U15 Diamond Blacks outclassed by experienced AUS side

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The best teams from Oceania converged on Lloyd Elsmore Park in Pakuranga for the 2018 Baseball Confederation of Oceania U15 Championship, to see who will qualify for the right to represent the region at the 2018 WBSC Baseball World Cup.

The Trans-Tasman rivalry was heating up on the baseball pitch. However, the Diamond Blacks were no match for an experienced Australian side who were unbeaten over the weekend. 

Coach Ricky Paewai (Rangitāne) says, "I think half of our team have never played international baseball another third of them haven't actually played a full season of baseball so it's a lot of learning for the kids the game of baseball can speed up on you if you don't have that experience where everything happens second nature so each game their getting better and better and that's all we need them to do."

Baseball NZ CEO Ryan Flynn says that they're working to design a more conducive environment for Kiwi players to gain more experience.

"Our athletes are as good as anyone in the world but you gotta play more, you can't just hope to rock up against kids that have played 200 games in a season and you've played 2. You've gotta play more baseball and we have to figure that out and that's tough because small towns are rising up with just a few players, how do you replicate more baseball games something we're always trying to whiteboard and figure out."

Paewai highlights that despite the result, for these young athletes the benefits of baseball go beyond the pitch.

"It's a very disciplined sport, you look out there and you see the uniform in always tucked in, belt, everything is nice and neat and the discipline that we teach and the way we coach it helps with how they are at home we've had parents come up to us and say hey my boy cleans his room now he keeps his room nice and tidy so it's just one of those games where you have to be discipline you have to have a certain way about yourself to be successful."

Ryan Flynn says there are enough kids in NZ to produce a World Class Baseball program. 

"For a lot of them it's their first international experience ever, so of the Australian players have probably played more games than all of our kids combined, and we've got to try replicate that here but we're proud of how hard their working and they want it and we've got to deliver a program to them that helps them be great  individually and collectively for the country."

The Austrlian U15 baseball side now advance to the 2018 WBSC Baseball World Cup, while the  Kiwi players now look to re-join their regional sides in the coming months.