United States defeats Australia for crucial win in softball world championship

Written by Bob on July 8th, 2017

WHITEHORSE, YK, Canada – The defense? Stellar. The pitching? Superb. The offense? Clutch.

Team USA put together an outstanding game to defeat Australia, 2-1, in the second round of the 2017 Men’s Softball World Championship at the Pepsi Softball Centre in Whitehorse, Saturday.

And it was without a doubt a team win.

Let’s start with the pitching.

Jeremy Manley started and went five innings giving up just two hits – one of them a first-inning home run to Nick Shailes that gave the Aussies the early lead.

Often, that’s all the run support Aussie hurler Adam Folkard needs. Considered by many fastpitch experts as the best pitcher in all of men’s fastpitch, he can be nearly impossible to hit with his 80-plus mph riser and drop.

Though Folkard pitched well, allowing just three hits, he didn’t appear overwhelmingly invincible in this contest.

Team USA threatened to score in the second inning with Kevin Castillo reaching third by way of a double and fielder’s choice; and in the third, leadoff batter Matt Ratliff worked Folkard for a walk and stole second.

In each instance, though, Folkard escaped trouble with a strikeout and ground ball.

But in the fourth, Team USA finally got to him when catcher Nick Mullins laced a bases-loaded single into right-centerfield that brought home Matt Palazzo and Bryce Kay with the tying and go-ahead runs.

Palazzo reached safely on an infield single and Kay walked, along with Erick Ochoa, who Folkard intentionally issued a free pass. The big right-hander chose to face Mullins with two outs rather than Ochoa, who has been one of Team USA’s hottest hitters.

And Mullins came through big time, lacing a Folkard riser for the winning hit.

Now with the lead, could Team USA hold it?

USA Head Coach, Denny Bruckert, chose to lift Manley at the start of the sixth for Tony Mancha – even though Manley had been nearly untouchable after giving up the home run to Shailes.

But in a test of nerves, of will and pitching guts, Mancha held off the Aussies in a dramatic seventh inning finish.

Australia threatened with runners at first and third by way of an infield error and walk with one out. With the Aussie bench cheering, shouting and hooting, Mancha reached back and struck out Liam O’Leary with a blistering rise ball for out number two.

But Mancha still had one out to notch. And it was by far the most difficult out of the game.

Right-side hitting, Mark Harris, strode to the plate in a pinch-hitting role. And he fouled off pitch-after-pitch – 10 in all – before Mancha finally set him down swinging under a rise ball on a full count to end the game.

  • But the defense can’t be overlooked: especially left-fielder Marcus Tan.
  • In the sixth inning with two out and Nick Shailes on first by way of a walk, Lewis Weldon – batting cleanup – drilled a line drive down the left-field line, and it appeared to be at least a run-scoring double.

    But Tan refused to let it happen. He was off at the crack of the bat, racing into the corner and making a spectacular, diving catch inches off the grass that kept Australia from tying the game.

    As he trotted in from the outfield, he was engulfed by his appreciative teammates.

    Team USA came into the contest needing to right itself after dropping a 5-1 loss to Argentina in the opening round, while Australia came in riding a 16-0 victory over Indonesia.

    Folkard, who went the distance, finished with a three-hitter and eight strikeouts, while Manley allowed the lone run on two hits with four strikeouts, before Mancha finished and got the save with two strikeouts and three walks.

    In the eight-team Section A, Team USA has perhaps the most difficult early start in pool play by having to face Argentina, Australia and Canada – all three highly ranked and among the favorites to win the championship.

    To qualify for the medal-round, Team USA must finish in the top-four in their pool, so beating Australia was a huge step in that direction.

    Next up is Canada on Sunday, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Whitehorse Pepsi Softball Centre.

    And as with Australia, the Canadians (1-0) will be a stern test for Team USA.

    To watch the game live, click on Sports Canada TV

    3 Comments so far ↓

    1. Tom Stasik says:

      Wow, that was a really good game. A nail biter for sure. Really great pitching, with both teams having dangerous hitters all through the lineup. Clutch pitching, and defense, with several runners stranded on the bases. Huge win for the USA.

    2. Tom Stasik says:

      We have openings for teams, as well as individuals, interested in playing in the INTERNATIONAL SOFTBALL CONGRESS TOURNAMENT, being held in Saginaw, Michigan, the weekend of July 21 – 23. Two weekends in a row for boys to play the game we do love in the Saginaw Valley. Please share my e-mail address. Thanks Bob, Tom

    3. Bob says:

      Will do Tom. I’ll post right now.

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