Australia have secured a berth in the 2nd round of the 2009 World Cup with a hard fought 7 to 5 victory over arch rival Chinese Taipei today in Prague.
Knowing that a win against Chinese Taipei would guarantee them a spot in the 2nd round and not have to worry about beating Mexico in the 3rd game of round 1, the Aussies took control of the game early and stayed in control until Chinese Taipei begun to claw their way back in the 6th inning.
Lead by winning starting pitcher David Welch (5 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk), the Aussies jumped to an early lead, putting 4 runs on the board in the 4th inning thanks in large part to a 3 run home run by debutant Tim Kennelly. Kennelly, whose bat has been red hot so far, was also impressive in the field, throwing a runner out at the plate from right field to keep Chinese Taipei scoreless in the 4th.
The Aussie pitchers kept the Chinese Taipei team scoreless until the 6th, when with 2 out, the clean up hitter launched a 3 run home run to close the gap to one run. The Australians fought right back however scoring another run in the bottom of the 6th thanks to a Daniel Berg double and James Beresford single to score Berg.
Things then became tense when Chinese Taipei evened the score, a result of a 2 run home run in the top of the 8th inning. At this stage, the IBAF tie breaker rule begun to look like a reality with only 1 and a half innings left to play.
The tie breaker was not needed however, as hero of the night James Beresford stepped to the plate and smashed a 2 run home run to right field to score himself and Joel Naughton who had reached base on a single to left field. Beresford, who is not renowned for hitting home runs, finished the night with 3 hits and 3 RBI’s and was mobbed in the dugout by his teammates for putting the team ahead.
It was then up to Adam Bright to get the last 3 outs in the 9th inning and secure the victory for Australia. Despite hitting 1 batter, Bright pitched extremely well and after getting the first 2 outs, induced a weak ground ball to 2nd base to get the save and send the Australians to the 2nd round in Italy.
Australia play Mexico tomorrow for 1st round bragging rights before heading to Italy on Sunday morning.
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