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Strong finish seals Black Sox win

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/02/2017

The Black Sox have begun their build-up to this year's softball world championship in Canada with a seesaw 10-5 win over world No.2 Japan at Rosedale Park in Auckland.

Currently ranked first in the world, the New Zealanders had to stave off a late comeback from Japan after cruising to a 5-0 lead after five innings.

Japan had earlier edged third ranked Argentina 6-4 in the opening game of the six-nation Challenge Cup tournament, but struggled for traction against the Black Sox.

The New Zealanders looked comfortable at 5-0 ahead, but Japan stormed back in the sixth to level the scores.

The Kiwis stepped up in reply, a Ben Enoka triple bringing home Jerome Haretuku before Joel Evans batted in Enoka to restore a small margin of safety.

Cole Evans, who had already cleared the fence to kickstart New Zealand's game in the second inning, slashed a single to left field to bring in Tom Enoka then Josh Harbrow batted in Wayne Laulu to give the Kiwis a four-run lead.

Alfons Oveinikovas completed the rout for the Black Sox, clubbing a single to bring in Evans and give the home team a deceptively comfortable victory.

Black Sox coach Mark Sorenson was happy with the win and the way his team worked their way back into the match after Japan equalised.

"The pleasing thing from our aspect is that we answered back," he said afterwards.

"That's one of the targets we've set ourselves this week - if the opposition score a run, how tough are we?

"We need to answer back and five runs, five hits in a row was probably a good statement. But there's a few things to work on."

Earlier, world No.5 Australia looked comfortable in shrugging off 12th-ranked Samoa 12-3.

In the second mid-afternoon match, Argentina bounced back from their defeat against Japan to down the Czech Republic 4-0.

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