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Updated: March 10, 2013
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar

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Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2013 by Marco Stoovelaar

New Zealand wins title; Venezuela dethrones Australia!
AUCKLAND (New Zealand) - New Zealand on Sunday became the new World Champion of Men Softball after winning the final against Venezuela, 4-1.

Earlier in the day, Venezuela dethroned Australia by winning 2-0, meaning the Aussies had to settle for bronze this time.

New Zealand last won the title in 2004 when the event also was organized in front of a home crowd. Back then, in Christchurch on the South Island and this thime in Auckland, on the North Island.

Game 65: Venezuela vs. Australia
In the first game today, Venezuela won 2-0 to dethrone reigning world champion Australia and become the second finalist. With the loss, Australia won the bronze medal.

Venezuela decided the game early by scoring runs in the first and second inning. In the first at bat, Iran Paez singled, moved on a sac-bunt by Herwins Querales and scored when Rafael Flores also singled. In the second inning, Franklin Gonzalez singled with one out and scored when Yeider Chirinos followed with a double.

Australia reached base several times, but was unable to score. The team was retired in order in the first and second inning, then James Todhunter and Nick Norton led off the third with a single, but three outs followed. In the fourth, Zenon Winters doubled with two outs, but stranded. In the fifth, Todhunter and Norton singled again, this time with one out, but again were left behind. In the sixth, Joel Southam led off with a single, but was eliminated in a double play and in the seventh, Todhunter singled with one out, but again a double play followed and this time meant the end of the game. Australia was dethroned as World Champion!

Game 66: New Zealand vs. Venezuela
Venezuela appeared to register another upset in the final when it took an 1-0 lead in the first inning against New Zealand. But that was to be Venezuela's lone run, while the home team came alongside and decided the game in the third inning en route to the world championship title.

In the first inning, Iran Paez led off with a triple and Herwins Querales was hit by a pitch. After a strikeout, the bases got loaded when Edwin Linares walked. Next, Paez scored on a sac-fly by John Zambrano, then two runners were left when a groundout followed.

In the first New Zealand at bat, Tyson Byrne and Brad Rona singled, but the runners stranded. In the second inning, Ben Enoka led off with a single, but was retired in a double play. The score was tied when Patrick Shannon followed with a homerun.

Venezuela left two runners in the top of the third inning, then New Zealand struck moments later. With two outs, Brad Rona was hit by a pitch, then Daniel Milne walked. Next, team-captain Rhys Casley hit a homerun to put New Zealand ahead, 4-1.

Venezuela got its lead-off hitter on base in the fifth and sixth inning, but was unable to add more runs. In the seventh, three grounders ended the game.

And so, New Zealand captured the world title for the sixth time in history to set a new record. Before the event, New Zealand shared the spot for most titles with the USA, as both had won five since the first Championship in 1966. New Zealand won its first title in 1976 when the event also was held on home soil. The second title followed in 1984, then three consecutive titles were captured in 1996, 2000 and 2004. Four years ago, New Zealand lost the final against Australia. In the 13 tournaments so far, New Zealand missed the top-3 only twice, in 1968 and 1980. That means that this was New Zealand's eleventh medal, which also set a new record, as it was tied with Canada with ten before this year's event. For Venezuela, it marked the first time that it won a medal on a World Championship.

...Raoul Machalet...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
The Dutch Men Softball Team finished the event in 14th place. None of the three European teams was able to reach the Play-Offs, but there was an European in the final after all, as German umpire Raoul Machalet was the Leftfield Umpire in the six-man crew.

The final standing is as follows:
1. New Zealand, 2. Venezuela, 3. Australia, 4. Argentina, 5/6. Canada/Japan, 7/8. Samoa/USA, 9/10/11. Great Britain/Czech Republic/Colombia, 12/13. Mexico/South Africa, 14. The Netherlands, 15/16. Indonesia/Philippines.

(March 10)

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