New Zealand 4
Pitchers Penese Iosefo and Jeremy Manley combined to throw a no-hitter as New Zealand beat Colombia 4-0 to make it two wins from two at the World Softball Championships today.
The Black Sox backed up last night's 5-0 win over Mexico at Rosedale Park on the North Shore to make it two straight shut-outs and continue their perfect start to the tournament.
New Zealand were always expected to triumph over the Latin pair, with their first serious test coming against Japan tomorrow afternoon.
Coming into the championships, pitching was a concern as the Black Sox seek to win back the title they lost to Australia four years ago in Canada. But all four Kiwi pitchers have impressed so far, with New Zealand yet to allow an opponent to reach third base.
Iosefo got the start today, going four innings while striking out nine without allowing a hit, before Manley took over. The US-based pitcher was almost as impressive in his three hitless innings, striking out four.
A two-run home run from Patrick Shannon in the fourth was all the offence the Black Sox needed, while Ben Enoka hit a run-scoring double and Tyson Byrne manufactured a run in the first.
The speedy shortstop helped his side strike in their first turn at bat for the second game running, working a one-out walk before stealing second and taking advantage of two throwing errors to sneak home.
Iosefo, meanwhile, went about making that lead stand up, recovering from a four-pitch walk to the lead-off hitter to strike out six straight Colombian batters.
Iosefo found himself in some trouble in the fourth, after a walk and a Brad Rona error put men at first and second with one out, but the pitcher responded with two strikeouts to preserve his side's slender advantage.
And that advantage swelled in the bottom of the inning, with the Black Sox finally managing their first hit. An RBI double from Enoka scored Rona after the first baseman worked a walk, before Patrick Shannon made it 4-0 with a two-run homer to left field.
Manley, who came into the tournament short of practise after a knee operation, took the mound to begin the fifth and worked around another Rona error to retire the side.
He experienced little trouble in the final two innings, completing the no-hitter and setting his side up for greater challenges next week.