14 Feb 2016

Diamond Blacks knocked out in Sydney

6:43 am on 14 February 2016

The New Zealand men's baseball team has been knocked out of the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Sydney.

South Africa beat the Diamond Blacks 9-2 at Blue Sox Stadium.

Naoyuki Shimizu at Diamond Blacks training, Llloyd Elsmore Park, Pakuranga, Auckland, New Zealand. 4 February 2016. Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Naoyuki Shimizu at Diamond Blacks training Photo: Photosport

The South Africans, who had already thrashed the New Zealanders 7-1 on the first day of the tournament, go on to play hosts Australia in Sunday's final.

The Diamond Blacks had already faced a sudden-death knockout against the Philippines in their second game in the qualifying competition, which they won 17-7

But they went behind early and South Africa kept the offence coming throughout the match-up, also taking advantage of 10 walks from the New Zealanders.

The Diamondblacks had fought back with a two-run double in the fourth innings from former Boston Red Sox prospect Moko Moanaroa, but the South Africans added four runs in the fifth, highlighted by a two-run single from first baseman Keegan Swanepoel, his second of four hits.

South African catcher Kyle Botha then cleared the bases in the sixth with a two-out double to give his team a six-run advantage.

Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Gift Ngoepe walked in the ninth run of the night for South Africa in the ninth inning to extend his squad's lead.

Jared Elario got the start for South Africa and the 27-year-old right-hander went 4 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on just two hits, walking five, hitting one and striking out three. Righty John Lee took the hill for New Zealand and gave up two runs on three hits with three walks and a strikeout in two frames of work.

South Africa's pitching staff gave out seven free passes to bring the walk total in the game to 17, the tournament beginning to show some wear and tear on the arms with another game left to play for the South African side.

The winner will return to the WBC next year, at a location to be announced next month. Big-league southpaw Travis Blackley will start for the Australians, with Kyle Gaddin on the hill for visiting South Africa.

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