Baseball

Mexico blanks Australia to stay unbeaten at Premier12

by Jason Coskrey

Staff Writer

The Mexican team had to travel to Japan from Mexico this week to compete in the Premier12 Super Round.

The experience should make things easier next year, because its looking increasingly like Mexico will be back in 2020.

Jonathan Jones and former Chunichi Dragons player Matt Clark each homered for Mexico, which remained undefeated at the Premier12 with a 3-0 win over Australia on Tuesday afternoon at Tokyo Dome.

“It was a very good game, both sides” Clark said. “We swung the bats a little bit better today and our pitching has been outstanding. There’s not much else you can say about that game. We played well on both sides of the ball and we happened to come out on top.”

Mexico made it five wins in five games at the Premier12. The Aussies have won just once.

“They jumped early, first pitch of the game hit a home run,” Australia manager Dave Nilsson said. “Not much you can do about that, you have to tip your hat to them. I think they pitched very well. They just got the lead and we just couldn’t get that lead back.”

The highest-placed team from the Americas (and Asia/Oceania, excluding Japan) at the end of the tournament will punch its ticket for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

“The goal for us at this event is to win the Super Round,” Mexico manager Juan Castro said. “If possible, we would love to go to the 2020 Olympic Games. But for the moment, our goal is to play our very best, and the event is still ongoing.”

Mexico, which carried over a win from the first round, is 3-0 after two games in the Super Round. The United States is the other team remaining from the Americas and is 0-2. The Americans were scheduled to face Japan Tuesday night at Tokyo Dome.

Jones was 2-for-3 with a home run and drove in two runs on Tuesday. He got Mexico on the board with a first-pitch leadoff home run in the bottom of the first and hit an RBI double in the fourth.

Clark, who spent 2013 with Chunichi, struck between Jones’ hits, connecting on a deep home run to right in the fourth.

“Just looking for a fastball,” Clark said. “I had him in a spot where I thought he was gonna throw one and I didn’t miss it this time.”

Jones added his RBI double later in the inning to make it 3-0.

Eduardo Vera was the winning pitcher for the Mexicans. He struck out five in five scoreless innings.

Australia’s Josh Guyer, who allowed one run in two innings, was charged with the loss.

“Obviously, first pitch of the game, give up a home run, is not ideal,” said Guyer. “But I had to tip my cap to him. Other than that, both teams pitched pretty well and we just couldn’t regain the lead.”

The Mexicans are now 5-0 on the field during the Premier12. The Mexican pitchers held the Dominican Republic to one run in the opener and United States and the Netherlands to a pair of runs each in the next two games. They’ve now shut out Taiwan and Australia in the Super Round.

Next up is a meeting against Japan on Wednesday at the Big Egg.

“We know Japan is a very strong team,” Castro said. “Each year in international events, they’re the kind of team that makes it to the final. So we’ll make preparations. We will adjust our strategy according to the opponent we play against and make preparations.”