So close! Junior Steelers fall to defending champs

Shaun Lanaghan was the starting pitcher for the Junior Steelers in their elimination game against Argentina. Pictures courtesy of Lindy Rattigan

So close! Junior Steelers fall to defending champs

Under 19 World Championship Day Six:

Argentina 4, Australia 3.

It was a gallant effort, but the Junior Steelers are out of medal contention at the Under 19 World Championship after a narrow loss to Argentina.

Junior Steelers

A group of Junior Steelers talk tactics.

In sharp contrast to their first game of pool play, which they lost 9-1 to the two-time defending champions, this time the Australians were highly competitive, going down 4-3 after a game that was in the balance until the end.

For the second time in the tournament, the Australians fell victim to Agentina’s gun pitcher Julian Fernandez, who allowed one earned run on five hits and two walks, with nine strikeouts over seven innings.

Australia’s pitchers were also solid, restricting the top-ranked team to just four runs on six hits. Shaun Lanaghan struck out two and walked to in his two innings of work. He was relieved by Luke Ollerenshaw, who kept his team in the same until the end, pitching five innings and allowing just one unearned run, with four strikeouts and two walks.

Hitting was always going to be tough against Fernandez. Josh McGovern’s double was the offensive highlight,  with Blake Bell, Chris Gillies, James Purcell and Jett Wright all managing singles.

The Australians were aggressive on the base paths, with Wright, McGovern and Mitchell Woodworth all stealing bases.

Plenty of Aussie support for Adam Talarico and the Junior Steelers.

Plenty of Aussie support for Adam Talarico and the Junior Steelers.

The Junior Steelers had the early lead after McGovern doubled in the first inning and scored on Wright’s single. Wright then stole second and scored on Bell’s single to give his team a 2-0 lead.

It was not until the third inning that Argentina could get on the scoreboard. Four consecutive hits, including a double, led to three runs and a 3-2 lead. That became 4-2 in the fourth inning after a single, a passed ball and an fielding error.

Needing two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to stay alive, the Junior Steelers came up agonisingly short. Sheehan reached on an infield error and went to second on an illegal pitch. Pinch-hitter Gillies singled to drive in Sheehan, but it was the last run of the game.