Bandit Kiwi makes his Marck in New Zealand Baseball

ANDREW MARCK

Return of the Marck

For 22 year old Andrew Marck, it seems his career has come full circle, from a dream he formed age 6 at the Howick-Pakuranga baseball club which was realised on Sunday at the 2012 National Championships.

Over three days, seven teams played 18 games in the biggest competition on Baseball New Zealand’s calendar.  One pitcher, Andrew Marck, stood out from Baseball New Zealand’s elite and National team hopefuls.

Walking away with MVP honours was a fitting welcome home for Andrew Marck, arriving just at the right time to secure a 6-3 victory against West City Metro with his childhood team.  “It was great to be part of a game like that and I was happy I could help contribute to the win. It is a huge deal for us and everyone on the team should be very proud of the way they performed.”

“I was happy with my performance in the final – I was able to work ahead of most hitters and kept the hitters off balance” admittedly Marck struggled for control early in the game and credits some timely hitting with carrying the team through the eight inning game.

Striking out an impressive 14 batters over 8 2/3 innings, Marck allowed no earned runs on one hit and just seven walks; for being “just one small piece of the puzzle” that makes up New Zealand baseball, he certainly made some noise.

The real highlight for Marck in the final game, was seeing his teammates in action “Regan Hoet pitched us into the final with his great performance in the semis and then he carried our offense with consecutive RBI singles” noting the dedicated Kiwi could have done further damage, had he not left in the 7th to catch a plane back to Canada.

Jamie Wilson was able to earn the save with a huge strikeout to end the game with style” Marck reflects “When John Lee hit the clutch late game grand slam in the semi final the crowd were louder than any rugby supporters I have ever heard.”

The commitment of the fans who cheered through the temperamental weather made the victory with his best mates on home soil, that much sweeter.

“One of the main advantages I felt that we had was our team chemistry” attributing this to their coach, John Fellet, who has kept the team intact as best he could, like Marck, most started at Howick-Pakuranga as kids “we are all very closely connected.  We look out for one another and we all put the team first.”

“There was also a strong sense of confidence among each other” said Marck, revealing the secrets behind the unbeaten team “Even when were behind we had confidence that we had the ability to come back and win the game. This was in evidenced in Derek Grace’s hit a 2 out homerun to tie the game in the 5th inning of the final”.

Hopefully, this is a success that Marck can take the time to enjoy, he hasn’t been home a month since returning from a season with the Australian Baseball League.  Playing baseball fulltime in Australia was a dream come true for Marck, flying around the country for five day series with the Brisbane Bandits.  Although, Marck got more time on-field down under than back home, the competition, he says was very similar “(because) the Australian and New Zealand players are both competitive and passionate.”

In addition to developing his pitch, Marck even spent some time in the outfield with local club Carina Red Sox; the experience paid off – he concluded the Nationals with a hitting .647 with 12 RBIs, not bad for a player whose home has always been on the mound.

With a year in the US college system and season in Australia already under his belt, travelling to Taiwan as a Diamondblack for the World Baseball Classic qualifying round is the next milestone on Marck’s list.  Marck considers it the opportunity of a lifetime to make history with a team he really believes in, for a country he loves. “This is a big year for him…I personally expect big things from him in the qualifiers. I think we all do.” said Chief Executive of Baseball New Zealand Ryan Flynn.

The reformed Australian Baseball League starts...

Image via Wikipedia

Prior to November, Marck will return to Adelaide over Easter with the Mens National Team to compete in the Australian Provincial Championships.  This is the same competition Marck was spotted at last year which led to his ABL stint – again, his career will do a 360.

The outcome of Sunday’s finals was not only an achievement for Howick-Pakuranga club, it was a win for Baseball New Zealand; players of Marck’s calibre proving they can run circles around the competition  “New Zealand baseball is going to surprise some people in the up and coming years.” he promised.

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