South Africa beats New Zealand 7-1 at Sydney WBC qualifier

SYDNEY -- Seattle Mariners prospect Dylan Unsworth allowed two hits over eight shutout innings and designated hitter Brett Willemburg had two hits and drove in two runs to lead South Africa to a 7-1 win over New Zealand in the opening game of a World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament on Thursday.

Australia was set to play the Philippines in the second game of a day-night doubleheader.

Unsworth, a 23-year-old right-hander who reached Double-A last season, induced 15 ground balls and retired the first 11 New Zealanders he faced. He struck out the side in his final inning.

The winner from the four-team Sydney tournament, which ends Sunday, will qualify for next year's 16-team World Baseball Classic.

"When we arrived in Australia, one of the guys we targeted for this game was going to be Dylan," South Africa manager Alan Phillips said of Unsworth. "He is probably our most experienced starter."

South Africa took advantage of some New Zealand fielding miscues in the top of the third inning, scoring two runs on two hits, a wild pitch and two errors.

New Zealand starter Scott Cone was taken out of the game with two outs in the third, having allowed one unearned run on one hit with two walks and two hit batters in 2 2/3 innings. He was replaced by his brother Ben Cone, who gave up two runs on two hits before ending the inning.

South Africa added four runs in the top of the ninth inning to put the game out of reach for the New Zealanders.