Australia and Japan won their fifth consecutive game today in the WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship, and clinched the first two spots of the Group A. Tomorrow they will play each other to find out which nation win the group and advances to playoffs as the top seeded team of the Group.
Japan beat India, 12-0, in a duel between Asian teams. The winning pitcher for Japan was Taiga Onishi, who pitched a four-innings no hitter, with 8 strikeouts.
In the first inning, India made a great display of defense, with good plays by short stop Pranay Bhongade and pitcher Gaurav Chaudhari, but couldn’t avoid the first run of Japan, with two singles by Hiroshi Sakata and Shoki Matsuo.
It was not the case in the second frame, when the Indian defense committed two errors and allowed the Japanese team score three more runs. One inning later tJapan stroke again, on three hits and a walk to produce three more runs, before the game was delayed for 45 minutes due to rain.
Then in the fourth frame Japan exploded with five more runs, including a two-run shot off the bat of Sakata and a solo homer by Matsuo, who went 3 for 3 with 2 RBIs in the game.
Australia scored multiple runs in the four innings played to earn a knockout win over South Africa, 17-1. The hitters from Oceania had a very productive day, with four home runs and 11 hits over the game.
Australia took a three-run lead in the top of the first, with only two swings. South African pitcher Nathan Jacobs left a pitch up in the zone and Australian leadoff hitter Ryan King took advantage of it hitting a long home run to left field. One out later, clean up hitter Michael Ludkin found Jett Wright on first, and did some damage with a 2-run homer to left center field.
However, Australian left handed pitcher Shaun Lanaghan saw his lead reduced to two runs, when left fielder Jordan Atkin hit an RBI triple to the right field to plate Nathan Pletschke.
However, Australia’s bats were still hot in the top of the second with seven runs product of three singles, a double, a hit by pitch and a walk.
The Junior Aussie Steelers added five more runs one inning later, on a bases loaded sacrifice fly by Mathew Harrow, a three-run bomb off the bat of Wright, and an RBI single by Jarred Garland.
Australia kept scoring in the top of the fourth with another home run, this time off the bat of Blake Jackson, who ended the game 3 for 3, with 3 RBIs and 3 runs scored.
India took its second win of the tournament beating Denmark by 9-2 in six innings. Chaudhari had a fantastic afternoon with 6 innings of work, 3 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks and 9 strikeouts. With the bat on his hands, he went 3 for 4, with 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored, including a homer.
India jumped ahead in the top of the first inning with three runs. Bhongade hit an easy fly to left fielder to open the game, but William Melin dropped the ball, allowing the Indian leadoff hitter to reach third base. Then, Chirag Sangwan hit a hard line to left field to produce the first run of the game. Nikhil Nayak and Chaudari hit back to back singles to load the bases, and then scored on a wild pitch and a fielder’s choice respectively.
Denmark answered in the bottom of the same inning. Catcher Oscar Andersen drew a walk, stole second base, and scored on an RBI single by Oscar Svendsen.
In the top of the third the Asian team regained the three-run lead, with an inside the park home run off the bat of Sourabh Yadav, a hard hit ball to center field that was misplayed by the defense.
Denmark answered with one on their own in identical way. Andersen hit a single and stole second for the second time in the game, and then scored on a single by Svendsen, who went 2 for 3 for the game with 2 RBIs.
But in the top of the fifth India stroke again. Sangwan reached on an error, and Nayak hit a single. Then Chaudhari hit a line drive shot to left field for a three run homer. This was the first ever home run for India at Junior Men’s Softball World Championship level. India added one more on a defensive error.
Finally, the Asians extended its lead to 9-2 in the top of the sixth with a sacrifice fly to center field off the bat of Yadav.
With the seven-run difference in the score, Chaudari put another zero in the board with two strikeouts to end the game.
India is till alive in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs, and tomorrow will face Argentina at 12.30.