Australia crowned today Junior Men’s Softball World Champions for the fifth time in history, defeating Japan, 6-1, with a historic performance by pitcher Layton Reid, who tossed a complete game no-hitter to lead his team to victory.
Ten years after its last world championship in this age bracket, Australia is back again at the top of the world. And did it with an astonishing performance by Reid, who struck out 14 Japanese hitters, and only allowed 4 walks. Today he followed the steps of men’s softball Australian super star Adam Folkard, who also pitched a no-hitter to guide Australia to a world championship; in his case in the 2009 Senior Men’s World Championship final in Saskatoon, coincidentally just a few miles away from Prince Albert.
Australia took the lead in the first inning; leadoff hitter Ryan King just put the barrel on the ball for a single to left field, and Jett Wright followed with another single to put runners at the corners with only one out. Finally Michael Ludkin produced the first run for Australia with a grounder to short stop.
However, Japan tied the game in the bottom of the first; Wataru Seki walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Then Australian catcher Jacob Donaldson couldn’t catch a high pitch, allowing Seki to score from second the only run of the game for the Japanese squad.
One inning later the situation was almost the same, but with a different outcome for Japan. Koki Sato walked and reached third after a wild pitch and a ground out. Then Reid threw a wild pitch, but the ball bounced too hard off the fence, landing right in the glove of Donaldson, who tagged Sato at the plate for the third out.
In the top of the third the Junior Aussie Steelers took the lead in the game with a solo home run off the bat of King to left field, and never looked back. After that, Dawson Summers connected with a pitch at the top of the zone and turned it into a double to center field, and Japan Head Coach Yukihiro Tanaka sent left handed Kazuya Umibe to the circle, replacing Yugo Kitagawa. But Umibe couldn’t avoid Ludkin to single to left field to plate Summers from second.
One inning later Jeremy Waters, with Donaldson on base, hit a long home run to left field to extend the lead to 5-1.
In the fifth frame, with one out, Umibe got in trouble with two consecutive hit by pitches, and was replaced by Shota Onodera. And the reliever loaded the bases with a walk, and then allowed the sixth run for Australia, with a wild pitch.
The last two innings Reid remained in control; Japan’s only runner was allowed by a defensive error in the bottom of the seventh. But then the right handed retired Shogo Nakamura on a grounder to short stop to complete his historic performance.
- New Zealand
- Czech Republic
- South Africa
- Hong Kong