Aussies shock Mexico with 10-run rout
Team from Down Under breaks Classic record with 22 hits
By Christopher Ramirez / Special to MLB.com
Twins prospect Luke Hughes hit the first of four home runs by Team Australia. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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MEXICO CITY -- Sitting just beyond the fence in right-center field at Foro Sol Stadium are sections of a concert stage. Built in 1993, the venue was originally intended solely for music events. It was modified for baseball in 2000, but there was Australia on Sunday night, playing the Classic hits.
Australia rolled to a 17-7 win in eight innings against host Mexico in its opening game of the 2009 World Baseball Classic and in the process set a new tournament record for hits in a game with 22. The previous mark of 18 was reached by the United States in the 2006 event.
"We weren't looking to be perfect," Australia manger Jon Deeble said. "We were looking to have quality swings. We didn't go out there to hit home runs. That wasn't our game plan."
Australia was, however, quality from the start.
In the top of the first inning, leadoff hitter Trent Oeltjen smacked a hit up the center barely past Mexico starter Oliver Perez, which set the stage for Luke Hughes to send a 2-0 pitch into left field for a home run and a two-run Australia advantage.
Chris Snelling made it back-to-back home runs in the next at-bat, moving the many Mexico fans in attendance from disbelief to shock.
But Australia's lead didn't last long. Mexico tallied five run in the bottom of the first, four of which came off the bat of Jorge Vazquez. Vazquez sent a grand slam more than a dozen rows into the left-field stands.
With all the offensive production, it wasn't surprising that neither starting pitcher lasted deep into the game.
Australia's Craig Anderson was the first to be replaced, getting the hook two batters into the second, allowing six runs, five earned, on six hits.
Perez didn't last much longer, as he was chased in the top of the third without recording an out after giving up seven hits and four runs while striking out five.
Though Australia didn't collect a hit in the the third or fourth innings, it remained resilient. Three runs on five hits in the fifth knotted the score at 7. Then, a frame later, the Aussies took lead, scoring three runs despite playing with two outs.
Catcher Andrew Graham's single into center field allowed Brett Roneberg to score from second standing up, and pitcher-hitter Daniel Beresford's single to left field drove in Brett Harmen.
The Australia hit parade continued for the duration of the game, and it took its toll on the Mexico bullpen. It took four Mexican pitchers to get through the sixth inning alone.
Australia continued to pile on in the seventh, pushing the score to 14-7. Snelling belted his second home run, and in perhaps summing up Mexico's struggles, Andrew Graham hit a grounder toward second that rolled underneath the glove of Edgar Gonzalez all the way to the outfield wall.