The New Zealand Diamondblacks have been beaten 7-1 in their opening game of the World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament in Sydney.

Starting pitcher Dylan Unsworth, a minor leaguer with the Seattle Mariners organisation, proved too good for the New Zealand hitters - breezing through eight shut-out innings to lead South Africa to the important opening game victory.

South Africa scored three runs in the third inning to take control of the game. New Zealand manager Chris Woodward opted to mix his pitching around, keeping all pitchers under the 50-pitch count that would ensure they can continue to be available to play through tournament under the WBC rules.

South Africa on the other hand leant on Unsworth, who did not disappoint, dominating the Diamondblack hitters all afternoon. He won't be available for the rest of the tournament however.

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The game blew out in the ninth inning when South Africa tacked on four runs.

New Zealand's bats finally came alive in the ninth, with Unsworth back in the dugout. They loaded the bases could only score one run.

New Zealand faces a sudden death game tomorrow against the loser of the tonight's match between hosts Australia and the Philippines.