The preliminary round has been completed and we are one step closer to Sunday’s final. This championship is far from decided, but the biggest surprise of the preliminary round has to be the Dominican Republic – a team that finished 5th in the Pan Am Qualifiers but comes here to beat Australia and Venezuela (two medallists from the previous world championship two years ago).
Dominican Republic’s rise led to two other big surprises – the relegation of USA to the Placement round and Venezuela playing Argentina in the B3 vs A4 game and the loser is out. These are the rising powers in the sport and one will be out Friday.
Today’s 7 Wonders of the Worlds
- Nathan Nukunuku – New Zealand 1B – hit in 4 runs on a pair of singles in his teams win over Czech Republic. He also scored 2 runs.
- Jose Bueno – the Dominican Republic 2B – went 3 for 3. He scored a run and had a key bunt single RBI in his teams win over Venezuela.
- Yennier Volquez (DOM) pitched a 3 hit shutout against Venezuela. He recorded 6 K’s and moved the ball around extremely well against the free swinging Venezuelans.
- Bruno Motroni – Argentina’s catcher – went 3 for 3 with a single, double and a triple in a critical victory for his team. He also called the game for 2 pitches who only gave up 2 hits.
- Chris Miljavac – USA 2B – went 2 for 4 with a homerun. He hit in 3 runs and scored a pair in his team win over Denmark.
- Nate Devine – the American outfielder – went 2 for 3 with 4 RBIs against Denmark.
- Andy Skelton – the Canadian DH/Pitcher – went 3 for 3 at the plate with a homerun and 3 RBIs. He also got his first action in the circle throwing two perfect innings with 5 Ks.
Game 49: Argentina vs Great Britain 2-0
The opening game of the day was critical for both teams – win or be relegated to the placement round. Argentina needed just four hitters to score all the runs of the ball game. A double by Juan Malarczuk, as well as singles by Teo Migliavacca and Bruno Motrini combined with three Kyle Linton wild pitches to produce all the offense needed. Roman Godoy Herbel gave up only two hits in his six innings of work and was replaced by Juan Potolicchio in the bottom of the 7th who was perfect.
In the top of the 6th, an altercation arouse as Argentina’s Juan Brandeur made deliberate contact with Darrin Newson during a rundown between 3B and home and was then pushed over by Rich Haldane in retaliation. The benches emptied and at least one kick and a punch were delivered. Last night the WBSC Softball Division discipline committee gave out one game suspensions to Haldane and Brandeur, a 2 game suspension to Juan Zara, who delivered a kick during the melee, and Nicolas Carril, who delivered a clear punch, was suspended for the length of the championship with further disciplinary action possible.
Following the game Argentina had to wait about three hours to find out that they will play Venezuela at 3:30. Great Britain moved on to the Placement Round and will play Netherlands at 10:30.
Game 50: Venezuela vs Dominican Republic 0-4
This was a battle between two of the top teams in Pool B. A Dominican Republic win would put them atop their pool. A Venezuelan victory meant they would finish second and get two lives in the playoffs. Both teams would drop to 3rd place with a loss.
The first inning typified the whole game for Venezuela. They got the first two runners on but failed to score them. In the bottom of the inning, Pablo Figuereo doubled home Jose Bueno to give the Dominicans a lead they would never relinquish.
In the top of the 2nd, Venezuela was again frustrated as Yennier Volquez gave up a pair of singles to start the inning. Both runners were advanced with one out but could not score. Volquez even gave a two out intentional walk to Yeider Chirinos to load the bases and got the last hitter. Venezuela’s Ramon Jones and Volquez settled in nicely until the bottom of the 5th. Randy Alvarez hit a two out single and was originally called out sliding into 2B. However, when the ball went flying, the umpire changed his call just as Alvarez reached 3B. Jose Bueno then laid down a perfect bunt and barely beat out the throw, allowing the 2nd run to score. That seemed to frustrate Jones who gave up a pair of home runs in the bottom of the 6th to Sergio La Hoz and Engel Santana. La Hoz’s homer came just after a close call that Jones was sure was the third strike.
Volquez was able to hit his spots all game and put out the Venezuela with no damage in the 7th. Dominican Republic became the surprise winners of Pool B and they will play New Zealand on Friday at 8:30PM.
Game 52: Netherlands vs Japan 1-9
Japan secured itself a spot in the championship playoff round with this lopsided win over Netherlands. They got on the board with seven runs on seven hits in the bottom of the 2nd. Kengo Kidani and Hikaru Matsuda hit homers in the inning which brought 10 hitters to the plate. Netherlands got one back in top of the 3rd, thanks to a Randy Lo-A-Tjong single. The Japanese loaded the bases with one out in their half inning scoring two more runs, both on pass balls. That was all Yuki Mori and Kenji Nakamura needed; they combined to keep Netherlands to two hits. Japan will move on to play Czech Republic at 1:00 tomorrow.
Game 51: Czech Republic vs New Zealand 1-11
This game had all kinds of playoff implications. However, New Zealand cleared up the playoff picture very easily. Heinrick Shannon returned to the circle for New Zealand giving up only four hits, one of which was mammoth shot by Tomas Klein. Team captain Nathan Nukunuku hit in four runs on a pair of singles. Kiwi batters banged out eight singles and one triple on their way to an easy win. This was a good example of the offense helping the defense, as the 4.5 inning game kept the runs against down for the Black Sox which secured 2nd place in the tiebreaker.
Game 54: Denmark vs United States 2-9
It was a sleepy start for both teams at the plate. But once the action started, it was fast and furious. Derrick Zechman got things going with a solo shot in the top of the 4th and later Chase Turner singled home Rylan Sandoval who came in to hit for Matt Palazzo. Denmark responded with two as Daniel Julenon’s single brought in the Terkelson boys. The Americans broke the game wide open in the bottom of the inning with four runs on three hits. The big blast was a three RBI triple by Nate Devine, which actually brought in four runs due to a throwing error.
In the bottom of the 6th, USA ended the game by the run-ahead rule as a result of a two out Chris Miljavac three run jack. Both teams will play in the Placement playoff round: the Americans will have their first game Saturday at 10 and the Danes will go Friday at 1:30 against Mexico.
Game 55: Philippines vs Canada 0-12
Many suspected it was going to be a long night for the Philippines pitchers as Canada has hit lights out so far. That suspicion turned out to be well founded when the Canadians jumped out with seven runs before an out was recorded. Jeff Ellsworth, Andy Skelton and Bryan Abrey hit home runs in the inning as they finished with eight runs on seven hits. An exciting piece of news for Canada was the return to the circle of Andy Skelton, who got in a couple of innings of work.
Game 56: Australia vs Mexico 3-10
The late game saw another key thrower get his first action as Andrew Kirkpatrick took to the circle for Australia. He lasted eight pitches and one batter before he walked back into the dugout is disgust and in pain. Harrison Peters took over and did not look ready, as he was called for two illegal pitches and gave up a home run to Erica Ochoa for a 2-0 Mexico lead.
Mexico piled on four more to end 1st inning up six runs. Australia fought back with three in the top of the 3rd but Mexico got a pair of two run innings to finish the game in five innings.
Ochoa punctuated the victory in the bottom of the 5th with a two run shot to end the game. Mexico looked great, but Australia could not be too disappointed as they will quickly get their mind on the Canadians and tomorrow night. Mexico will get Denmark at 1:30 in the Placement round.