The Junior Steelers will rue defensive lapses in the field as Japan dealt them their first loss of the WBSC U18 Men’s World Cup in Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Australia started their second game of the Super Round strong and threatened immediately, loading the bases before Japan’s pitching settled into a groove, striking out two consecutive bats to keep the Steelers scoreless.
Lincoln Walk stepped into the circle for the Steelers and duly struck out the first two Japanese bats with their third grounding out, keeping the bases empty for the inning.
Queenslander Kynan Molander again put Australia in a scoring position after a booming triple out to left field, Josh Routledge then pushed him home with a single as the Steelers took a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the second.
Momentum then drastically swung following an uncharacteristic misfield from the Steelers leading to a three-run inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the third which handed Japan the lead as they entered the fourth inning 4-1.
Another rare error from the Aussies resulted in Japan extending their lead 5-1 after a throw from home to second base trying to catch the runner stealing was wayward.
Jeremy Garland began a fightback for Australia, his bat continued to fire with a triple. He crossed home after a sacrifice fly from skipper Riley James to reduce the margin to three runs heading into the bottom of the fifth.
Jack Besgrove was efficient in his pitching to keep Japan to five runs and give the Steelers a chance of equalizing in the top of the seventh, however they were unable to improve the scoreline and went down 5-2.