Johnston leads New Zealand past Argentina into Gold Medal game

Written by Bob on July 20th, 2014

johnston.kiwi.pitcher.183web Ethan Johnston pitching in the 2013 NAFA World Series for the Kansas City Outlaws. Against Argentina he scattered four hits, walked one and struck out 11 in leading New Zealand to a 3-1 victory and into the Gold Medal game of the 10th ISF Junior Men’s World Championship. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2013 NAFA World Series

WHITEHORSE, YUKON, CA – Argentina swept through the ISF Junior Men’s World Championship undefeated in round-robin play. The hitters scored 66 runs, while the pitching staff did not allow a single run in the first six games, and only three the rest of the way.

Argentina easily took care of New Zealand 5–0 in the round robin. Both teams went on to finish No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the final standings. Argentina at 9-0, and New Zealand 8-1.

On Saturday, they met again. This time in the semi-finals of the playoffs to decide who would advance into the gold medal game Sunday afternoon at the Pepsi Softball Centre in Whitehorse.

    TWO TOP PITCHERS

The game featured a pitching matchup of Ethan Johnston for New Zealand and Huemul Mata taking the circle for Argentina.

For many who have seen Mata in action, they consider him the best pitcher in the tournament. In the round robin, he had a perfect ERA, a 3-0 record, and in 19 innings had struck out 37.

So with Mata handed the ball, Argentina looked to be the pitcher and team to beat.

But someone forgot to inform Johnston.

    BEST OF THE SHOW

All he did was steal the show. The slightly built right–hander who looks more like a rock star with his long dreadlocks, held Argentina’s potent offense to four hits and one earned run, a walk, and 11 strikeouts.

When the final out was made, New Zealand and Johnston took a 3-1 victory from Argentina, who came into the tournament as defending 2012 junior men’s world champions and riding an 18-0 win streak.

    COSTLY ERRORS THE DOWNFALL

Mata certainly pitched well enough to win, holding New Zealand to just one hit, while not allowing any earned runs, but four errors were Argentina’s undoing.

mata_Huemul Argentina’s Huemul Mata suffered his first loss of the tournament after going 3-0 in the round robin. He pitched well, but errors stymied his and Argentina’s chance at victory.

Argentina’s defense that performed so brilliantly throughout the tournament, unraveled in the third inning. Two errors, a catcher’s interference, a hit batter, along with a beautiful squeeze bunt by Vincent Harris, accounted for all of New Zealand’s runs.

Given the lead, Johnston didn’t waste his golden opportunity. He mixed and matched his rise ball, drop ball and change-up to keep the Argentines in check.

The only damage was a solo home run in the third by Matias Zapata, who led off with a blast over the left field fence.

Johnston started the game by striking out the side in the first two innings, and he notched two more in the fourth.

For Argentina, Teo Migliavacca, Alan Peker, Facundo Carril, and Zapata (home run) had one hit each.

    MARCHING TOWARD GOLD

Johnston finished strong, setting down Argentina in order in the seventh to send New Zealand into Sunday’s Gold medal game. Where they await the winner between Japan and Argentina. Those two face off for the right to advance with the loser taking home the Bronze medal.

New Zealand’s only hit came from Connor Peden (1 for 2, run), who singled in the 4th. Otherwise, Mata and Roman Godoy were as dominant as they have been throughout the 10-day tournament.

Mata went four innings giving up one hit and a walk with two strikeouts. Godoy pitched the final two innings allowing no hits and no walks with three strikeouts.

Johnston leads New Zealand with a 5–0 record. He has pitched 34 innings, walked 7 and struck out 50 batters with an ERA of 1.16.

    NAFA MVP

Last year at the NAFA World Series, Johnston led the Kansas City Outlaws to the A-Division championship with a 7-1 record, and was chosen the Co-Most Valuable Pitcher.

1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Thomas Makea & Jarrod MARTIN– THE BOOM BOOM BROS— HAVE TERRIFIC SKILLS IN COACHING THIS KIWI TEAM
    INTO A POWERFUL UNIT OF HARD HITTING & A PERFECT SHORT GAME.
    CONGRATULATIONS LARRY & JAZZMAN THE BEST COACHS N.Z COULD HAVE WE ARE VERY LUCKY TO HAVE THESE WORLD CLASS ATHLETES NOW COACHING.
    DALE MEACHEN HAWKES BAY N.Z

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