North Shore City Win National Men's Baseball Title
- Published on Sunday, 02 April 2017 19:29
- Written by Ian McDonald
Two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning were enough to take North Shore City through to beat pre-tournament favourites Howick-Pakuranga (HP) Hawks two runs to one in an enthralling United Airlines Men's National Championship final at Lloyd Elsmore Park in Pakuranga.
In a pitchers duel between HP veteran Andrew Marck and North Shore’s Ryota Okumoto, hits and runs were hard to come by but in the fourth, Shore got on the board when short stop Joseph Kohlhase scored on an error, while tournament MVP Bradley Morris plated Okumoto on a fielders choice with Jack Fletcher out at second.
Okumoto celebrated his birthday by pitching an absolute gem, giving up eight hits, but just one run in the top of the 7th when HP outfielder Alex Hill scored after Okumoto walked Luke Hansen with the bases loaded. For HP, Marck pitched eight strong innings giving up just two hits and two walks.
In an exciting top of the ninth inning the game looked to be over when with two outs HP 2nd base Nick Koh popped up in the infield, but a clash of Okumoto and North Shore 1st base Matt Thomas saw the ball drop to the ground and when Hansen walked to load the bases, Andrew Marck struck out to end the game.
Okumoto celebrated the win by being named top pitcher over the four day tournament, pitching 14.1 innings an ending with an Earned Run Average of just 0.43, while HP Hawks 1st base Keegan Swanepoel picked up best hitter with a batting average of .571, then North Shore claimed the final individual award with left fielder Bradley Morris being named Tournament MVP.
A number of players in this tournament are going on to bigger and better things with Kohlhase (son of Black Sox player and coach Eddie) heading to college in California at San Mateo, while team mate Matt Thomas heads to Chicago this week to check out Northpark College on the north side of the city. HP Hakws pitcher Kyle Glogoski also leaves for the US this week to play in the MLB Select International team to play eight games against MLB Minor League teams and an MLB Select Puerto Rico team in St Petersburg, Florida.
In a just as exciting play off for 3rd and 4th, Orewa defeated HP Greyhawks 10-9 in extra innings to finish the tournament third.