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Look Out World Baseball Classic, Australia Is On The Rise

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When you think Australia, baseball isn’t what comes to mind. To us from the U.S., it’s Hugh Jackman, giant spiders, binge watching episodes of Bluey and the need for us ‘Mericans to poorly say “Down Unda” (apologies for that). But here we are, talking Australian baseball and their hot start, taking down Korea and China in the first round of the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Historically the previous 4 tournaments of the WBC have not fared well for Team Australia, mustering only 2 wins in total and going 0-3 twice. Going home early sadly had been the norm in years past. But this is a different team. After surprising viewers with an 8-7 win over favored Korea, they crushed Team China 12-2 two nights later. That’s 20 runs in two games, putting them offensively second only to Japan of the 10 teams that have played 2 games or more thus far. And it’s country is rallying behind them, developing a growing fanbase in a nation more known for it’s Cricket than it’s Baseball.

Leading the squad includes a pair of names 1990s MLB fans will remember, including team manager Dave Nilssen who batted a career .284 in 8 years with the Milwaukee Brewers and the club’s bullpen coach Graeme Lloyd, known to us in the New York area as the stellar spot leftie reliever who never gave up a run in 13 playoff appearances and becoming the only Australian player to ever win a World Series, doing so both in 1996 & 1998. Personally, I hated when he and David Wells were traded to Toronto, but that’s a rant for another day.

Now, with two games remaining, they have a chance to do something they never have before, move onto the next round, first facing Japan at 6am EST on Sunday March 12 followed 17 hours later at 11pm EST. They know they’re on the verge of moving on, but the closer you get, the harder it becomes. Tim Atherton, longtime pitcher in the Australia Baseball League, knows their matchup against Japan on their home turf won’t be easy. “We’ve played the Japan national team a lot…So we know what we’re up against and we know the style of baseball.”

As of this moment the starters have not been announced. But given Japan’s pitching staff, the opportunity is there for this offensive powerhouse to impress the world and move on to the next round. I’ll be watching closely.

About the author – Scott Churchson has been an actor in every way for the past 13 years, from BG to stand in to stunts and principal, a sports writer for the past 4 and is one of the people that created Stream Punk Entertainment. He’s married to a veterinarian, has a cat with three working legs and is just a simple man trying to make his way in the universe.

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