XINZHUANG, Taiwan -- New Zealand will likely need to depend on 23-year-old second baseman Alan Schoenberger's power hitting to advance to the qualifier final.
After its disappointing 10-0 loss to Chinese Taipei in the opener, New Zealand's lineup went into full attack mode in the second game to eliminate Thailand from the qualifier with a 12-2 win.
New Zealand and the Philippines will play Saturday at 1 a.m. ET, available on a free, live stream at worldbaseballclassic.com.The winner of the game will secure a berth at the qualifier final against Chinese Taipei on Sunday. Only one team will qualify for the 16-team World Baseball Classic held next year.
Previously unranked New Zealand's charge against the Thais was led by Schoenberger, who batted leadoff for the Kiwis. In four at-bats, he chipped in a double and two singles. Schoenberger also drove in two runs, scored four runs and stole four bases. After two games, he boasts a .571 batting average.
Schoenberger, who played in the Phillies' farm system from 2007-11, will look for some help with the offensive load from first baseman Boss Moanaroa and shortstop Scott Campbell. Moanaroa has gone 3-for-7 thus far and belted a solo homer vs. Thailand for the first long ball by any player in the qualifier. Campbell has delivered three RBIs while also going 3-for-7 in two games.
New Zealand manager Andy Skeels said the game against Thailand helped boost his crews' confidence.
"We did a lot of things well today," he said. "We pitched well, we [got hits], and we scored in every inning. We've got some confidence ... so we're looking forward to getting on the field [Saturday]."
The Philippines got trounced, 16-0, by Chinese Taipei on Friday, but Philippines manager Jim Ramos said that he still believes his team can put up a good fight against New Zealand, which he praised for having a balanced team.
"They are very good," Ramos said. "They've got good pitching, they've got good hitting. It's gonna be a battle, [it] could be a really good battle between us two for the game."
Ramos will need to depend on White Sox Minor League first baseman Leighton Pangilinan, A's outfield prospect Ryan Pineda and other Minor Leaguers to boost the batting lineup. In the Philippines' game against Thailand, Pineda had three singles in six plate appearances, and third baseman Fernando Laurel singled twice and had a double, producing two RBIs.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.