Steelers are the world champions
SOFTBALL: Gladstone has produced yet another world champion.
This time it's Michael Ludkin who is the vice-captain of the Australian Steelers team that has won the 12th WBSC Junior Men's Softball World Championship with a rollicking 6-1 win against Japan in Canada early yesterday morning.
Aussie coach Lain Harrow was delighted with the team effort.
"Layton Reid, Shaun Lanaghan, Brad Kilpatrick and Michael Ludkin were outstanding all week,” he said on the Softball Australia website.
"They kept the runs to a minimum and allowed our offence to go ahead and do their job.”
Ludkin played a key role with some safe hits with the bat after Ryan King and Jeremy Waters started the Aussie momentum with home runs.
It was one of King's two base hits for the game.
The Aussie youth team were simply relentless and stepped up with a brilliant display to claim its first world crown in 10 years and fifth in its history.
Steelers took the lead in the game at the top of the third innings with a solo home run off the bat of King to left field.
That was the turning point as the Steelers never looked back
Dawson Summers then connected with a pitch at the top of the zone and turned it into a double to centre field.
Japan coach Yukihiro Tanaka sent left-handed Kazuya Umibe to the circle where he replaced Yugo Kitagawa.
But Umibe couldn't avoid Ludkin to single to left field to plate Summers from second.
Waters teamed with Aussie pitcher Jacob Donaldson, who was on base, to hit a long home run to left field.
It essentially iced the game with a 5-1 lead.
Earlier in the championships, Steelers learnt its lesson after Japan got its measure 3-2 in game 34 in the group round match as Reid's pitching tore through the Japanese line-up in the decider.
He pitched a no-hitter and struck out 15 as the Steelers mowed down the world's top-ranked team.
Harrow said the young men deserved all accolades their way.
"The boys were very excited., and it was well deserved,” he said.
"They worked very hard in the lead-up and were very professional throughout the whole tour.”
Australia entered the contest after it qualified for the decider with a 4-2 win over Japan courtesy of two massive home runs by Waters and Blake Jackson.
It meant the Japanese team had to meet New Zealand and it responded with a 5-3 victory.
Australia completed the championships with preliminary round wins against India, Argentina, Denmark, Mexico, South Africa and then Canada in the quarter-final.