Junior Steelers bounce back to sweep double-header

The Junior Steelers have plenty of fan support in Midland, Michigan.

Junior Steelers bounce back to sweep double-header

Under 19 World Championship Day three:

Australia 3, Czech Republic 2
Australia 17, Denmark 0

The Junior Steelers bounced back from a disappointing opening  game to sweep a double header on day three of the Under-19 World Championship in Midland, Michigan.

The Australians didn’t have it all their own way in the first game, having to come from behind to beat the Czech Republic 3-2.

It was a much different story in the second game of the double-header, with two pitchers combining for a no-hitter as the Junior Steelers crushed Denmark 17-0.

After the 9-1 loss to Argentina the previous day, the Aussies needed to beat the Czech Republic to record their first win of the tournament.

When the Czechs scored an unearned run in the fourth inning and took a 1-0 lead into the fifth, that ambition seemed shaky. But some speedy base-running soon changed that. Luke Ollerenshaw’s two-out single was followed by two stolen bases by courtesy runner Mitchell Woodworth, who then scored on a wild pitch to tie the scores.

Mitchell Woodworth

Mitchell Woodworth. Pictures courtesy of Lindy Rattigan

In the sixth inning, the Australians took the lead for the first time.  A walk to Alex Cleary, an RBI single by James Purcell, a passed ball and an RBI groundout by Blake Bell added up to two runs and a 3-1 lead.

Even then the game wasn’t safe, as three walks and a fielding error gave the Czech Republic a run and loaded bases. The key play of the game came when the next batter, Petr Kucirek, hit the ball back to pitcher Shaun Lanaghan, who threw home to get the out on what would have been the tying run.

Lanaghan then struck out the final batter to give the Junior Steelers their first win of the tournament.

Luke Ollerenshaw earned the win with 6.1 innings of work in which he allowed just one hit and no earned runs, with six strikeouts and four walks.

With the win in the morning game, the Junior Steelers went into the afternoon game on a high. But with only one run in the first two innings, it seemed Denmark were not going to be easy-beats.

All that changed in the third inning, when the Australians piled on eight runs. If that wasn’t emphatic enough, they repeated the dose in the fourth inning.

Remarkably, the Junior Steelers compiled the huge run total with only seven hits, none of them home runs. They were helped considerably by Denmark’s pitchers, who allowed 11 walks, including six in one inning.

Adam Talarico led the offensive charge with three hits including a triple, three runs scored and two RBIs. Mitchell Woodworth had two hits, two runs scored and an RBI. Michael Ludkin had only one hit, a double, but four RBIs.

Pitchers Dylan Sheehan and Chris Gillies did not allow a hit between them. Sheehan was particularly impressive, striking out seven and walking one in three innings.

Now with a 2-1 win-loss record, the Junior Steelers hope to build on that when they take on Botswana in the first game of a double-header overnight, before a scheduled 8am AEST game against host nation USA.