Australia Bows out of the WBC
Sunday March 10th 2006
AUSTRALIA bowed out of the World Baseball Classic last night when it lost to a star-studded Venezuela team 2-0.
While the team will not advance to the World Baseball Classic’s second round in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Australia provided the 10,111 fans at Disney’s Wide World of Sports stadium with a snapshot of its talent. Unlike its dismal 10-0 mercy rule loss against Italy two days earlier, Australia took the challenge right up to the Venezuelans.
Starter Phil Brassington and four relievers – Peter Moylan, Adrian Burnside, Phil Stockman and Tristan Crawford – held Venezuela’s offence to two runs on four hits. Venezuela’s big three bats – Bobby Abreu, Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez – were limited to a combined one hit from 12 at bats. Backed by a solid defence, Australia was right in the game going into the final inning.
Unfortunately, the Australia was unable to produce any offensive support against the five seasoned major league pitchers they faced. And, the Australians had never faced sustained barrage of pitchers who repeatedly hit the radar gun at 96 miles per hour.
Venezuela’s pitching staff, spearheaded by starter Kelvim Escobar and backed by relievers Tony Armas, Gustavo Chacin, Jorge Julio and Francisco Rodriguez, shutout Australia on one hit. The Venezuelan pitching staff struck out 13 in an over-powering performance.
Short stop Brad Harman’s third inning single was the only hit the Venezuelan pitchers allowed to complete the second straight shut out of the Australians in the World Baseball Classic.
Venezuela designated hitter Ramon Hernandez gave his country a 1-0 lead when he led off the second inning with a solo home run to left field against knuckleballer Brassington. It was one of only two hits allowed by Brassington during his four innings of work, an outing that drew high praise from manager Jon Deeble. “I thought he threw the ball fantastically,” Deeble enthused. “I think that if that game had not had the pitch count restrictions, Phil would have got better and better and better. “By the fourth inning the ball was starting to dance pretty good and he was starting to throw it past the batters. “And, he showed a lot of nerves out there and that’s the first game he’s pitched in for probably six months.”
Australia had its best opportunity to break the shackles and post its first run of the World Baseball Classic in the top of the fourth when Trent Durrington got on base on a fielder’s choice and then stole second and third base. When Justin Huber walked, Australia had runners at first and third with one out and its best hitter – David Nilsson – at the plate. But, Nilsson hit into an inning ending double play. It proved to be the last time for the game that Australia had a base runner in scoring position.
Venezuela added its second run in the sixth when Moylan walked in a run after striking out Ordonez and Hernandez to start the inning. Moylan, who hit 98 mph and repeatedly hit 96 mph, then gave up a single to Juan Rivera before his control wavered and he walked the next three batters.
Burnside, Stockman and Crawford kept the Australians in the match as they threw a combined one hit baseball over the final 3.1 innings. However, the Venezuela pitching staff more than matched the Australians as they retired the last 14 Australian batters to come to the plate.
While Deeble was dejected that Australia could not eek out a couple of runs to take the game and keep alive its hopes of advancing to the second round, he took solace from the way the team battled. Deeble said the performance was more in keeping with how Australia goes about its baseball. “That is the way we expect Australia to play. The performance against Italy was really out of character,” Deeble said.
“What we did tonight against a tough ball club was great. We need to take this to the next level and be able to come out and come back and beat these countries. “It took five front liners for them to knock us out of the game tonight, so that’s credit to our guys.
“Those guys were throwing consistently 96 mph. We haven’t seen that sort of pitching.”