The final two teams are set in the Sydney Qualifier.
For the second time in this qualifying tournament, South Africa proved to be too much for New Zealand. First baseman Keenan Swanepoel went 4 for 5 and the RSA bullpen threw 4.2 innings of scoreless relief as South Africa advanced to the World Baseball Classic qualifier final against the host Australians.
South Africa put New Zealand starter John Lee on the ropes early as they loaded the bases with one out in the first inning. Right fielder Brett Willemburg then hit a ground ball to second base, but he beat the throw to first, preventing a 4-6-3 double play and allowing the runner from third to score for a 1-0 lead. New Zealand did get out of the inning with a double play, however, as they got the runner on second, Jonathan Phillips, in a rundown after he rounded third trying to score.
South Africa blew the game open when they scored four runs in the third inning. After walking the first batter, starter Lee exited the mound for Blair Johnstone, who then walked the bases loaded with one out. After a groundout scored one run, left fielder (and Twins farmhand) Rowan Ebersohn doubled home another run. Then Swanepoel's hit a two-run single to make it 5-0.
New Zealand would get back in the game when DH Moko Moanaroa hit a two-run double off the South African starter Jared Elario. But Lloyd Stevens would pitch two innings of scoreless relief and then Robert Lewis-Walker would toss the final 2.2 innings to insure a South African victory. South Africa would also get three insurance runs in the sixth inning and another one in the ninth.
The win by South Africa sets up a rematch tonight with the host Australians, who beat South Africa 4-1 on Thursday to advance to the finals in the modified double-elimination tournament. You can watch tonight's game at a much more reasonable hour, 9 pm Chicago Time tonight. Just like a West Coast game. The game will be televised on the MLB Network and available for free streaming at mlb.com.