The NSW Country team which includes five Illawarra stars have won their first under 18 Baseball National Youth Championship at Blacktown International Sports Park.
The Country team won 10 off 11 games including a clean sweep of the four-team finals and a 4-1 win over Victoria in the grand final.
The 10-day championships featured the top baseballers from across all states with NSW Country’s only defeat against last season’s grand finalists Western Australia in the round robin stage.
NSW Country finished top of the ladder and then beat arch-rivals NSW Metro, Victoria and Queensland in the top four finals, before a three run win over Victoria in the gold medal decider.
Country pitcher Mitch Inskip collected the top individual pitching award - The Golden Arm - for an outstanding personal performance and picking up the win the final.
NSW Metro’s Harry Fullerton won the Gold Glove for his slick fielding. Big hitting South Australian catcher Jordan McArdle won the Golden Bat and the prestigious Most Valuable Player award went to Oliver Dunn with the Victorian ranking highly in all hitting, pitching and fielding categories.
Country as a collective pitching group had an ERA of just 1.78 for the carnival through their 11 games - well clear of the Victoria’s second best pitching ERA of 3.36.
NSW Country’s defence was also a difference-maker, with the team making just 12 errors in 334 chances through the championships.
Top Illawarra pitching prospect Alex Osborne threw a complete seven innings game to spearhead Country to a semi-final win over NSW Metro in one of the top pitching performances.
Wests Cardinals Travis Xuereb worked 7.1 innings through three games and did not give up a run in a brilliant effort.
Cardinals junior and senior players Joel Thompson (outfield/designated hitter), Alex Fisher (centrefield) and Jacob Krkovski (first base) were in the starting line-up each game and finished amongst the top batters at the championship.