Three teams from the 2019 WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship participated in the TAB Challenge Cup in Albany, New Zealand. Held just outside the nation’s capital this February the three-day event, hosted by New Zealand’s national team - the Black Sox, included the national teams from Japan and Australia, as well as the Black Sox B team.
Ahead of the 2019 season the teams were ranked #1 New Zealand, #3 Japan and #4 Australia by the WBSC.
This was the first time for coaches and players alike to scout the competition before the WBSC World Championship in Prague this June.
The event finished with Japan on top and New Zealand in second. The Black Sox B team slid into third ahead of Australia.
Opening day the home team played all three of their opponents finishing the day 2-1. Japan took out both of New Zealand’s teams shutting out the home club 3-0.
On Saturday the men were back on the field and it was Australia’s day to work. They played four games including two against the B team who, themselves, played three on the day. Australia finished day two with a record of 1-3 having beaten only Japan in a 1-0 game.
The Black Sox played just a single game, also against Japan. The rest worked to their advantage. They finished the midday game 5-1 tying up their record against the club.
On the final day of play the two local clubs faces off while the visitors did the same. The Black Sox beat their B squad 7-0 as Japan took care of Australia 10-2.
That made the championship game a tie-breaker between New Zealand and Japan. The Black Sox entered the game 5-1 while Japan was 4-2. By afternoon’s end Japan would hoist the trophy with a 3-1 victory in the final event.
Right-handed hurler Daniel Chapman pitched two of the three games against Japan. Over his 14 innings of work he gave up 4 runs off 12 hits, including a dinger, while striking out 23 and walking 4, splitting his record 1-1.
Over all three games at the plate, outfielder Ben Enoka had 10 at bats for the Black Sox. While he went 0-3 on opening day, he had 2 runs off 2 hits with an RBI and a strikeout the second day of the tournament. In the final matchup Enoka was good for 2 hits an RBI and a walk.
On the mound for Japan Reo Koyama, also a righty, pitched two as well taking home both Ws. Reo went 13.1 innings giving up just 1 run off 8 hits while striking out 13 and walking 5.
photo by Debbie Barker Photography