Black Sox world champs again

Second-baseman Joel Evans came up trumps when his Black Sox needed it most, smashing a grand slam home run to propel New Zealand to their seventh world softball title in Canada.

Trailling Australia 3-1 in the final, the Kiwis loaded bases, as Aussie pitching ace Adam Folkard began to tire, in  Whitehorse, Yukon on Sunday (local time).

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Wayne Laula reached base on a grounder, Folkard hit catcher Kallan Compain to gift him a base and then pinch hitter Josh Harbrow cleared the infield to fill the bases.

Initially, lead-off batter Campbell Enoka was unable to capitalise, struck out swinging, but next up, Evans made no mistake, sending the ball over the centrefield fence and out of the stadium to bring his team-mates home.

With just one inning left to respond, Australian slugger Nick Shailes also "went yard" to narrow the deficit 6-4, but it was a case of too little, too late.

Black Sox relief pitcher Nick Hayes held his nerve to secure the last three outs, striking out Brendan O'Byrne and James Todhunter, before Andrew Kirkpatrick grounded out.

New Zealand had opened the scoring in their first at bat, when captain Nathan Nukunuku's sacrifice fly-ball brought lead-off batter Campbell Enoka home.

But as Black Sox pitcher Josh Pettett began to struggle with his control, the Aussies answered with two runs in the third inning and another in the fourth to take the lead.

The Kiwis got one back in the fifth inning, when they filled the bases and veteran Brad Rona's sacrifice brought Enoka home.

They were not able to take full toll of that opportunity, though, and needed Evans' efforts in their next turn at bat to seal the comeback.

New Zealand had made 10 consecutive world championship finals, with their last victory coming under very similar circumstances against Venezuela at North Harbour's Rosedale Park four years ago.

On that occasion, captain Rhys Casley hit a three-run homer in the third innings for a 4-1 victory.

But this was their first success on Canadian soil, where the home team were defending champions entering this tournament.

The Black Sox made the final by defeating Canada 12-11 in a thriller yesterday, before Australia reduced the hosts to the bronze medal in a playoff earlier today.

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