Managers, rosters and game schedule announced for Sydney Qualifier

Qualifier opens with doubleheader on February 11th, featuring South Africa vs. New Zealand and Philippines vs. Australia

World Baseball Classic, Inc. (WBCI) today announced the managers, rosters and game schedule for the Sydney, Australia Qualifier, which will be played February 11th-14th at Blacktown International Sportspark. The winner of the Qualifier, which features Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa, will advance to compete in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, the fourth installment of the baseball tournament featuring many of the world's greatest players.

The Qualifier will open on Thursday, February 11th with a doubleheader featuring South Africa vs. New Zealand, followed by Philippines vs. Australia.
 
The host team Australia will be led by manager Jon Deeble, who will serve in this capacity for the fourth time during WBC play. In the three previous installments of the event, Australia has combined to go 1-8, with the lone win coming in a 17-7 defeat of Mexico in 2009. The 28-man roster features nine players affiliated with Major League Clubs, including right-handed pitchers Sam Gibbons (MIN), Peter Moylan (KC), Warwick Saupold (DET) and Todd Van Steensel (MIN); left-handed pitcher Steven Kent (ATL); catcher Matt Kennelly (ATL); infielders James Beresford (MIN) and Logan Wade (MIN); and outfielder Aaron Whitefield (MIN).

New Zealand will be managed by former Major League infielder Chris Woodward, who served as a base coach for the team during the Qualifying Round of the 2013 WBC. New Zealand went 2-2 during the 2013 Qualifier, which marked the country's debut in the WBC, and was defeated by Chinese Taipei in the pool's final game. The team will feature two affiliated Major League players, including left-handed pitcher Nick Maronde (CLE) and outfielder Max Brown (ARI).

Tim Hulett, who currently serves as the manager of the Texas Rangers' Single-A affiliate Spokane Indians, will lead the Philippines in the country's second appearance in a WBC Qualifier. The Philippines made their WBC debut during the 2013 Qualifying Round and went 1-2 with the victory coming in an 8-2 defeat of Thailand. The team will feature two affiliated Major League players, including catcher Brad Haynal (MIA) and infielder Angelo Songco (LAD).

South Africa will be skippered by Alan Phillips, who was the team's bench coach during the 2013 Qualifier. In addition, Phillips was a pitcher for the South African national baseball team during the 1998 Baseball World Cup in Italy and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. South Africa, which defeated France, 5-2 in 11 innings during the 2013 Qualifier, has combined to go 1-7 in three WBC appearances, including 0-5 in the main tournament. The South African team will feature three affiliated players, including right-handed pitchers Callan Pearce (MIN) and Dylan Unsworth (SEA); and outfielder Rowan Ebersohn (MIN).

Following the Sydney Qualifier, additional Qualifiers will be held at Estadio B Air in Mexicali, Mexico on March 17th-20th (Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua); Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City, Panama on March 17th-20th (Colombia, France, Panama, Spain); and MCU Park in Brooklyn, New York on September 22nd-25th (Brazil, Great Britain, Israel, Pakistan).

The Qualifiers will feature a six-game, modified double-elimination format. The composition of the pools was determined after venues were selected, with consideration given to competitive balance, existing rivalries and each national team's geographic location.

The winners from each Qualifier will advance to the World Baseball Classic tournament, scheduled for March 2017. Those four teams will join the 12 countries - Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela - that received automatic invitations based on their performance in the 2013 tournament.

The Qualifiers were originally introduced prior to the 2013 World Baseball Classic, when Qualifiers were held in Panama City; Regensburg, Germany; Jupiter, Florida; and Taipei, Taiwan during the fall of 2012. The inaugural World Baseball Classic was held in 2006 prior to ensuing editions in 2009 and 2013. 

About World Baseball Classic, Inc.
World Baseball Classic, Inc. (WBCI) is a company created at the direction of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to operate the World Baseball Classic tournament. The tournament, which is sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), is supported by MLB, the MLBPA, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), their respective players associations and other leagues and players from around the world.

About the World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic is the premier international baseball tournament, sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), as the sport's official National Team World Championship, and features the best players in the world competing for their home countries and territories. More than 2.4 million fans from all over the world have attended the tournament games, held in March 2006, March 2009 and March 2013. Team Dominican Republic is the reigning World Baseball Classic Champion after going undefeated during its 2013 championship run. The upcoming World Baseball Classic will be played in March 2017 and will again feature the greatest baseball-playing nations in the world. The tournament will be held every four years thereafter.
 
About the World Baseball Softball Confederation
The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) is the global governing body for the sports of baseball and softball resulting from the merger of the International Baseball Federation and International Softball Federation in 2013. WBSC governs all international competitions, including Premier12, World Baseball Classic and the Baseball World Cups, which involve any of the National Teams of its 208 National Federation members in 141 countries and territories worldwide.