By Mark Etheridge
South Africa’s young baseballers may have lost all three of their games played to date at the Under 18 Baseball World Cup in Canada, but they aren’t giving an inch.
The World Cup is being played in Thunder Bay, Ontario and the South Africans only arrived two days before the tournament, meaning they would still have been battling the effects of jet lag in the first few days.
They’re drawn in the same pool as world No1’s Japan, the United States (No2), Cuba (No5), Mexico (No6) and the Netherlands (No9).
South Africa are currently occupying 29th spot on the world rankings.
South Africa’s opening Cup game was against Cuba and the youngsters went down 2-15. Their next game was meant to be Mexico but heavy rain saw that postponed.
Their heaviest defeat was against the Netherlands where they went down 3-22.
Expectations were that the game against the US would be completely one-sided but the South Africans, skippered by Jaundre Smit, fought above themselves, going down 0-5.
The team knew they were up against a true world power but refused to give an inch and excellent pitching by Mohamed Alaoui backed up by great fielding saw that the US were mainly kept in check.
After the pool games the top three teams in each pool move to the Super Rounds and then Finals.
The South Africans’ next game is against Japan on Tuesday night. By all accounts, despite not being on the same level, the camaraderie in the team is on a level of its own.
Of the 20-strong South African squad, 11 represented SA at the U15 Baseball World cup in Mexico in 2014.
It’s the first time since that the team have played an international team.