New Zealand opened the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship with a strong win over Czech Republic, in the first game of the event held at Svoboda Park, in Prague. The reigning world champions beat the host team, 9-0, with a gem by right-hander Nik Hayes, who pitched a 15-strikeout, complete game shutout.
Michal Holobradek started the game for Czech Republic and retired the side in the top of the first inning with two grounders and a strikeout. However, in the second inning, New Zealand scored twice to take the lead. Thomas Enoka crushed the first hit of the tournament, a triple to right field with one out to put himself in scoring position. Then Reilly Makea was hit by a pitch, and Zane Van Lieshout hit a 2-out, 2-run triple to right center field to put the Black Sox on the board.
In the fourth, New Zealand added one more run to the difference. Cole Evans led off with a walk and advanced on a sac bunt by Makea. With two outs, Tyron Bartorillo hit a soft grounder to second base, Patrik Kolkus made the play but the first baseman Mikulas Klas couldn’t catch the throw, allowing Evans cross the plate from second base.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s starter Nik Hayes was in control of the situation. The right-hander allowed the first hit in the bottom of the fourth, a soft-line single to left field by right fielder Marek Maly. The Black Sox’s starter was brilliant this afternoon, he fanned 15 opponents, allowing only 3 hits and 3 walks.
In the fifth the host team managed to put two runners on, Vaclav Svoboda doubled and then Kolkus walked, with two outs. However, David Mertl grounded to shortstop to end the inning.
The defending world champions doubled their run difference in the top of the sixth. Evans reached on a defensive error, and moved to third on a single by Van Lieshout, his second hit of the game, to put runners on the corners. Then Evans scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Tyron Bartorillo and Ben Enoka hit a 2-run homer to center field off Czech reliever Marek Joska to make it 6-0.
One inning later New Zealand added three more runs. They loaded the bases and then Campbell Enoka drew a walk, Van Lieshout was hit by a pitch and Bartorillo hit an RBI single to center field.
The Czech Republic and New Zealand will have tomorrow a day off; both teams will play their second game of the championship on Saturday, again in Prague. The host team will play Mexico at 19:30, while the Black Sox will take on Cuba, at 16:30.
You can find the boxscore and the best pictures of the game here.