Canada and New Zealand hitters feast in an ISF world championship classic

Written by Bob on March 4th, 2013

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The New Zealand Black Sox perform the haka during the ISF World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo By Ben Campbell / World Softball Championships

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – Fastball purists, those who relish a masterfully pitched, low-scoring game, would have turned away in disgust. But for those fans who delight in seeing softball bats smashing a yellow sphere all over a ball diamond – as well over the fence – they would have loved this classic matchup.

And numbers crunchers would have glowed over these stats.

The Canadian and New Zealand men’s national fastball teams combined for 26 hits, 16 runs, and five home runs on Monday night in the 13th International Softball Federation World Championship. See Box Score

And when the bats were finally set-aside for the night, Canada had outslugged New Zealand 9-7 to win a marquee matchup at Rosedale Park in Albany.

As for the pitching?

It was a game of survival, of weathering a tornado of hot hitters. Eight pitchers toed the rubber – four on each side.

WORLD CLASS PITCHERS
Canada trotted out Sean Cleary for three innings; Paul Koert for two; Sean Whitten windmilled another 1.2, and Don Scott finished up with 1.1 to finally nail down the win.

And New Zealand countered with Penese Iosefo, who lasted 2.2; Nik Hayes for 1.1; Jeremy Manley went the longest with 3, and Jarrad Martin ended the revolving door relief effort with an inning.

It was also a game of heroic type efforts.

HOMER-HITTING RONA
For New Zealand, right-side hitting Brad Rona (3-for-4, 3 RBI, 2 runs) looked like he was going to be New Zealand’s hero of the game early on. His line drive, two-run home run over the left field fence in the first inning gave the Black Sox a 3-0 lead. Then in the fourth, Rona belted a solo shot off the lefty, Koert, to push New Zealand’s advantage to 4-1.

Meanwhile, Canada’s batters must have been stewing and muttering to themselves. They loaded the bases in the first inning and again in the fourth. Only to come away empty.

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Softball Canada

CANADA’S BATS HEAT UP
But from the fifth through the eighth innings, there was no stopping Canada’s Mathieu Roy (2-3, RBI, run) and Brad Ezekiel (3-5, 2 RBIs, run); Ian Fehrman (2-3, 2 runs) and Ryan Wolfe (2-5, RBI, run). Or the likes of Ryan Boland (2-5, 3 RBIs 2 runs), and Brandon Horn (3-4, RBI)…Every Canadian who carried a bat to the plate had at least one hit.

This murders’ row of a lineup, scored 3 runs in the fifth, 1 each in the sixth and seventh, and 3 in the eighth to finally subdue New Zealand, and put the Canadians atop of Pool B with 4-0 record. While New Zealand stands second at 3-1.

The dramatics?

HALE’S HOMER GIVES KIWIS HOPE
New Zealand supplied that in the bottom of the seventh. With two out and Nathan Nukunuku (1-3, 2 runs) on second, Donny Hale (1-4, 3 RBI, run) sent Kiwi fans into a howling tizzy by belting a first-pitch home run to tie the game at 6-6.

Hale’s home run came off one of the world’s greatest hurlers – Sean Whitten – just one out from nailing down the win. Now with the game deadlocked at the end of seven, the tiebreaker went into effect, in which a runner is put at second base to start the inning.

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New Zealand Softball

EZEKIEL GIVES CANADA VICTORY
Jarrad Martin – New Zealand’s fourth pitcher – came on to relieve Iosefo (who had reentered) at the start of the eighth. Martin was greeted with a one-out bomb off the bat of Brad Ezekiel that left the yard over the left-centerfield fence, bringing in two runs.

Fehrman followed with a single, and Wolfe’s hit up the middle brought Fehrman racing home for Canada’s final tally, and a three run cushion.

New Zealand threatened with a run in its half of the eighth, but Scott (1 1/3 innings, 1 hit, 1 strikeout), who picked up the win, got a ground out and pop up to finally put this hitters’ classic to rest.

CANADA AND NEW ZEALAND IN THE FINAL?
When pool play is finished and eight of the 16 teams advance to the playoffs, it’s not unlikely that these two clubs could meet again to decide who wears the world championship crown.

In other scores on the fourth day: Argentina blasted the Netherlands 11- 1; Great Britain powered past Indonesia 10-0; the United States defeated the Czech Republic 10-7; Mexico edged the Philippines 8-6; Japan beat Colombia 9-2; Australia defeated South Africa 9-1; and Venezuela got by Samoa 4-3.

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