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Black Sox smash Netherlands on coach's birthday

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2013

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The Black Sox's master blasters gave coach Eddie Kohlhase a big birthday present tonight - and he almost received a special present from his brother.

Captain Rhys Casley, Wayne Laulu and Patrick Shannon smashed homers in an eight-run scoring spree in fifth inning as the Black Sox thrashed the Netherlands 11-0 at Albany.

They remain joint top of Pool B at the world softball championships.

The Black Sox had a superb start when Ben Enoka and captain Rhys Casley scored in the first inning. Tyron Bartorillo made it 3-0 on Tyson Byrne's sacrifice.

But the big inning came in the top of the fifth when Casley, Laulu and Shannon strutted their stuff as the Black Sox scored five runs to invoke the mercy rule.

Casley's huge hit over right-centrefield was his first hit of the tournament and Shannon broke out of a slump with his second homer of the series.

It was a great confidence booster for Casley, fielding for the first time after a shoulder injury. He also clubbed a stand-up double in the fifth to bat in two runs, which gave him four RBIs for the inning.

Kiwi Jeremy Manley threw a three-hitter and struck out 11 batters.

Samoa - coached by Kohlhase's younger brother Chris - almost upset Australia, leading the world champions 2-1 until folding under pressure in the seventh and final inning.

Asked if he'd be sharing a few of Australia's vulnerabilities with Eddie, Chris quipped: "It's his birthday today, but  we couldn't get hold of him... we had to text 'happy birthday'.''

Samoa showed Australia's vaunted pitching can be tamed by belting five hits off left-handed No 2 pitcher Andrew Kirkpatrick. Gene Robinson (triple) and Kallan Compain batted in two runs in the second inning.

But Chris Kohlhase felt Samoa's near-upset had "probably made it more difficult'' for the Black Sox and Australia's other playoff rivals.

"They are a very good team they were just a little bit quiet with the bats... but they'll learn a lot from tonight's game.''

Australia trailed 2-0 but pulled back a run in the third inning when Zenon Winters batted in Mark Harris.

But the Samoans stayed in front until the bottom of the seventh when the Australians showed some steely discipline in the batter's box. Teenage pitcher Zane Siolo walked the first two batters and reliever Thomas Enoka also issued a free pass.

Pinch hitter Nathan Jones batted in Nick Shailes with a sacrifice fly and Jeff Goolagong scored the winning run on Mark Harris' single.

Samoa had the consolation of outbatting the Australians, five hits to four.

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They now need to beat South Africa today to clinch third place in Pool B and a playoff place.

Pitcher Sean Cleary threw a perfect game, taking 10 strikeouts with conceding a hit or a walk or allowing a Colombian to make base.

Dangerman Jeff Ellsworth and Andy Skelton hammered home runs for Canada.

The United States produced their best performance in a 9-3 win over second-ranked Venezuela in Pool A. Matt Palazzo had three hits, including a home run for the Americans, and Chase Turner and John Tan each had two hits.

Tomoki Shimada and Naoaki Kawada belted homers in Japan's 4-0 win over the Philippines.

Great Britain beat the Czech Republic 10-4 after home runs by Darrin Newson and James Chalmers.

The winner of this morning's USA-Great Britain game - a modern-day war of independence - is likely to advance as the fourth qualifier from Pool A.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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