U23s hold their own in Adelaide
- Published on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 23:06
- Written by Anna James
Southern Districts Baseball Club played host to the round-robin tournament in Adelaide which brought out the best raw talent both countries had to offer. In four demanding days, New Zealand proved they were more than worthy of their invitation.
"This tournament has always demanded strong baseball skills and all the players in the competition have a very aggressive style of play. It was great for the younger players in my team to represent New Zealand and also experience baseball in another country; this experience will help prepare them for when they go to university in the States."
A number of Marck's teammates will compete in the college system this year, the majority on their way to Canada and the US.
New Zealand got off the a less than ideal start, falling on the first day to Western Australia 0-3 in a closely fought game, then went down 0-9 to New South Wales. Disappointed but undeterred, the gutsy team used these losses as ammunition to push back against Victoria on Saturday, securing an epic 9-7 win.
Taking out their first win of the Championship, the New Zealand U23s established themselves in the competition, with standout performances from Sam Bishop, Jamie Wilson and Nick Koh.
"It was huge for the guys to get that win under our belts but it was even better the way that we won, we came back from six runs behind which really took a great deal of guts and pride. Jun Kim got a huge double for us, which started the important rally in the 7th inning" said Marck.
Following the game, Coach John Fellet explained to the Australian Baseball Federation that it was a multi-layered success "This win is just one more step in the ladder we are climbing. Baseball has been going in New Zealand for about ten years with promotion of the game only taking off in the last two to three" noting that it is common for New Zealand to make the transition from softball and T-Ball.
"Richard Clarke and Sam Bishop are both fairly new to baseball, after switching from a very high level of softball, and they both achieved great success on the mound in the tournament. This will hopefully lead to other softball players transferring their skills into the context of baseball." Marck added.
On the third day, Marck was reunited with three of his Bandits teammates who were coaching the Queensland U23 side, with the Queenslanders getting the better of the Kiwis.
The 3-8 loss to his Australian mates was quickly forgotten, and by the afternoon, the New Zealanders were ready for a win. It was an intimidating situation - playing last year's Grand Final champions, on their own soil and with a few ABL's Adelaide Bite favourites on their side.
The determined hard playing Kiwis summoned all their strength and crushed South Australia 7-0, behind a fanatastic 7 inning shutout by Bishop, giving up only 6 hits and striking out 9 on his way to the win.
The second time round against South Australia, New Zealand were not so lucky; however this did not detract from them walking away with some monumental achievements under their belts.
"It is always disappointing losing a tournament like that and I feel like we had the depth in our team to win. There were some definite positives to take out of the tournament and I was certainly proud of the way the boys played" said Marck. And if there is anyone who can testify to the competition's standard, it's honorary Aussie Marck.
"There were a lot of our younger players that really stepped up and showed that baseball in New Zealand is really growing and we will have a good balance for the next few years." The competition has made the young team even hungrier for victory and their eyes are set on the WBC qualifiers; the tournament served as an exciting prelude for what's to come.