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Black Sox clinical in fourth win

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/02/2017

New Zealand have racked up their fourth victory from four games at the Challenge Cup men's softball tournament, downing the Czech Republic 7-2 at Rosedale Park in Auckland.

The tournament begins New Zealand's build-up to their title defence at this year's world championship in Canada, and the Black Sox laid down the gauntlet early against the world No.8 Czechs.

They opened out a 4-0 lead at the bottom of the first, thanks largely to a Jovaan Hanley home run which also scored Joel Evans and skipper Thomas Enoka.

The Kiwis then added steadily to their tally, leading 7-0 at the bottom of the fourth before the Czech Republic hit back, third baseman David Mertl's home run also bringing in Tomas Petr.

But the Black Sox, resting some frontline players for their second game of the day, tightened up to keep the Czechs scoreless and wrap up the win.

They now face fifth-ranked Australia, a familiar foe coach Mark Sorenson says they won't be taking lightly.

The Australians have won three of their four matches, downing Samoa 12-3 before accounting for the Czechs 8-1 and stealing a narrow 1-0 win over Japan.

Their only loss was a 9-2 defeat to Argentina on Wednesday.

"They're sneaking along, staying under the radar, doing what's required - we certainly won't be underestimating them," Sorenson said.

Earlier on Thursday, the Kiwis unleashed an eight-run fifth inning blitz to earn a 10-1 win over world No.3 Argentina.

Ahead 2-1 at the bottom of the third inning, the Black Sox couldn't add to their lead until the top of the fifth, when they piled on eight runs, some powerful batting aided by sloppy Argentinian fielding under pressure.

Sorenson was particularly pleased with the team performance his players delivered against Argentina.

"We're really trying to work hard to play a collective team game, where everybody is working for each other," he said.

"Once we can break the dam a little bit, we want to make sure there's a full tidal wave that can come through and we're getting our runs in bunches."

The Black Sox had opened the tournament strongly with a 10-5 win over second-ranked Japan before thumping Samoa 11-1 on Wednesday.

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