Tuatara sweep Koreans, hold onto first place in their division

By Jamie Wall
Photo / SMP Images (Baseball Australia)

A big fourth and fifth innings was all it took for the Auckland Tuatara to complete a series sweep of Geelong Korea on Sunday at QBE Stadium in Albany, winning 7-2.

The result means the Tuatara maintain top spot in the ABL Northeast Division, three games ahead of their nearest rivals.

A pitching duel characterised the first four turns at bat for both teams, with big Josh Collmenter recording five strike outs and only giving up one base hit. Minhyeok Heo was keeping the Tuatara batters honest when he was at the mound, although he did give up five walks through his four innings.

The break came in the fifth, when the Tuatara loaded the bases and Heo walked Kent Blackstone. That brought Jared Walker home and Yonny Hernandez to the plate, and the Venezuelan lead-off hitter blasted a shot to right-field that brought in all three men out on the bases. The three RBI triple meant the score jumped to 4-0 and Collmenter made sure it stayed that way with two more strike outs in the next Korean innings.

Yonny Hernandez clears the bases and the @AucklandTuatara have broken this game open!

Watch at https://t.co/PIrl8Bks6G #ABL pic.twitter.com/EyQccj7v2H

Josh Morgan then doubled to centre field, which was followed by a base hit by Walker. Then the big play of the day came when Kim Won-Seok punished his countrymen by sending a bomb over the left-field ‘Teal Monster’ for a three-run home run, which made the score a daunting 7-0.

Won-seok Kim's long ball gives the @AucklandTuatara a 7-0 lead!

Have @Geelong_Korea got a rally in them?

Watch at https://t.co/PIrl8Bks6G #ABL pic.twitter.com/aCMa7tdXO5

The series so far had been notable for the Korean’s ability to come back from large deficits, or maybe the Tuatara seemingly sacking off to let their opponents back into the game. With the last two games ending 9-8 and 9-7, the Tuatara were desperate to put in full game’s worth of effort.

Emerson Martinez came on to finish off the last innings and while the Koreans did rally for two runs in the seventh, it was a good enough effort to make up for the almost blown last two games.

The Tuatara keep their hold on the Northeast Division, with away series to the Sydney Blue Sox and Canberra Cavalry coming up, before they return home to play the Brisbane Bandits on January 20.