Steelers coach sees positive signs at World Championship

Lewis Weldon takes a big swing against Canada. Picture courtesy of Maddy Flanagan

Steelers coach sees positive signs at World Championship

Aussie Steelers Head Coach Laing Harrow says his team “let our guard down” against Canada, turning an early 4-0 lead into an eventual 9-4 defeat.

The Aussie Steelers experienced mixed fortunes on a tough day at the XV Men’s World Softball Championship yesterday.

On a chilly day in the remote Canadian city of Whitehorse, Yukon, the Steelers had an early start against the Dominican Republic thanks to a rainout the previous day. They then had to wait until the final game of the day to face host nation Canada.

Harrow said the Steelers had given themselves every chance against Canada after a strong offensive second inning  led by Andrew Kirkpatrick and Brendan O’Bryne. “But we let our guard down and let them straight back in the game and did not regain the momentum.

“We showed some very positive signs with our offence, had our chances to put more runs on the board but failed to take the opportunities that were presented.”

Australia 2, Dominican Republic 1

This was a classic pitchers’ duel, with the Steelers coming out on top 2-1 thanks largely due to a dominant performance by pitcher Andrew Kirkpatrick.

With Dominican pitchers Melvin Cruz and Yan Carlos Gonzalez also in great form, the game was in the balance until the final out.

Harri Peters

Harri Peters pitches against Canada.

After two scoreless innings, the Aussies hit the scoreboard when Brendon O’Byrne walked and scored after a sacrifice bunt by Hayden Mathews and a throwing error by a Dominican infielder.

Nothing changed until the fifth inning, when the Steelers doubled their lead as O’Byrne reached on an error, stole second and scored on James Todhunter’s single.

The Dominicans drew closer with a solo home run by Elias Valerio in the seventh inning. But that was the only run that Kirkpatrick would allow. In a dominant performance, Kirkpatrick struck out 15 batters and walked only one.

Canada 9, Australia 4

In sharp contrast to the earlier contest, both teams in the night game showed off their power hitting.

After a scoreless first inning, the Steelers launched an offensive assault in the top of the second. It started with a leadoff single by Andrew Kirkpatrick, who went to second on Liam O’Leary’s walk and scored on a base hit by Mark Harris. Then Brendon O’Byrne’s massive three-run homer to left field gave the Australians a 4-0 advantage.

But the lead did not last long. Canada’s Ryan Boland tied things up in the bottom of the second inning with a grand slam that made the score 4-4. Then an RBI single by Derek Mayson in the third inning gave the host nation a 5-4 lead.

Things got even worse for the Steelers in the fifth inning as Canada piled on four more runs on an RBI single by Mayson and a three-run homer by Mark Johnson.

The Steelers are now third in the Pool A standings with a 3-2 win-loss record. Their next assignment is against second-placed Argentina, who are 4-1 after beating tournament newcomers India today.

Results, stats, schedule and pictures at the tournament website