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Mar '09 05

South Africa watch Angels soar in WBC Exhibition Opener

2009 World Baseball Classic Comments Off on South Africa watch Angels soar in WBC Exhibition Opener


Press Release South African Baseball

Los Angeles Angels – South Africa 13-6

SFA 003 030 000   6 11 2
LAA 200 452 00X  13 11 1

Box score

Reality begins to set in for South Africans

by Rob Fai

(Tempe Diablo Stadium – Tempe, AZ) – The South African Baseball Union opened their 2009 World Baseball Classic exhibition schedule with a 13-6 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Wednesday afternoon in Tempe, AZ.

With every crack of the bat, each member of the South African National Baseball team stood on the top steps of the dugout at Tempe Diablo Stadium and watched in awe.  Yes, it was only Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels hitting one moon shot after another over whatever part of the outfield wall he chose, but it was in that moment that many of the South African hopefuls realized the road ahead is a daunting one.

The average age of the South African contingent is a mere 21 years of age, meaning more than a dozen members of this World Baseball Classic roster wouldn’t be able to celebrate with a beer after a victory.  Not the end of the world by any means, but it gives you an indication that this South African side has a few growing pains ahead of them.

“This is what South Africa has to do to build a system.  There were some players who had ability, but didn’t have age on their side.  To develop this country’s game from the ground up, you have to get these young players time on the international stage”, says Manager Rick Magnante who come Sunday will lead South Africa into their second World Baseball Classic.

Wednesday afternoon, South Africa showed signs of progress vs. the Los Angeles Angels giving fuel to the youth movement argument.  South Africa erased an early two-run deficit to take a 3-2 lead on the Angels through three innings, got a decent outing from SA starter RHP Barry Armitage who allowed only a single hit in his three innings of work despite a trio of walks leading to a pair of runs.  And although the numbers weren’t magical by any means, when you look at what South Africa is trying to develop, there are many small victories to be found.

But reality always has a way of showing up when you want it around least, and the Angels eventually showed why their organization is revered as one of the deepest in Major League Baseball.  With not one projected Opening Day starter in sight, Los Angeles pounded South Africa’s bullpen for 11 runs in the game’s middle three frames en route to a lopsided 13-6 victory.

South Africa has little time to lick their wounds or compare stories of what it was like to play the Angels in a scheduled Spring Training game.  Thursday, South Africa heads to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to face the Oakland Athletics, the final tune-up game for the WBC squad.

Next up: South Africa vs. Oakland Athletics, Thursday, March 5th at Phoenix Municipal Stadium 1:05pm.

Notes: South Africa will start RHP Alessio Angelucci Thursday as they travel to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to face the Oakland Athletics…Announced attendance in Tempe on Wednesday was 1,259…Wednesday’s game was an exhibition for the Los Angeles Angels meaning stats for the game do not count towards their Spring totals.

Rob Fai is the broadcaster for the Vancouver Canadians of the Northwest League, Minor League Affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

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