South Africa won the Baseball Africa Cup and will represent the Continent at the WBSC Baseball Europe-Africa Qualifying Event for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020, to be played in Parma and Bologna, Italy, from 18 to 22 September. The hosts outscored, 28-0, and outhit, 24-0, Uganda in the final.
With one out in the first, Uganda’s 19-year old starter Allan Kabenge walked catcher Kyle Botha and gave up a double to shortstop Jonathan Phillips. A sacrifice fly by left fielder Rowan Ebersohn made it 1-0.
South Africa got to Kabenge in the second with four consecutive hits that extended the lead to 3-0. After right fielder Kyron Bibis lined out, Botha followed with a monster home run to centre to make it 6-0. By the end of the inning, South Africa was leading 9-0 and Uganda had turned to 16-year old Nicholas Allimai.
The reliever could get one out in the third, then gave up four consecutive hits, including doubles by Phillips and designated hitter Dayle Feldtman.
Benard Adei took over, got the second out, but then walked centre fielder Benjamin Smith and surrendered a grand slam to second baseman Charl Cordier to make it 15-0.
South Africa’s fourth at bat took 19 hitters to the plate. Phillips entered the box three times and finally struck out against Paul Wafula to end a 13-run frame.
Uganda reached base only two times (walk, hit batter) and never reached second against South Africa’s ace Jared Elario, who earned the win striking out eight.
South Africa’s players earned both individual awards presented at the end of the tournament. Third baseman Darren Boltman earned the best hitter’s award. Catcher Kyle Botha was named the Baseball Africa Cup Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Marc Moreau, the President of the South African Baseball Union (SABU), shared with us some detail about his Country’s programme: “South African Baseball is self-funded and has very active baseball activities covering all age groups from U-8, with peewee baseball, right through to adult baseball. The activities cover general coaching, specialized coaching for our elite players and very competitive league structures at all age groups and a national baseball championship.”
The third place game was an 11-inning thriller that Zimbabwe won on a base hit by veteran shortstop Witness Muzire off reliever Hamidou Kafando.
It took Zimbabwe 16 hits, including a three-run homer by third baseman Sherperd Sibanda, and over four hours of play to beat Burkina Faso. Nathaniel Kutsanza, the fifth pitcher for Zimbabwe, earned the win.
Burkina Faso played a brave game and combined for 18 hits. They also committed five defensive errors and their five pitchers allowed 10 walks.