07/07/2018 - 15/07/2018

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Japan, Australia, Argentina and Mexico advance to playoffs at WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship’s Group A

Japan, Australia, Argentina and Mexico advance to playoffs at WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship’s Group A

Japan finished unbeaten at top of the Group A, followed by Australia (5-1), Argentina (4-2) and Mexico (3-3).

After 21 round robin games, the defending World Champion Japan clinched the top spot of the Group A with a 3-2 victory over Australia, in one of the best games of the tournament. Early in the morning, Argentina defeated India, 9-0, to take the third place in the group, while Mexico beat South Africa by a score of 9-1 and became the las invited to the playoffs.

The best two teams in Group A clashed in the last game of the roud robin, with the first place of the group at stake. And Japan took the win over Australia, 3-2, in a very exciting game.

The Asian team took the lead in the top of the third with two aggressive baserunning plays by Hiroki Chikamori. The left fielder led off the inning with a single to center field, and advanced to third with a single off the bat of short stop Hiroshi Sakata. Then, Chikamori scored on a short sacrifice fly by Yoshiki Sugiyama, in another display of speed.

Australia answered and tied the game in the bottom of the same frame. Dawson Summers hit hard line directly to the pitcher’s foot that bounced into the right field grass for a double. Then he advanced to third on a grounder, and finally scored on an infield hit by Jeremy Waters, who beat the throw in a very close play at first base.

In the top of the fifth Rikuya Iwamoto reached first on an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error by pitcher Bradley Kilpatrick, who sent the ball directly to right field. Then Iwamoto advanced on a wild pitch and finally crossed home plate on a single off the bat of Sakata.

And one inning later Japan added one more, with a solo shot off the bat of Koki Sato. The catcher found a pitch in the zone and hit a line drive that cleared the fences to score what would be the winning run.

However, in the bottom of the seventh, Australia made it interesting. Christopher Plain drew a walk with one out, and Ryan King smacked an opposite field line drive that hit in the top of the fence and bounced into the field, inches away of becoming a game-tying, two-run home run.

After that play, Japanese pitcher Kaito Miyamoto struck out Blake Jackson and Joshua Bond to clinch the win.

Tomorrow Japan will face New Zealand and Australia will play against host Canada, in the beginning of the playoffs round.

Japan’s star middle infield: shortstop Hiroshi Sakata and second baseman Rikuya Iwamoto

Argentina defeated India by 9-0, and advanced to the playoffs as the third seeded team in Group A, with a record of 4-2. The South American team had a one-run lead through the sixth, when the bats came alive to open the gap.

Argentina loaded the bases in the top of the first inning, but only could score one run, on a wild pitch. But the right handed pitcher Gaurav Chaudhari escaped the jam with a strikeout and two groundouts.

Gaudhari and Marcelo Martinez went hitless by four consecutive innings; in the fifth both teams got their first hit of the game, but both runners were stranded on base.

Argentina added two more runs in the top of the sixth, on a solo home run off the bat of Alejo Muñoz to righ field, and a pair of errors that allowed Tomas Machuca reach and then score.

Finally, in the top of the seventh, Argentina exploded with six runs, including a pair of two-run home runs by Lucio Retamar and Matias Molaro, to clinch the victory.

Marcelo Martinez earned the win in a one-hit, six-inning effort, with 7 strikeouts and 2 walks.

With this win, Argentina secured its spot in the playoffs as the third place in Group A.

India’s Chaudari fields home plate against Argentina

Mexico clinched its spot in the playoff with a 9-1 victory over South Africa to close the group stage as the fourth team in Group A, with three wins and three losses. The African team ended in the sixth position in Group A, with a 1-5 record

The Mexican offensive started strong in the first two innings of play, scoring four and five runs respectively to secure the game from the beginning.

The only South African run of the game came in the top of the fourth. Reece Nyland doubled to left field and then scored on two consecutive wild pitches.

In the defensive end, Jose Felix pitched three hitless innings with 2 base on balls and 5 strikeouts. Ruben Minjares worked in relief for the next two innings, allowing 2 hits and 1 run, with 3 strikeouts.