Despite getting into some trouble on the mound, O’Loughlin showed why he’s one of the highest rated young Australian prospects, collecting timely strikeouts and showing maturity beyond his years.
NSW Country star and reigning Australian Youth Championship MVP Rixon Wingrove gave the Australians the best possible start, nailing a three run home run to the opposite field in the opening inning.
Nicaragua pulled a run back of their own in the second, with cleanup hitter Jose Hurtado sending a pitch over the left field wall. That run would bet the only earned run O’Loughlin would concede in his outing, as he struck out the side following the home run to regain control of his outing.
Australian U18 Manager Steve Fish praised Jack’s composure under pressure.
“He got into a little bit of trouble early today,” Fish said.
“To Jack’s credit though he pounded the zone and the offence backed him up well.”
Following Nicaragua’s run, the response was gamechanging, as Australia piled on six runs in the bottom of the second which proved the difference. A combination of some hard hit balls, drawing walks (Australia drew 13 walks in 8 innings) and some Nicaraguan errors gave Australia the opportunity to score and score heavily, which they did.
One key to Australia’s victory was how early they were able to break into the Nicaraguan bullpen, with starting pitcher Ángel Obando only lasting 1.1 innings.
WA Catcher Alex Hall finished with three hits and two RBI on the day, while following O’Loughlin’s solid outing, Jett Wright and Jamie Young both threw scoreless innings.
The final defensive innings wasn’t without issues though, as Nicaragua scored twice. However it was too little too late as Australia claimed their second win in as many games, putting them in a good position as they look to advance to the Super Round.
Australia’s fourth game of the U18 World Cup sees them take on Asian baseball powerhouse Chinese Taipei on Monday 4 September at 11.30pm AEST.
Australia’s game against Chinese Taipei will be broadcast live on the WBSC’s YouTube Channel. Stay tuned to @TeamAustraliaBaseball on Facebook for the link.