World Clas­sic tees off

MA­JOR CON­TEST HITS RE­GION

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - SPORT - Jil­lian Mc­Kee

WESTERN Syd­ney Wan­der­ers helped tee off the World Base­ball Clas­sic at Black­town In­ter­na­tional Sport­spark yes­ter­day.

The premier in­ter­na­tional base­ball com­pe­ti­tion is com­ing to Rooty Hill this week­end with a qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment.

Aus­tralia, New Zealand, the Philip­pines and South Africa will com­pete in a dou­ble elim­i­na­tion round at the Rooty Hill ground over four days, from Fe­bru­ary 11-14.

The fi­nal win­ner will ad­vance to the World Base­ball Clas­sic in 2017, with the host

coun­try yet to be an­nounced.

All four teams started their first of­fi­cial train­ing ses­sion at the Rooty Hill ground on Mon­day, how­ever have been pre­par­ing for the com­pe­ti­tion since the last world tour­na­ment in 2013.

The Aus­tralian side will be led by man­ager Jon Dee- ble, who will take the team to the World Base­ball Clas­sic for the fourth con­sec­u­tive time.

Dee­ble said he was ex­cited for the up­com­ing tour­na­ment.

“I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to get­ting the team into camp and get­ting un­der­way”, Dee­ble said.

“Af­ter a great ABL sea­son, it’s now our chance to dig in and get af­ter it, and show the Aussie fans what we have got.”

The 28-man Aus­tralian squad will take on the Philip­pines in their first game on the tour­na­ment on Thurs­day night.

The team is made up of nine Ma­jor League Base­ball-af­fil­i­ated play­ers, in­clud­ing two from the At­lanta Braves, left-handed pitcher Steven Kent and catcher Matt Ken­nelly.

Pic­ture: PETER KELLY

Aus­tralian base­ball play­ers and Wan­der­ers Jonathan Aspropotami­tis and Ja­cob Pep­per with Black­town Mayor Stephen Bali.

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