Contested for the first time since 2015, the Under-18 Oceania Baseball Championship featured five nations and had plenty of surprises along the way. The winner would qualify for the Under-18 World Cup in Gijang, South Korea, later this year, while the others were ensured at least five valuable ranking points. Guam hosted and Guam Major League’s Mark Colby provided constant updates to its Facebook while also serving as announcer, scoreboard operator, and running the press box.
Despite a proclamation that the New Zealand side was ‘probably the best ever assembled’, it was American Samoa who surprised. Flush with Americans with university scholarship offers, it breezed through the opening round, defeating Australia in a one-run contest before setting down the Diamondblacks. Australia did, however, pitch the first no-hitter in U18 Oceania history. Pool play was marred by ineligible players used by Palau, which appeared to have misunderstood eligibility rules.
Rain played havoc with the final few days of the tournament, but not before a surprising twist in the semi-finals. After Australia smashed American Samoa, 16-0, Guam took advantage of an error-plagued New Zealand to eliminate the Kiwis. Following a modified double-elimination bracket, American Samoa then blasted Guam to advance to the championship.
Torrential rain prevented the game from being finished, with Australia up 5-0 in the fourth. According to tournament rules, the final standings defaulted to the situation before the game and Australia was pronounced the winners for at least the third straight time. No nation other than Australia has ever represented Oceania in the Under-18 World Cup or its predecessors.
No awards were given. All games were scheduled for seven innings and games are listed below with local start times. Local time in Guam is CEST + 9 and US Eastern + 15.
7 pm Guam 7 – Palau 0*
* Palau actually won the game by a score of 5-2, however, they were forced to forfeit after it was discovered that 3 of their players had exceeded the age limit
11 am American Samoa 13 – Palau 2 (5)
3 pm American Samoa 5 – Australia 4
7 pm New Zealand 13 – Guam 3 (6)
11 am New Zealand 7 – Palau 6 (8)
3 pm New Zealand 4 – American Samoa 8
7 pm Australia 11 – Guam 0**
**Combined no-hitter for Australia, first in U18 Oceania history.
25 January (Rain delayed start of games by 2:30 hours, then played with 2 hour limit)
1:30 pm Australia 10 – New Zealand 0 (5)
4 pm Palau 1- Australia 11 (5)
7 pm Guam 6 – American Samoa 7
By the Numbers (Pool Play) R H E
American Samoa 33 28 11
Australia 36 34 5
New Zealand 24 28 8
Guam 16 5 8
Palau 9 9 5
26 January (Semifinals)
(a) 1 pm No 1 seed (American Samoa) 0 – No 2 seed (Australia) 16 (Mercy rule walkoff in 7)
(b) 6 pm No 3 seed (New Zealand) 6 – No 4 seed 11 (Guam)
27 January (Medal Games)
Bronze medal game: (c) 12 pm loser (a) [American Samoa] 15 – winner (b) [Guam] 6
Championship game: 5 pm winner (a) [Australia] – winner (c) [American Samoa]: Cancelled due to rain with Australia leading 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth.
American Samoa 5-1
New Zealand 2-3