Friday, July 19, 2024

Five locals to represent NZ at U15 Baseball World Cup qualifiers

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Year 10 Pakuranga College student and Howick Pakuranga baseball youngster Messiah Tuhoro (standing) leads the haka for the NZ U14 side in Korea.

Five youngsters of the Howick Pakuranga (HP) Hawks Baseball Club have been selected for the New Zealand side that will compete at the under 15 Oceania World Cup qualifying tournament.

Those selected from the east Auckland club are Simon Aukett, Ben Bongiovanni, Jackson Tapiki, Messiah Tuhoro and Nikau Waru.

The squad of 18 will travel to Guam next month to compete in the WBSC Oceania Qualifier series with the aim of qualifying for the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U15 World Cup in 2024.

For Aukett (year 9) and Tuhoro (year 10), who both attend Pakuranga College, it will be the first time they have played in the same side, but not their first time representing New Zealand.

In June, both travelled to Korea for the Junior League Baseball Asia-Pacific Region Tournament, with Tuhoro representing the U14 New Zealand team and Aukett playing in the U13 side.

Simon Aukett pitching for the NZ U13 side in Korea this year.

NZ’s U14 side beat Guam 4-1 in Korea, which the U15 team will be looking to emulate.

HP Baseball coach and member of the U15 coaching staff Paul Wansbone says no one works harder on their baseball skills and physical preparation than the five young men selected.

“While each of these players is athletically talented to varying degrees, the one thing they all have in common is a strong work ethic and application to their training,” he says.

HP Baseball’s Todd Harcher has also been involved with the side, taking on the role of pitching support coach.

HP Baseball president Mike Bongiovanni says it is truly an honour for the players and their families.

“We are proud of these players, wish them all the best and want to thank the club coaches for developing them to get to this point and the parents who get them to and from practice/games,” he says.

Head coach of the side Brian Welts said selection of the squad was difficult, with such a great group of talented, hard-working players to choose from.

“We have selected a team that reflects the skill set, ability, positional play and coachability to compete in Guam. We are excited to bring this team together and see what we can achieve come November.” says Welts.

The WBSC U15 Baseball World Cup will be held in Taiwan next year with dates yet to be confirmed.

NZ U15 National Baseball Team (positions in brackets) 

  • Simon Aukett- Auckland (Pitcher)
  • Ben Bongiovanni- Auckland (Pitcher/Utility)
  • Jake Charity- Wellington (Pitcher)
  • Ethan Cox- Hamilton (Pitcher)
  • Jacoby Golding- Christchurch (Pitcher)
  • Hugo Harvey (Pitcher)
  • Kiharoa Landon-Lane- Wellington (Infield/Catcher)
  • Korban McKinlay- Auckland (Utility)
  • Adam Murphy- Wellington (Pitcher)
  • Renata Pereka-Pikari- Wellington (Pitcher/1st Base)
  • Tyrone Robinson- Wellington (Outfield/Pitcher)
  • Cullen Scott- Dallas, USA (Pitcher/Infield)
  • Noah Sipeli- Wellington (1st Base/Outfield)
  • Jackson Tapiki- Auckland (Utility)
  • Messiah Tuhoro- Auckland (Pitcher/1st Base)
  • Fletcher Warren- Wellington (Catcher)
  • Nikau Waru- Auckland (Infield/Pitcher)
  • Ben Willocks- Wellington (Utility/Pitcher)

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