New Zealand looks golden against Venezuela

Written by Bob on March 8th, 2013

New Zealand pitcher Jeremy Manley gave the Black Sox a huge boast with a 15-strikeout effort to hold off a very good Venezuelan ball club in a winner’s matchup in the 13th ISF World Softball Championship.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – Since finishing second to Australia in the 2009 ISF World Championship, the New Zealand Black Sox have been planning, working and striving to bring the title back home.

As host to the World Championship, the Black Sox now have that opportunity.

On Saturday night in a winner’s matchup with Venezuela, the Black Sox punched their ticket into the championship grand finale on Sunday by defeating Venezuela 2-0.

Was finishing runner up in the 2009 event a motivator?

“It was a huge motivator,” said former Black Sox Manager Wayne Small in an interview during the game. “A lot of men here were on that team. They remember that (losing 5-0 to Australia) and have used it to their advantage.”

However, Venezuela (1-1 playoffs, 5-3) isn’t finished. They came into the game with two lives, and on Sunday will take on the winner between Australia and Argentina in the Bronze Medal game. The winner then advances into the championship with New Zealand with the Silver and Gold up for grabs.

The Black Sox trusted Jeremy Manley with the ball and he responded with a golden performance. The right-hander went the full seven innings, allowing just one run on four hits, with 15 strikeouts, and one walk.

For Manley, this was one pleasing game on the win side.

“It’s very satisfying to be able to get back into the final. We’re excited. We’re pumped,” Manley said.

New Zealand (2-0 playoffs, 8-1) pounded out six hits and scored single runs in the second and sixth innings. Donny Hale brought home the Black Sox first run when he singled, stole second and finally scored on two Venezuelan errors.

Then in the sixth, Black Sox captain Rhys Casley, batting from the left side in the DH spot, gave Manley some insurance with an opposite field double to left-field that scored Daniel Milne, running for Hale who singled with one out.

Venezuelan pitcher Ramon Jones induced back-to-back ground outs to end the inning, but the damage had been done. Jones pitched a fine game, but on this night, Manley was better.

He finished off Venezuela by striking out the side in the bottom of the eighth and then the high fives and backslapping started.

“We’ve waited four years to be where we want to be,” said catcher Patrick Shannon in an interview. “We are here to win it. Last night showed we could do it (5-4 win over Australia).”

Now the Black Sox will wait for three teams to battle it out; Australia takes on Argentina in a survival game, with the winner meeting Venezuela for the right for a shot at the Black Sox

Regardless of who New Zealand faces, first baseman Brad Rona said New Zealand is ready.

“We have one more to go and then we can celebrate,” he said in an interview. “Beating the Aussies planted the seed for today. It doesn’t matter who we play, we are ready.”

Swinging solid bats for the Black Sox were Ben Enoka 2 for 3, Hale 2-3, run; Shannon 1-2, and Casley 1-2, RBI.

For Venezuela, pitcher Ramon Jones gave up the two runs on six hits, one walk, along with five strikeouts.

Herwins Querales led Venezuela at the plate, going 2 for 3, and Rafael Flores and Yelder Chirinos had one hit each.

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