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|DiamondBlacks LIVE on SKY Sport|
SKY Sport will screen LIVE coverage of all Team New Zealand games at the World Baseball Classic qualifier tournament this month as the New Zealand Senior Men's Baseball team - the Diamondblacks - compete in Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) with the aim of qualifying for baseball's equivalent of the World Cup.
New Zealand is the only unranked team invited to the tournament and they'll face the host nation, and 7th ranked nation in the world, Chinese Taipei at the Xinzhuang Stadium in New Taipei City in the first of three games.
The New Zealand Senior Men's team - otherwise known as the Diamondblacks - have leapfrogged more than 50 nations to become a Top 28 baseball nation in the world, coming into the tournament unranked on the IBAF standings.
There will be 13 current or former professional baseball players on New Zealand's 28 man roster, and the team will be managed by Andy Skeels, a manager in the San Francisco Giants organisation who was born in New Zealand.
He will be assisted by some of the top baseball men in the world, including former Arizona Diamondback 2001 World Champion and new Pittsburgh Pirates hitting coach Jay Bell, former MLB southpaw pitcher and current San Jose Giants pitching coach Steve Kline, former 18-year professional baseball veteran and current Seattle Mariners minor league fielding instructor Chris Woodward, as well as Darrell Evans, a former Detroit Tiger and World Series winner who hit over 400 home runs during his major league career.
In the past three years, the numbers of Kiwi's playing baseball has grown 300 per cent each year, and SKY Sport is delighted to have secured broadcasting rights to bring this growing sport into New Zealand living rooms.
Baseball New Zealand CEO Ryan Flynn says New Zealand is the Cinderella story of the qualifiers. "Honestly, the way we feel about this is that we couldn't get any bigger right now in the sport of baseball, playing in the World Baseball Classic.
"We do have some expectations of eyes on these boys and it's up to them to show everyone just how big this is for the country and for our sporting future for many of our young kids who can swing a bat"
World Baseball Classic Qualifiers SKY TV Broadcast details:
Thursday November 15 New Zealand v Chinese Taipei SKY Sport 2 11.00pm NZDT LIVE
Friday November 16 New Zealand v Chinese Taipei SKY Sport 3 3.00pm NZDT REPLAY
Friday November 16 New Zealand v TBC SKY Sport 3 4.30pm NZDT LIVE
Saturday November 17 New Zealand v TBC SKY Sport 2 12.00pm NZDT REPLAY
Saturday November 17 TBD vs. TBD TBC 7:00pm NZDT
Sunday November 18 TBD vs. TBD TBC 7:00pm NZDT
New zealand BAseball have played Sydney BlueSox and CAnberra in the preparation for the WBC
|D'blacks Ride Cavalry to 8-5 Win|
Diamondblacks open up 3-Game series with Win over tough ABL Canberra Cavalry team on road to WBC
The New Zealand Diamondblacks Baseball team secured a convincing 8-5 win against the Australian Baseball League's Canberra Cavalry, in their fourth warm-up game on the road to the World Baseball Classic qualifiers later this month in Taiwan.
Second baseman Alan Schoenberger paced the 8-run, 11-hit attack by singling in his first two at bats, with Te Wera Bishop doubling twice, and Daniel Devonshire adding a solo home run over the right-centre field scoreboard to add an insurance run in the fifth inning.
But it was the pitching of Howick Pakuranga Baseball Club's Jamie Wilson and Yong-Min (John) Lee that overshadowed the Diamondblacks' breakout game at the plate, as the two domestic right handers shut down the Cavalry's best professional hitters over the first six innings and limited their starting nine to just two hits.
"It was a really good game, we were able to throw a lot of strikes and had the team picking us up," starter Wilson said at the Cavalry ballpark following the victory. "I think the nerves are gone and we're ready for Taiwan."
Pitching coach Steve Kline, an 11-year Major League Baseball veteran and current San Jose Giants pitching coach, said he thought it was an exciting game and that the players are starting to click as a team. "The pitchers did great" said Kline, who believes Wellington right-hander Sam Bishop also took a positive step forward in his outing.
New Zealand stormed out of the batter's box with consecutive hits from Schoenberger, Lamb-Hunt, and a double to Scott Campbell. Devonshire reached on error to drive home Campbell as New Zealand scored three runs in the top of the first.
In the second, the Diamondblacks picked up where they left off with a single from Moko Moanaroa and Schoenberger, with Moanaroa scoring on a passed ball. The Diamondblacks then added a run in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and ninth innings to keep up the pressure.
"The team played the game they have been looking to play with the hitters getting guys over and moving runners," said hitting coach Darrell Evans, who is currently ranked 47th in the history of Major League Baseball in home runs and 8th in walks. "This was a great ball game, it's too bad everyone couldn't see this game but this is the way we are capable of playing and if we keep this up over the next couple of games we'll be ready for Taiwan".
"Tonight was the best game we've played as a team, our guys hustled all night, got big base hits with a great pitching performance," said Diamondblacks manager and Kiwi native Andy Skeels. "I was really happy about the way our guys went about their business, all around a phenomenal effort".
The Diamondblacks and the Cavalry continue the action tomorrow night at 7:05pm local time (9:05pm NZDT), and will perform the Diamondblacks' haka for the second time in front of a live audience, both at the ballpark and streaming online.