The Roar
The Roar


Shocking the world: How Australia made baseball history

Tim Kennelly #23 of Australia (Photo by Kenta Harada/Getty Images)
13th March, 2023
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Australia have qualified for the World Baseball Classic quarter-finals with a stirring 8-3 win over the Czech Republic, finishing second in their pool with a 3-1 record.

It’s the first time Australia have made it out of the WBC group stage after four attempts. Their three wins also tops their total of two wins across those four previous tournaments.

Brisbane’s Logan Wade broke a 1-1 seventh inning deadlock with a clutch double, driving in two runs and giving Australia the breathing space they so desperately needed.

After Wade’s moment, the team relaxed and opened their shoulders to score another five runs, but the final score doesn’t really do justice to how tight and tense it was after the Czechs loaded the bases in the ninth inning.

Securing passage to the final eight came after a historic opening win over world number four Korea, a 12-2 mercy rule domination of China and a 7-1 loss to a Shohei Ohtani inspired Japanese side, who topped the pool and are rightly one of the favourites to win it all.

The win over Korea rocked the tournament and the baseball world, probably best summed up by The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman:


Making the final eight has got baseball more media coverage here too. Usually this sport only appears in the news for massive brawls or funny crowd catches, but this wider interest is also an opportunity to highlight the potential the game has in Australia.

We’re ranked tenth in the world. We’ve won an Olympic silver medal in 2004 and the women’s team were World Cup runners up in 2010. Our junior teams consistently perform well on the international stage.

36 Australian-born players have played in the Major Leagues, that’s more than have played in the NBA.

Hundreds more have played in the minor leagues and the American Association league through the years, and right now there are dozens of Australian baseballers coming through the American college system.

There arer Australians coaching at Major League clubs and in the minor leagues, we’ve even got two (Ryan Rowland-Smith and Peter Moylan) who are part of TV broadcast crews for the Seattle Mariners and Atlanta Braves respectively.

It’s also worth noting all 30 players on this WBC squad cut their teeth in the Australian Baseball League and keep coming back each summer after their seasons in the USA and elsewhere are done.

So it can’t be undersold how important this result is for the game. In making the quarter-finals Baseball Australia receives $US400,000 ($602,558 in our money).


They play traditional baseball powerhouse Cuba on Wednesday night and if they win, they’re off to Miami for the semi-finals and a $US500,000 ($753,198) payday.

I highlight the money because while it doesn’t sound like a whole lot, it can truly have a generational impact if invested properly. Baseball’s Olympic future is in huge doubt which is bad news for long-term funding, with our governments not overly keen to kick in for sports who aren’t part of the games.

Australian third baseman Darryl George laid out why this matters as he took a moment after the win over the Czechs.

Opportunities for broadcasting and sponsorship money are also incredibly scarce for sports that aren’t the AFL, NRL or cricket, with baseball among many lower tier codes fighting for a spoonful of an ever-shrinking cake and in some cases, having to pony up their own money to get on our screens.

This tournament has seen probably Australia’s best-prepared team take the field, after a week in camp in Fuchu City on the outer edges of the Tokyo.

Manager Dave Nilsson highlighted the importance of being able to have that time together after Monday’s win.


“First of all, I have good players, and I think we prepared really well,” he said.

“I think there’s a belief in this group that if we prepare very well, which we did, we are going to put ourselves in a good position and over the last four days you’ve seen that we have played really well and that’s off the back of just some really hard work from all our players. Our preparation I think was right on point.”

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That preparation proved critical in the win over Korea, where Australia bolted from the blocks before being chased down and having to fight from behind for an 8-7 win.

If they’d lost that opening game, nothing else they did would have mattered.

Instead, they’re making history.