Australia has won its second WBSC Men's Softball World Championship trophy, after topping Canada 5-2 in Auckland, New Zealand.

The Steelers last claimed gold at the event back in 2009 (in a 5-0 win over New Zealand), meanwhile Canada had previously won it four times, with the most recent victory coming in 2015.

While there wasn't much separation on the world rankings between Australia and Canada, sitting at fourth and third respectively, the former team's path to the gold medal match - and ultimately the Championship - was reflective of creating a historic campaign.

Australia finished second in Group B with a 4-1 record. The team's only defeat was to Canada - who was a perfect 5-0 and finished atop the group -, who shut Australia out with a 6-0 result.

In the Super Round, it was again Canada and Australia who finished in the top two spots at the end of this stage of the tournament. Although Canada lost 5-4 to world number one Argentina either side of wins against the United States and Cuba, it was enough to hold a 4-1 win-loss record against Super Round opponents and qualify.

For Australia however, who sat in third place on the Super Round standings heading into the final matchup of before the medal games, the team needed to beat Argentina, with each team also locked on run differential.

Against Argentina, it was an even encounter, still 0-0 after seven innings. However, heading to extras, Australia pulled through with two runs at the top of the eighth inning before shutting Argentina in the bottom half to book a place in the gold medal match.

In the gold medal match, Australia got off to a hot start with the bat, plating two runs in the top of the first inning, with Scott Patterson scoring on a Marshall Kronk sacrifice fly and Nick Shailes coming home on a throwing error.

The Steelers kept things tight in the field with pitcher Jack Besgrove finding the zone and the defence backing him up. Meanwhile, in the third inning, Australia extended its lead to three runs, with lead-off batter Patterson - who reached second base on a throwing error - scoring his second run of the afternoon via a Callum Beashel single into left field.

Canada got runners into scoring positions in its offensive half of the third innings after back-to-back singles but the power of Besgrove on the mound proved strong as the inning came to an end, Canada still unable to find its first run of the game as the fourth inning was a scoreless frame for both sides.

Canada was able to get on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning after a throwing error by Besgrove, with Ty Sebastian scoring from second base on a Ryan Boland single into right field before Australia got out of the inning with a double play.

Australia was keen to halt any momentum Canada might've had though, adding an extra two runs to its tally in the sixth inning. Shailes started things with a lead-off home run over the fence in centrefield for his second run of the contest, while a two-out base on balls to Joshua McGovern came back to bite Canada, with temporary runner Mathews scoring on a James Todhunter single into leftfield.

Despite a lead-off walk, Australia secured the next three outs to end the sixth inning without any further damage, and although the team left two runners on base at the top of the seventh, still maintained a 5-1 lead going into the final dig.

Needing three outs for victory, Australia looked primed to celebrate after two quick outs. However, a base on balls to Ryan Boland saw Canada plate a run - temporary runner Hill - on a Colin Walsh double. With the chance to tie the game with one swing of the bat, Shane Boland stepped up to the plate, though grounded out to third base, to which Australia began to take in the Championship win.

Australian Jack Besgrove got the win for a complete game, pitching seven innings, giving up one earned run on four hits while finishing with 10 strikeouts. Nick Shailes went two from three with two runs and an RBI, while James Todhunter (two from three, one RBI) and Scott Patterson (two from four, two runs) contributed well with the bats for the Steelers.

For Canada, Sean Cleary was credited with the loss, pitching 4.1 innings for five hits, one earned run, and five strikeouts. Relief pitcher Justin Schofield pitched 2.2 innings for three hits, one earned run, and three strikeouts. Ryan Boland (two from two, one run, one RBI) and Colin Walsh (two from three, one RBI) had multiple-hit games.

 

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Speaking after the game, head coach Laing Harrow said the team had been "incredible" not just in the gold medal match, but throughout the entire week of competition.

"I guess we set a pretty high standard to begin with and they just followed through, the whole World Cup so credit to them, they're a great bunch of guys to be around and I'm just fortunate to be a part of it," he said.

"Very excited, and the guys, so well deserved. It certainly hasn't hit home that you're World Championship [winners]. It has been a great week, like the quality of this competition's been outstanding and it's just been great to be a part of."

At the conclusion of the tournament, Australian pitcher Marshall Kronk won the MVP Award for an all-round display that included a win and save on the mound while recording 20 strikeouts overall for a 2.86 ERA, and with that bat, had six hits, two runs, seven RBIs, and a .240 batting average.

Two Australians made it into the All-World Team; Brendon O'Byrne (seven hits, seven runs, .350 batting average, 1.000 fielding average) at second base, and Nick Shailes (eight hits, nine runs, three HRs, nine RBIs, .421 batting average, 1.000 fielding average) at third base.

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