by: Andrea Blackshaw in Christchurch

New Zealand's Black Sox have achieved an historic three-peat at the ISF XI Men's World Championship in Christchurch.

The Black Sox beat Canada, 9-5, to win their third consecutive title, after wins in Michigan (USA) in 1996 and East London (South Africa) in 2000.

It was a fitting farewell for several veteran players who will be retiring, including Mark Sorenson, Marty Grant, Jim Wana, and Jarrad Martin.

Earlier in the day, Canada had sealed their place in the final with a one-sided 7-0 win over Australia. Despite that loss it was a great day for Australia, claiming their first medal at an ISF Men's World Championship in taking the bronze.

Canada made the better start to the final, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. New Zealand's starting pitcher, Michael Gaiger, had given up two hits and a walk at that point, and after giving up a walk to the first batter in the top of the second, he was replaced by Jimmy Wana, who'd pitched both the shutout against the United States and the previous night's win against Canada.

The Black Sox had scored one run in the bottom of the first inning and then tied the game up in the bottom of the second when Patrick Shannon hit a two-run homer after Donny Hale had been walked.

That forced a Canadian pitching change with starter Gerard Muizelaar pulled and Nick Underhill coming in. But the Black Sox bats continued to blaze and they scored three more runs in the bottom of the third. Stacey McLean hit safely, Jarred Martin joined him on base on a high hopper, and Mark Sorenson stepped up with a huge home run over both fences at Smokefree Ballpark. It was a significant moment that signaled the end of a great career. Sorenson has played at six world championships, winning gold four times and silver twice.

Canada pulled one run back in the top of the fifth to make it 6-4 when Rob Grey batted in Jody Eidt who'd been walked. But the Black Sox took it out to a four- run margin again in the bottom of the fifth when Sorenson hit safely again and scored on an error, and Thomas Makea hit safely and scored on a wild pitch. That forced another pitching change, with Dean Holoien – coming back from a one-game suspension – coming into the game.

But, in the bottom of the sixth, Dion Nukunuku put the icing on the cake with a home run over the centerfield fence. After that the Black Sox were always in control and Canada's late run in the top of the seventh was a mere consolation.

Sorenson went 3-for-4 while Nukunuku went 2-for-4 including a home run, and Patrick Shannon went 2-for-4 including a home run.

For Canada, Ron Grey had three hits in four at-bats while Holoein had two hits in three plate appearances.




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