Black Sox win to seal three-game Aussie series
The world champion Black Sox have clinched the three-test softball series against Australia after a three-run home run by outfielder Campbell Makea.
New Zealand followed up last night's 3-2 first test win with a 7-3 victory at Auckland's Rosedale Park this afternoon.
Australia bounced back to win the dead-rubber final game, 2-1, after an automatic home run by Joel Southam for the first of two runs in the top of the first inning.
The Aussie Steelers' strike pitcher Adam Folkard restricted the Black Sox to three hits, with leadoff batter Ben Enoka - New Zealand's best hitter of the series - slamming a triple to score talented young infielder Jerome Raemaki in the sixth inning.
New Zealand's 19-year-old pitcher Kurt Schollum survived a shaky start to recover his composure and finish with seven strikeouts for three safe hits and four walks. The Marlborough rugby representative formed a promising battery with 20-year-old Wellington catcher Te Wera Bishop.
But the series was decided in game two. The Black Sox had two big innings, scoring three runs in second frame and another three in the third when Makea slugged the ball over the right-centrefield fence with Thomas Enoka and Josh Thompson (running for Donny Hale) on base.
Mark Sorenson's new-look New Zealand team had already leapt out to a 3-0 lead with three runs in the second inning after back-to-back hits by Raemaki and Ben Enoka following some errors and indecision by the Australian fielders.
The Black Sox felt they had been dudded out of an earlier run when Wayne Laulu was called out in a slide at home despite the Kiwi coaching staff arguing his feet had touched the plate before the catcher's tag was applied.
Laulu re-entered the game as a substitute runner for Stephen Ratu and legitimately bowled catcher Nick Norton after an outfielder's wayward throw pulled the Australian off the plate.
But the Australian Steelers struck back to tie the game at 3-3 in the top of the third with veteran Joel Southam blasting a triple to score Lewis Weldon and James Todhunter. Clean-up hitter Andrew Kirkpatrick then drove a double to the centerfield fence to bat home Southam.
The Black Sox responded in the best possible fashion with Makea's three-run shot.
They advanced their lead in the bottom of the fourth through a captain's knock by Black Sox second baseman Nathan Nukunuku to score Raemaki, who had picked up his second hit of the game off Kirkpatrick's pitching.
Regan Manley, pitching for the Black Sox for the first time since 2010, threw a complete game and held the Australians to three safe hits and three earned runs. Working in tandem with Ratu, his club and Canterbury representative catcher, Manley struck out nine hitters and allowed three walks.
New Zealand's six hits were shared between Raemaki (2), Campbell Makea, Ben Enoka and Nukunuku and late-inning pinch hitter Thomas Makea.
The Kiwi hitters in the third game were young guns Ben Enoka, Raemaki and Bishop.
Game 1: New Zealand 3 Australia 2
Game 2: New Zealand 7 Australia 3
Game 3: Australia 2 New Zealand 1