The Junior Steelers have begun their quest for World Championship glory in Canada with two wins from as many games.
Competing at the XII Junior Men’s World Softball Championship in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, the Junior Steelers opened their campaign with wins against India and highly rated Argentina.
With Argentina fourth in the WBSC world rankings, one place ahead of Australia, this was an important win for the Junior Steelers.
After two days of competition Australia, Japan and Mexico remain at the top of Group B with two wins.
In group A, New Zealand, Canada and the Czech Republic are all unbeaten.
Australia’s next game is against 11th-ranked Denmark on Tuesday morning Australian time.
Game One: Australia 4, India 1
After two scoreless innings, the Junior Steelers found themselves behind when India scored a run in the top of the third, helped by two infield errors.
But that seemed to sting the Australians into action. In the bottom of the inning they scored their first run of the tournament after Riley James walked and scored on a double by Josh Bond.
When the next batter, Jett Wright, hit Australia’s first home run, the Junior Steelers had taken a 3-1 lead.
Runs proved hard to come by for either team until the Junior Steelers added an insurance run in the sixth inning. Michael Ludkin reached on an error, stole second and scored on a single by James Garland.
That capped off a great performance by Ludkin, who pitched a complete game and allowed just two hits and one unearned run, striking out 10.
Game 2: Australia 7, Argentina 2
Shaun Lanaghan produced an outstanding pitching performance to lead Australia to victory over Argentina.
Lanaghan struck out seven and walked three while allowing four hits and two runs against one of the strongest-hitting teams in the world.
The first two Australian batters were retired by Argentine pitcher Juan Jose Pepe, but then Jett Wright was hit by a pitch and Michael Ludkin homered to left-centre field to give the Junior Steelers an early 2-0 lead.
Argentina tied the game in the third inning on a one-out, bases-loaded single by Tomas Machuca.
The Aussies regained the lead in the top of the fourth inning. After Keenan Smith walked and went to second on a groundout, Dawson Summers hit the first pitch to left field for an RBI double, to make the score 3-2.
And one inning later the Junior Steelers opened the gap with RBIs by Blake Jackson, Ludkin and Bolton Nussbaum, who later scored on a wild pitch.