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RECAP: South Australia clinch finals spot by smashing WA 14-0
05/01/2018 9:34 PM ET
 (Laura Bond)

South Australia clinched their spot on top of the ladder after a 14-0 mercy rule victory over Western Australia on Wednesday morning.

It was another total team performance for South Australia who improve to 4-0 in the Australian School Championships. For the third time in four games every player in the South Australian line up reached base at least once.

In fact, all but one player reached at least twice. Austin McClure provided a solid base for the hosts by pitching 4.2 innings with no earn runs, two hits and three strike outs.

The game's trademark inning was the top of the fifth when South Australia put up a gawdy nine runs to expand their lead to 14-0. In that inning Bite rookie of the year Curtis Mead had a bases clearing double to cash in three of his four RBIs on the day. 

South Australia then walked their way to bases loaded and scored another series of runs thanks to five Western Australia walks and base hits from Sean Maple and Kynan Skein.

Mason Clavell finally broke out with the bat, adding three hits to the day and drove in a couple key runs. 

Even though South Australia put up 14 runs he had high praise for South Australia's pitching. 

"They're throwing a lot of strikes and letting that field do the work. They're not trying to do much except throw strikes and trust the team," he says. 

While they play ACT later today the focus shifts to the "Top 3 Group" on Friday where they will fight for a spot in the Grand Final. 

The first two innings were scoreless. South Australia got it started with a nice third inning. 

In that third, South Australia strung together three extra base hits in a row all with two outs. 

First it was Curtis Mead who laced one to left field for his third triple of the tournament. Then was Mason Clavell who battled through a long at bat to double down the left field line. Then Blake Farr got his second hit of the day by crushing one to opposite field for the second triple of the inning.

Solid two out hitting. Three runs. And that was all the buffer starter Aussie McClure needed.

"Right now everyone is just doing their job and making their plays," says Clavell. "When you do that good things happen."

Mead went 2-4 on the day with four RBI and two triples to lead the South Australian attack. Mead, who won the U18 National Player of the Tournament in January, has five triples in the championship. In his last three games he is 6-11 with five RBIs, four triples and five stolen bases.

South Australia added to their score in the fourth inning thanks to a 2-RBI double to Sean Maple. It was Maple's fourth RBI in four games and continued a strong tournament both with the bat and in the field. Yesterday Maple made two eye-catching plays at third and Wednesday morning was no different. 

In the third inning Maple made an diving play at third, got up, planted and gunned down a runner at first. Par for the course for Maple.

"Our defense has been so good. Everyone is making plays and doing their job. It's nice to see," says Clavell.

Western Australia broke up Aussie McClure's perfect game in the fourth inning by earning a walk. Then, a double to Brandon Drew looked to score a run. But a perfect relay and an amazing throw from Mead at shortstop kept the run off the board.

Another day. Another game. Another win. Another spectacular defensive performance for South Australia. 

The playoff picture has become more clear in the tournament with the Top 3 advancing to a new group stage on Friday. The two top finishers make the Grand Final from that new Top 3 group.

South Australia has clinched first place. A New South Wales win over Victoria this afternoon means NSW and WA both advance. However, if WA beat QLD and VIC beat NSW there will be a three-way tie for second and will have to go to tiebreakers. This would likely see VIC and NSW through. 

Queensland are still a shot to make it but will need to beat Western Australia at Glenelg at noon and have New South Wales beat Victoria and then get through on run differential, if possible.

South Australia plays next at 11:30 vs. ACT and will look to finish group play with a perfect record.

"We're not going to take our foot off the accelerator," says Clavell. "We're looking to ensure we're in best shape for the finals."

STANDINGS

1. South Australia 4-0
2. New South Wales 3-1
3. Western Australia 2-2
4. Victoria 2-2
5. Queensland 1-3
6. ACT 0-4

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.