Watch: Black Sox crush Japan with back-to-back home runs to win Intercontinental Cup

The Black Sox have claimed the Intercontinental Cup today after a convincing 5-1 win over Japan in the final.

The New Zealand men's softball team booked an automatic spot in the final after the semi-finals were cancelled this morning due to poor weather in Prague.

The final was a tight contest with Japan drawing first blood in the third innings thanks to an RBI single by outfielder Seii Kuroiwa off veteran pitcher Nik Hayes.

But that was the only tarnish on Hayes' performance, with the Hutt Valley hurler shutting things down once again on his way to the win.

In seven innings, Hayes gave up one run on just two hits and three walks but managed to strike out eight batters.

He finally got support from the Black Sox bats in the fifth innings when young outfielder Reilly Makea delivered a single past the short stop to reach base. He was soon joined on the base paths by Joe Ferriso who was walked on two outs.

Captain Ben Enoka then delivered a clutch RBI single down the left field line to bring in Makea while Ferriso was brought in one at bat later thanks to an RBI single to centre field by Joel Evans.

The world champions then cemented their lead an innings later when Ben's younger brother Campbell Enoka made it a family affair by bringing home other sibling Thomas with a two-run home run to left field.

Makea put the icing on the cake immediately after with a solo home run to give the Black Sox a 5-1 lead to defend in the top of the seventh innings.

Hayes conducted a strike out, ground out and fly out to end the game.

The win gives valuable experience to the 17-man squad who included six rookies for the tournament ahead of next year's world championships which are also being hosted by Prague.

"This is a great opportunity to expose our young group to some of the highest quality International softball teams in the World," assistant coach Daryl Marino said earlier this week.

"As well as the quality of opposition the tour will also allow some of the younger leaders in the group to grow and build on their experiences in this environment.

"It will also give us the perfect opportunity to continue preparations moving towards the World Cup in 2019. This will include playing at both grounds that will be used for the World Cup."

With the tournament wrapped up, the Black Sox will finish their tour with an exhibition game against "Team Europe" before some members partake in the Super Cup later this month.

While the Super Cup is solely for European club teams, a number of Black Sox players have been drafted as guest players to help bolster teams looking to win the prestigious event.

Watch: The adorable moment Kiwi cyclist George Bennett gained a young fan for life

Kiwi cyclist George Bennett may have had a disappointing finish on the Tour of Spain but a video has emerged that is sure to win him plenty of fans despite the result.

Bennett finished outside the top 10 at the Vuelta a Espana but took time on the final stage to make one young fan's day.

After receiving applause from the young supporter, Bennett decided to give him an unexpected reward for his enthusiastic cheers during one of the event's climbs – his water bottle.

The moment was caught on video and shared by the boy's family on social media.

The gesture has now been viewed hundreds of thousands of times with many heaping praise on Bennett for the gesture.

Bennett may have had a disappointing finish in the Tour of Spain but he made sure he made someone else’s day. Source: 1 NEWS


Black Sox welcome back veterans in 25-man squad as attention turns from Europe tour to 2019 World Champs

The Black Sox have welcomed back a wealth of experience as well as another young pitching talent to their squad as they turn their attention from their Europe tour to next year's World Championships.

Coach Mark Sorenson has named a 25-man squad to attend a training camp in Palmerston North later this month.

All 17 players who were part of the successful Intercontinental Cup campaign in Prague last month have been included with veteran stars Nathan Nukunuku, Wayne Laulu, Tyrone Bartorillo, Josh Harbrow and Josh Pettett rejoining the squad as well.

The Black Sox used the trip to Europe as an opportunity to introduce six new caps while also getting a better understanding of the playing environment in Prague, where next year's World Championships are also being held.

"The 17 players who toured this year laid down a marker for what is required next year, but we are also excited about welcoming back some of our veteran players, and the competition for places that this will generate," Sorenson said.

"There are still a number of spots up for grabs in the World Cup squad and this camp represents the first step in making this team."

Sorenson has also included Wellington's Zac Boyd after his impressive showing at the Black Sox trials in February while Auckland catcher Harrison Valk has also been included following his strong performance with the Junior Black Sox at the U19 World Championships.

However a new face in the squad is Cantabrian pitcher Ben Watts.

Watts impressed at the National Open Clubs tournament earlier this year, guiding Papanui to the final before they were taken down by Nukunuku's Mount Albert Ramblers.

It's hoped Watts' selection will "bring plenty of heat to the pitching roster" and "further their depth".

The squad will assemble in Palmerston North from October 26-28.

Black Sox: Pita Rona (North Harbour), Benjamin Enoka, Campbell Enoka, Campbell Gibson, Cole Evans, Daniel Chapman, Eruera Drage, Harrison Valk, Kallan Compain, Nathan Nukunuku, Rhys Evans, Thomas Enoka, Zane Van Lieshout (Auckland), Joel Evans, Joseph Ferriso, Nikki Hayes (Hutt Valley), Jerome Raemaki, Josh Petitt, Wayne Laulu, Zac Boyd (Wellington), Ben Watts, Jackson Watt, Joshua Harbrow, Reilly Makea, Tyron Bartarillo (Canterbury).

Junior Black Sox Reilly Makea bats against Czech Republic.
Junior Black Sox Reilly Makea bats against Czech Republic. Source: Softball NZ


Watch: Aussie rookie leaves NFL commentators perplexed with use of drop kicks

An Australian kicker playing his first season in the NFL caught the attention of commentators in today's game between the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears by introducing a rugby technique to the sport.

Rookie punter Michael Dickson left ESPN commentators Joe Tessitore and Jason Witten stunned after he performed drop kick kick-offs in the Seahawks' 24-17 loss.

"A drop kick kick-off?" Tessitore asked.

"We are going to send our stat folks into overdrive here, but I'm going to put it out there.

"You tell me the last time you ever saw a drop kick kick-off in the NFL?"

"I don't know if it ever happened Joe," Witten, a star tight end for the Dallas Cowboys for 15 years, replied.

Veteran Sebastian Janikowski usually kicks off for Seattle and uses a tee but coach Pete Carroll, who is known for using non-traditional methods, gambled with Dickson's rugby method.

With 14 seconds left in the game and the Seahawks needing a touchdown to tie, the Aussie attempted a short drop kick hoping his team would recover.

They didn't and the Bears held on for the win, leaving Seattle without a win in their first two games of the new season.

"We're still a work in progress," Carroll said.

"You tell me the last time you ever saw a drop kick kick-off in the NFL?" ESPN's Joe Tessitore said. Source: SKY


'This is bigger than boxing' – SBW motivated by charity ahead of next fight

All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams says his next jaunt into the boxing ring is all about charity, rather than his reputation within the sport.

Williams, 33, will fight Australian reality TV star Stu 'The Bachelor' Laundy in Sydney on December 1, with all funds raised to go aid homeless in Australia and New Zealand.

Speaking to media in Auckland today, Williams revealed his motivation for the bout.

"This is bigger than boxing," he began.

"I'm just humbled by Stu and Max (Markson, promoter) coming to me and asking if I want to be a part of it.

"Understanding that Bill Crews (of the Exodus Foundation) and the Auckland City Mission have big parts to play in that, that's what we're trying to do and raise funds for."

The All Blacks star will face Stu 'The Bachelor' Laundy on December 1. Source: 1 NEWS