coach Wayne Saunders was pleased how his team responded in qualifying for the medal round.

“Coming out and starting like we did today is pretty awesome,” he said. “The goal all along was to qualify. We completed our goal and now we take one game at a time.”

The win pits the Colts against Japan (6-3) at 4 p.m. Saturday in a single elimination game. The winner is assured of at least a Bronze medal and advances, while the loser finishes fourth.

Not all is lost for Team USA.

They still have a chance for redemption in the consolation tournament. As the No. 5 seed, the USA gets a first-round bye and then starts play Saturday at 7:30 p.m. A win would put them into Sunday’s final at 2 p.m.

No doubt Australia deserved the win over the USA. They came out attacking the ball, determined to jump on top. And they did in convincing fashion with the six-run first inning, highlighted by Wickham’s RBI single, and doubles by Jayden Lach and Tyrell Priestley that chased home four more runs.

Once the Colts got the lead, the pitching staff was lights out. There’s not one pitcher Australia leans on. It’s been by committee throughout the 10-day tournament.

And it was no different against the USA. Three pitchers saw action. And all three were spectacular combining on a no-hitter.

Jerremyah Selu (2-1) got the start and the win, going thee innings with two walks and six strikeouts. He repeatedly had USA batters swinging at his high, hard rise ball that consistently broke above the letters.

Callum Beashel and Anthony Henderson finished with one inning each, as the game ended after five innings under the seven-run mercy rule.

Beashel walked one and struck out two, while Henderson got one strikeout with a walk.

Phillip Zimmerman (3-3) started for the USA, but struggled with his control, walking four, and allowing seven runs on four hits. Zane Chason relieved Zimmerman in the top of second with no outs and a runner aboard. He was promptly greeted by Wickham’s home run over the centerfield fence for the Colts final tally.

But after that Chason pitched well over the final four innings, allowing just one earned run on two hits, no walks, and three strikeouts.

Australia was led by Wickham, 2 for 3, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Priestly, 2 for 2, 2 RBI; Lach, 1 for 3, run, 2 RBI; Kieran OLeary and Hayden Matthews had one hit each.

Undefeated Argentina locked up the No. 1 seed (9-0) and plays No. 2 seed New Zealand (8-1) at 6 p.m. Saturday. The winner advances to the Gold medal game, while the loser plays the winner between Australia and Japan for the right to play in the championship final.

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