The Aussie Steelers have wrapped up a crucial win over Venezuela and sit second outright in Group B of the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship.
The top four teams from both groups advance in the tournament with the top two playing the bottom two from their corresponding group making this win a little sweeter for the Australians.
Nick Shailes threatened to score in his first look at the Venezuela pitching when he took advantage of a stumbling outfielder to score a triple, however couldn’t be brought home by his team mates.
Adam Folkard took the ball first for the Steelers to begin the game, he walked two batters in the bottom of the first which proved costly as a double over centre field put Australia behind early 1-0.
A James Todhunter single directly followed by Scott Patterson and Callum Beashel being hit by a pitch put Australia in an immediate position to strike back in the top of the second with loaded bases and one out.
Ryan Sinclair worked the pitcher to draw a walk to get Todhunter across to level the score, followed by another scoring play as Patterson dashed home off a wild pitch to give the Steelers a 2-1 lead, Beashel extending it again off a wild pitch making it 3-1.
Venezuela were quick to answer back with a homer over centre field to close the gap to one run but it was all they could manage in the inning.
Brendon O’Byrne found a gap up the right foul line to put Australia in a scoring position early with a lead-off double, he then stole third with another error from Venezuela’s catcher and was able to convert off a lofty sacrifice fly from Todhunter for a 4-2 lead.
Both teams played out a stalemate over the next two innings before another big shot from Shailes put another Steeler over home plate and give Australia a 5-2 lead in the top of the sixth for a little breathing room.
Folkard showed his nerve under pressure in the bottom of the sixth, striking out Venezuela while they had a runner on second and third to maintain the three run buffer.
He kept Venezuela in place for one run in the seventh to complete his entire game in the pitching circle. Despite five walks, he allowed just three runs and chalked up 13 strikeouts making the final score 5-3.
Australia take on Netherlands in the final Group game at 3:30am AEST Friday morning.