AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Four nations — host New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and New Caledonia – will battle in the Oceania U-15 Baseball Championship at the new Lloyd Elsmore Park, with the winner advancing to compete for the world title at the IV WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup in Panama this August.

The Baseball Confederation of Oceania (BCO) continental championship opens Thursday, 18 January and will run through Sunday, 21 January.

Thursday, 18 January

  • New Caledonia v Australia at 10:00a
  • New Caledonia v Fiji at 1:00p
  • New Zealand v Fiji at 4:00p

Friday, 18 January

  • New Zealand v New Caledonia at 10:00a
  • Fiji v Australia at 1:00p
  • New Zealand v Australia at 4:00p

The top two finishers in the round-robin will meet in a best-of-three Oceania Championship Series on Saturday and Sunday.

Baseball New Zealand is the host of the first international baseball tournament of 2018, and the results from the BCO championship will be reflected in the WBSC Baseball World Rankings Presented by ENEOS.

World No. 7 Australia, undefeated in the age bracket at the Continental level, is the clear favorite but No. 28 New Zealand is playing on home turf with a National Team composed of a new generation of players who have grown up playing baseball.

“We’ve had a very long selection and trial process,” Kiwi 30 year old manager Riki Paewai said. “So I believe we assembled a squad capable of challenging for the title.” Australian born, Paewai pitched in the USA Minor Leagues and played for New Zealand in the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifiers.

Manager of unranked Fiji, Inoke Niubalavu, is taking a measured approach and says his nation’s best youth players will compete at the continental championship in Auckland to learn and gain experience.

Laurent Cassier, BCO President commented: “We extend our thanks to Baseball New Zealand for hosting this important event, and we thank the teams for their participation through which they contribute to the development of Baseball in Oceania.”

Baseball in New Zealand has been steadily increasing in popularity, growing from less than 1,000 players to now over 6,500 in a few short years, according to Baseball New Zealand officials, pushing the construction of new playing facilities like Lloyd Elsmore Park.

WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup 2018 – Qualified Nations:

  • Africa (1): TBD
  • Asia (2): Japan, Chinese Taipei
  • Americas (5): Dominican Republic, United States, 2x-defending U-15 Baseball World Cup champion Cuba, Panama, Brazil
  • Europe (2): Germany, Netherlands
  • Oceania (1): TBD
  • Wild Card (1): TBD