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Kiwis punch ticket to qualifier finale

Kiwis punch ticket to qualifier finale

Kiwis punch ticket to qualifier finale
XINZHUANG, Taiwan -- After a 4 1/2-hour rain delay, New Zealand defeated an error-plagued Philippines squad in a tense, 10-6, win Saturday for the opportunity to play against favorite Chinese Taipei in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier final.

Shortstop Scott Campbell led the New Zealand offensive attack, going 2-for-3 with a double, three RBIs and a run scored. First baseman Boss Moanaroa knocked in a pair of runs.

The Holdzkom brothers, John and Lincoln, made crisp pitches at critical moments to help the Kiwis to victory. John was credited with the win after fanning three in 1 1/3 innings of relief of starter Andrew Marck, who exited with two on and none out in the second.

Although the Philippines initiated the scoring in the second thanks to an error, John Holdzkom struck out three in the frame with his slider and 93 mph fastball to avoid any further damage.

John Holdzkom, who played this past season for the Reds' Class A Bakersfield Blaze affiliate, was replaced before reaching 30 pitches, apparently an attempt by the New Zealand coaching staff to make him available to pitch against Chinese Taipei on Sunday.

Lincoln Holdzkom was brought to the mound in the bottom of the eighth after the Kiwis surrendered four runs in the frame on two singles, two throwing errors, and two walks. Lincoln Holdzkom immediately coaxed an inning-ending double play and tossed a perfect ninth for the save.

New Zealand manager Andy Skeels said that although his club got "sloppy" in the bottom in the eighth, he was still happy that the team delivered a generally balanced performance.

"We had a little bit of everything -- momentum swings and a lot of great pitching for a big part of the ballgame," Skeel said. "Overall, we ran the bases well ... We are very, very pleased."

A string of errors by Filipino infielders, particularly first baseman Leighton Pangilinan, contributed to a tough loss.

After the Philippines scored in the second, New Zealand soon overturned the game in the top of the third, scoring three runs on two defensive errors. Pangilinan's failure to step on the base when receiving a throw following a grounder by Moko Moanaroa opened a forgettable inning for the Philippines. Max Brown then singled to the right field and sent Moanaroa to second. Alan Schoenberger singled, loading the bases for the Kiwis.

A critical error by shortstop Ryan Pineda on a toss to second base allowed two runs to score . A sacrifice fly from Campbell brought home another run for the Kiwis in the inning.

New Zealand again took advantage of their opponent's pitching and defensive struggles in the fifth inning. A wild pitch by starter Charlie Labrador and another fielding error by Pangilinan contributed to three runs for the Kiwis.

In the top of the seventh, catcher Chad Nacapoy's failed attempt to catch Schoenberger stealing second allowed Moko Moanaroa to score a run from third. Campbell then singled to deliver another run.

New Zealand know that they are in for a tough test vs. Chinese Taipei on Sunday. They were crushed by the host team, 10-0, on Thursday. Lincoln Holdzkom was responsible for the loss in that game.

However, Skeels sounded an upbeat note, saying that his team is ready to face Chinese Taipei again following two comfortable wins against Thailand and the Philippines.

"We're going to have to play a very tight game," Skeels said. "We're going to have to pitch well, we're going to have to get some big hits. We're going to have to execute on defense. We are going to [have to] play a good game to beat these guys. Coming off the last two games, our team's got a lot confidence."

Debby Wu is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["world_baseball_classic" ] }
{"content":["world_baseball_classic" ] }