Australia celebrate qualifying for the 2017 World Baseball Classic ©Baseball Australia

Australia have qualified for next year's World Baseball Classic after beating South Africa 12-5 in the qualifying tournament at Blue Sox Stadium in Sydney. 

The event, sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), is open to the sport's top 16 countries and includes players from Major League Baseball (MLB). 

The team will be hoping to do better than they did in 2013 when they failed to win a match in the World Baseball Classic during their group matches in Taiwan. 

Australia, ranked 14thin the world in 2014, narrowly missed qualifying for the inaugural 2015 Premier12 by only nine world ranking points.

“We deserve to be in the World Baseball Classic,” Team Australia manager Jon Deeble said.

“I think we should be in the Premier 12 too, so this is great for the sport.

"The hard work these guys have put in, they earned it today to be able to say they are going to the World Baseball Classic.”

Australia were railing 4-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning but  fought back to tie the match before adding two runs in the seventh and breaking the game open with a six-run eighth inning.

Trent Oeltjen, who had played in the MLB for  Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers and had come out of retirement to help Australia qualify for the World Baseball Classic, was the star of the show. 

He had three hits, two runs scored and two driven in.  

The qualifying tournament for the 2017 World Baseball Classic was held at the Blue Sox Stadium in Sydney ©Baseball Australia
The qualifying tournament for the 2017 World Baseball Classic was held at the Blue Sox Stadium in Sydney ©Baseball Australia

“It’s fantastic for the programme [to have the players want to represent their country],” Deeble said.

“You can see Oeltjen is a hero here.

"Guys like him, we’ve got to keep them playing."

A venue for the 2017 World Baseball Classic is due to be announced later this year. 

Since being launched in 2006, all three tournaments have been taken place in different countries but the finals of every event have been held in California with San Diego hosting the first and Los Angeles the second in 2009 before it took place in San Francisco  four years later. 

Australia clinched one of the four remaining places to be filled.

They will take their place alongside defending champions Dominican Republic and the 2013 runners-up Puerto Rico.

Also qualified are Japan, Chinese Taipei, South Korea, China, The Netherlands, Italy, Cuba, United States, Venezuela and Canada. 

The remaining three places will be filled at qualifying tournaments in Mexicali in Mexico and Panama City in Panama from March 17 until 20 and Brooklyn in the US from September 22 until 25.