The Junior Black Sox have continued their red-hot start to the Junior Men’s World Softball Championship after earning an 8-1 win over the Czech Republic in pool play this afternoon.
The New Zealand side entered today's game with two wins already under their belt after starting their campaign with victories against Hong Kong (10-0) and USA (11-1) over the weekend.
Today's contest in Prince Albert, Canada took five innings to find a winner with the Kiwis jumping out to an early lead after infielder Huw Davies scored on an error.
The Junior Black Sox then tacked on another run an innings later with in-form slugger Reilly Makea scoring on a sacrifice fly from AJ Hart.
Kaleb Rona came to the party in the fourth innings, helping Seth Gibson and Alec Carson cross the plate with his two-RBI double hit to deep left field.
With the score resting at 4-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Czech Republic relieved pitcher Vojtech Buchner from the mound with the introduction of Filip Koblizek.
However, Koblizek was given a harsh welcome to the game with Makea smashing a solo home run off him over the left field fence – Makea's second of the tournament after hitting a long ball against the US yesterday.
Junior Black Sox Reilly Makea bats against Czech Republic.
Source: Softball NZ
Things went from bad to worse for the relief pitcher after he gave up another three runs in the innings, including a two-RBI double to pinch-hitter Tobias Makisi, to end the game on the mercy rule.
Makisi said after the game he could hear plenty of support on the sideline.
"I've got mum and dad, my two brothers and my auntie," the Wellington catcher said.
"It's good to know the support is behind you and when you see their faces there, it reminds you who you're doing it for and you just want to go out there and crush it."
While the bats were loud again for the Junior Black Sox, things were a lot quieter for the Europeans thanks to a quality start from Kiwi hurler Josh Kelly.
Kelly earned six strikeouts for one run on one hit in his five innings of work.
The win keeps New Zealand tied at the top of their group alongside hosts Canada on three wins, with the two sides set to clash tomorrow at 2pm NZT.
"Maybe this has galvanised them, hearing each other's stories and knowing they are not alone," say the nurses behind the Facebook group, New Zealand, please hear our voice.