NEW ZEALAND have won the world softball championships for a record sixth time after beating Venezuela 4-1 in the final at the weekend.
It was the Black Sox’s first title since 2004, and came on the back of a stellar pitching game by Jeremy Manley at Albany’s Rosedale Park.
Captain Rhys Casley hit a three-run home run in the third, while catcher Patrick Shannon also cleared the fence.
“It’s pretty surreal at the moment,” Casley told APNZ.
“It hasn’t really sunk in – I think it will take a couple of weeks – but I’m just really proud of the guys, the way they hung in there all week.”
It was New Zealand’s fourth win the last five tournaments, with the only blip coming last time out against Australia.
It was Venezuela’s first world championship medal.
Pitching had been a worry heading into the tournament for coach Eddie Kohlase, with Manley struggling with a knee injury and snow at his training base in Illinois preventing him from working outside until arriving home.
He gave a strong preformance in relief against Australia in the first playoff game, then shrugged off food poisoning to throw seven innings without allowing a run in the semi, which was also against Venezuela.
The South Americans, playing in the memory of their president Hugo Chavez, who died last week, set up the rematch by beating Australia.
Manley gave up a run in the first, before getting into his stride.
“Jeremy pitched a hell of a game for us and kept us in it,” Casley said.
“And we had 17 other guys in there as well that kept pushing us through.”