MIDLAND, MI, USA — Japan defeated New Zealand, 2-1, in an electric finale to win the 11th WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship in Midland, MI, USA, Saturday.
The Japan Junior Men’s Softball National Team dominated the competition throughout the tournament, finishing with an undefeated record of 8-0.
The 2020 Olympic host nation regains the world title after a 25-year drought, as their last title coming at the inaugural U-19 youth edition in 1991.
The next Junior Men’s Softball World Championship will be held in Prince Albert, SK, Canada, from 7-15 July 2018.
GOLD MEDAL GAME RECAP
In a close scoring game, Japan attacked first scoring one run in the second inning when Kento Morita ripped a liner up the middle to score Hirishi Sakata. The bats were silent until New Zealand tied the game up in the fourth inning as Zac Boyd singled to center to drive in Reilly Makea for a 1-1 ball game. No more runners scored as the game entered into the bottom of the seventh inning. With one out and a tied ball game, Morita stepped to the plate to hit his second RBI of the game to drive in Taichiro Ikeda for the walk-off single and the gold medal.
ROAD TO THE FINALS
Japan did not lose in the 2016 edition of the Junior Men’s World Championship. The world softball powerhouse finished in first place in Pool B during the round robin pool play and went on to defeat the United States 5-2 and New Zealand 3-0 to advance directly to the gold medal game.
New Zealand finished in second place in Pool B during the round robin pool play. They then defeated Argentina 4-3, but lost to Japan 3-0 to advance to the bronze medal game against Canada.
BRONZE MEDAL GAME RECAP
The bronze medal game saw four lead changes, as New Zealand used the long ball to come from behind to defeat Canada. The 12-7 loss left Canada with the bronze — and improvement from their 7th place finish in 2014.
In a back-and-forth thriller featuring seven total home runs, New Zealand got on board first scoring three runs on four hits in the first inning.
Canada followed up to score four runs on four hits and one defensive error in their next at-bat to take the lead 4-3. But New Zealand tied the game up in the bottom of the inning 4-4 off a double to left field.
Another lead change occurred in the top of the third as Canada scored two runs off Alexandre Lemieux and Justin Laskowski’s home runs, followed by a Jacob Bricknell homer in the fifth for a 7-4 game.
However, New Zealand got the bats going in the bottom of the fifth as four batters — Zac Boyd, Jarome McKenzie, Jacob Zurcher, and Callum Lewis-Carson — all homered for a big 11-7 lead. The Kiwi’s added their final run in the sixth for a 12-7 win, which advanced them to the gold medal game.
The 11th Junior Men’s Softball World Championship in Midland, Michigan brought together twelve national teams from all five regions, featuring the top youth male softball athletes from around the globe.
SILVER: New Zealand
5th: United States
7th: Czech Republic
10th: South Africa