Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ex Boston farmhand's 7 RBIs keep Kiwis alive

Former Red Sox prospect Boss Moanaroa went 4-for-5 with a homer, two doubles and seven RBIs to make a winner out of 18-year-old American Jimmy Boyce (1-0) and give New Zealand (1-1) a 17-7 mercy-rule win in eight innings over the Philippines (0-2) in a World Baseball Classic Qualifier elimination game on Friday at Blacktown International Sportspark.
Moanaroa's homer, a three-run shot, came in a six-run sixth inning that helped New Zealand pull away in what started out as a back-and-forth contest. Moanaroa had tied the game in the fifth with the first of his two doubles, and the 24-year-old first baseman added a two-run single in the seventh to make it 14-7.
Leadoff hitter Eric Farris, who played for the Twins' Triple-A affiliate the last two seasons, had four hits, including two doubles, for the Philippines and was 5-for-7 during Qualifier play.
The Kiwis will face the loser of Friday's 3:30 a.m. ET game between South Africa and Australia on Saturday (2:30 a.m. ET/6:30 p.m. local) in another elimination game. Sunday's Qualifier championship game is scheduled for 2 p.m. local time (10 p.m. ET Saturday). Fans can watch all Qualifier matchups live on MLB Network, MLB.com and WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Boyce, who came on in the sixth after the Philippines took a 7-4 lead, gave up a single to start before retiring the next four batters he faced. Boyce currently attends Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, Wash., but taking the mound for his native country was a decision that will impact his prep career.
According to a story by MLB Network reporter Jon Paul Morosi for FOXSports.com, Washington Interscholastic Activities Association rules indicate that Boyce, a junior who was born in Tauranga, New Zealand, and lived in that country until moving to the U.S. in 2012, is now ineligible to play for Mount Si High School because rules prohibit student-athletes from competing in team sports with or against professional players.

Twins' farmhands lead Australia to WBC rout

Twins Minor Leaguer James Beresford went 4-for-5 with three RBIs from the leadoff spot as Australia cruised by the Philippines, 11-1, prompting the mercy rule after seven innings on Thursday in the second game of the World Baseball Classic Qualifier at Blacktown International Sportspark. Australia will now face South Africa in the winner's bracket, while the Philippines will take on New Zealand in an elimination game.
"He's a great player," Australia manager Jon Deeble said of Beresford. "He's been in professional baseball for 11 years. He hit .300 in Triple-A. We just want him to get a chance in the big leagues because he is such a bloody good player. Hopefully, that is this year."
Joining Beresford in Team Australia's rout, fellow Twins farmhand Logan Wade had two doubles and Stefan Welch went 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
Winning pitcher Steven Kent, who was signed to a Minor League deal by Atlanta in January, struck out seven over six innings, giving up one run on four hits. Kent settled down after a 25-pitch first inning in which he gave up one run on two hits. The 26-year-old lefty finished his night by retiring his final seven batters.
"I thought Kent was outstanding tonight," Deeble said. "That first inning he really battled, and he started changing speeds in the third or fourth inning. We were looking at the fifth inning, and we thought if we could just squeeze that sixth inning out ... he got through that, and that was big for us."
The teams traded runs in the first inning, as Cal State Dominguez Hills senior Brady Conlan drove in the game's first run for the Philippines with a two-out single to center. Eric Farris, a teammate of Beresford at Triple-A Rochester this past season, scored the Philippines' only run.
Welch countered with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning, and a Beresford RBI single scored Wade in the second.
Philippines starting pitcher J.R. Bunda left in the third inning with right elbow strain, and former big league left-hander Clay Rapada came on in a 2-1 game. Rapada appeared in 649 Minor and Major League games over 14 seasons and is set to retire when Team Philippines wraps up its World Baseball Classic run. Rapada allowed two runs on three hits, striking out two in two innings.
"I thought Bunda did a fantastic job. He was a little bit of an unknown for us, but he had thrown some really great bullpens," said Philippines manager Tim Hulett. "If we knew how great his sinker was -- most of the balls that were hit hard were his secondary pitches."
Trent Oeltjen chased Rapada from the game with a two-run double in the left-field gap that made it 4-1 in the fifth inning, and Team Australia batted around and added seven runs in the seventh to end the game two innings early. 
The Aussies (1-0) will face South Africa (1-0) at 7:30 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. ET) on Friday, with right-hander Warwick Saupold from the Tigers organization taking on South Africa right-hander Carl Michaels. Fans can watch the action unfold live on MLB.com, WorldBaseballClassic.com and ESPN Pac-Rim.

Mariners' Unsworth leads RSA past New Zealand

Mariners prospect Dylan Unsworth pitched eight shutout innings, scattering two hits, to put South Africa into the winner's bracket on the first day of the World Baseball Classic Qualifier with a 7-1 win over New Zealand at Blacktown International Sportspark on Thursday.
"I think everything [was working]. Just commanding the fastball, changeup, curveball, everything," said Unsworth, a 23-year-old right-hander who reached Double-A last season. "When you have a three-run cushion, you feel confident, you feel good. Honestly, all you have to do is throw strikes and everything will happen after that."
Unsworth induced 15 ground balls and retired the first 11 Kiwis he faced. He struck out the side in his final inning, striking out four overall on 89 pitches. He also retired his final 10 batters.
"He just competed. He attacked us. He came right after us with his fastball. He was able in certain counts to pitch behind a little bit. He was relentless," said New Zealand manager Chris Woodward, who is the Dodgers' third-base coach and used to coach with the Mariners. "I actually had him in Seattle, and I knew him pretty well. I love the way he competes and I wouldn't say he's got Cy Young stuff, but he's got good enough stuff to where he can pitch at a pretty high level because of his competitiveness."
Designated hitter Brett Willemburg had two hits and drove in two runs for South Africa.
South Africa was knocking on the door from the start, but New Zealand's defense kept the opposition off the board until two errors in the third inning led to a 3-0 advantage. 
In the first, New Zealand shortstop Scott Campbell went up and grabbed a line drive to end the innning, before left fielder Tim Auty made a diving catch on the dirt of the warning track to end the second with one runner on.
The defensive magic continued for New Zealand into the third, when third baseman Daniel Lamb-Hunt went to one knee and completed a double play, and it looked like New Zealand would again dodge trouble for starting pitcher Scott Cone. But Campbell's throwing error put a runner on with two outs, before Cone was relieved by his brother, Ben Cone, after 43 pitches. 
Ben Cone then gave up back-to-back singles to Kyle Botha and Willemburg, the second plating the first run. Then, after hitting Rowan Ebersohn to load the bases, a wild pitch and ensuing throwing error from behind the plate, made it 3-0. 
"We felt at one stage we should have been five or six runs up, but in a game of this nature we'll take the three and we'll have to work from there," said South Africa manager Alan Phillips.
Brandon Bouillon, who was batting at the time of the wildness, instead struck out to end the inning.
"Any time that we could put runs on the board early, it's a bit of a settling factor in our squad," said Phillips.
New Zealand's six pitchers walked seven, hit three batters and had two wild pitches. The Kiwis also made three errors, the final one coming in a four-run, four-hit ninth inning.
"I thought our pitchers did a pretty good job," said Woodward. "I thought they kept us in the game, and if it wasn't for a couple mistakes, it would have probably been a scoreless game going into the ninth inning."
Right-hander Carl Michaels is slated to throw for South Africa on Friday against Australia on Thursday. Right-hander Andrew Marck will throw in an elimination game for New Zealand vs. the Philippines.