Australia rallies to eliminate the United States in Men’s Softball World Championship

Written by Bob on July 15th, 2017

DUANE WEILER pitched well in relief for Team USA, but Australia rallied for an 11-7 victory in the second round of playoffs of the 2017 Men’s Softball World Championship at the Pepsi Softball Centre in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, Saturday, July 15. Photo USA Softball

WHITEHORSE, Yukon, Canada – The United States jumped out to an early lead, chased one of the world’s best pitchers, and had all the momentum going its way.

But victory was not to be.

Australia capitalized on costly errors and shaky pitching to come away with an 11-7 victory in the second round of playoffs, Saturday, at the Pepsi Softball Centre in Whitehorse.

The loss eliminates the United States (6-3) from the tournament with a sixth place finish, while Australia (7-2) advances to become one of four teams still in contention for the world championship.

Team USA sent nine batters to the plate to take a 3-0 lead in the first inning, highlighted by Matt Palazzo’s two-run double and Pat Sagdal’s run-scoring single.

And in the process chased Australia’s Andrew Kirkpatrick, regarded as one of the best pitchers – if not the best left-hander – in the game.

But in the bottom half of the first Australia roughed up USA’s Tony Mancha for a pair of runs to put themselves right back in the game.

The real damage to the Americans, however, came in the second inning in which Australia plated six runs to take the lead for good.

And it all started with a controversial call.

It appeared that the USA had caught Julian Jemmott in a run down between third base and home, but the officials ruled that he had been obstructed from scoring, voided the out, and allowed Australia the run, tying the game.

USA Head Coach Denny Bruckert appealed and argued the call for several minutes, and as a result was tossed from the game.

That contentious episode seemed to open the flood gates as James Todhunter hammered a two-run shot over the centerfield fence off Jeremy Manley, who relieved Mancha in the second.

And after Nick Shailes worked Manley for a walk, Kirkpatrick rifled a single up the middle. That brought Ryan Merriman to the plate and he launched another homer over the centerfield wall to give Australia a commanding 8-3 advantage.

Manley, showing signs of some sort of injury, departed in the third with left-hander Duane Weiler taking his turn.

Spinning a sharp breaking drop to each side of the plate, and mixing in an effective change-up, Weiler kept the Aussie batters off balance over the final four innings. But as well as he threw, Weiler couldn’t overcome a pair of errors that added three more runs and put the game out of reach.

Team USA refused to fold, though, and tacked on three more runs off Australian ace, Adam Folkard, considered the best pitcher in the world.

Erick Ochoa singled down the left-field line in the fourth, chasing home Matt Ratliff, who drilled a double off Folkard. In 6 1/3 innings, he allowed four earned runs with 10 strikeouts.

Then in the fifth, left-side hitting Pat Sagdal took a Folkard rise ball over the centerfield fence for a two-run shot.

And for good measure, Chase Turner, took a Folkard offering deep over the centerfield wall in the seventh for Team USA’s final run. But that was it as a Folkard drop ball got a ground ball to end the game.

The United States outhit Australia 10 to 9 with Ratliff, Ochoa and Sagdal all 2-for-4, Tyler Dudley, Matt Palazzo, Kevin Castillo, and Turner had a hit a piece.

Weiler (2-0) in his first world championship, finished the game in great fashion. Hurling the final four innings, he gave up just three hits and a walk with two strikeouts, and didn’t allow any earned runs.

Australia was led by Jemmott and Kirkpatrick with two hits each, while Todhunter, Shailes, Ryan Merriman, Joshua White and Nick Norton each had a hit.

Leave a Comment