Tuatara shake off fast-finishing Koreans

By Jamie Wall

Bas Nooij was a hero for the Tuatara with a home run in the first innings  (Photo SMPIMAGES.COM / Baseball.com.au)

The Auckland Tuatara have escaped with a 9-8 win over Geelong Korea last night at QBE Stadium in Albany last night, despite leading 9-0 after only two innings.

A monster first innings saw Jared Walker continue his hit streak with a stand up double that brought in Jonny Homza, Walker himself came in off a Kim Won-seok single, before Bas Nooij blasted a two run shot over the centre field fence to shoot the Tuatara out to a 7-0 lead and seemingly big victory.

That lead increased by two runs in the next innings after Won-seok and Andrew Marck both hit RBIs, and the heat was on the Koreans to come up with some sort of answer. They’d already made two pitching changes, while on the other side all the Tuatara’s starter Junya Michihara had to do was send down strikes with such a big lead.

The Japanese pitcher impressed with his first start of the season - it would be wrong to call him an import though, Michihara brought himself to New Zealand and showed up at Tuatara training in November to try his luck with the team. After proving his worth it looks as though he will have a role to play in the starting rotation now that the side has lost Jared Koenig to the Oakland A’s.

Michihara was relieved after giving up a home run in the fifth innings, but then things started to unravel as the Tuatara bullpen struggled to contain the resurgent Koreans.

Mark Fox walked in another run with the bases loaded to make the score 9-4, then Homza made an error that led to another run.

In the seventh and final innings, things closed right up when Song Woo-Hyun hit a two RBI home run. It made it a one-run game, but Yujo Kitigata was able to strike out Ju Sung-Won to claim a victory that was far closer than anyone thought it would be after the first two innings.

The two sides meet again tonight at QBE Stadium in the third game of their series. The Tuatara still lead the Northeast Division with two games in hand over second placed Canberra.