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Updated: September 9, 2012
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Copyright © 1997-2012
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar

Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2012 by Marco Stoovelaar

Czechs upset Dutch with surprise win at EC
ROTTERDAM (Neth.) - After having scored 32 runs in its first two games, the Dutch Team was held scoreless for eight innings by 20-year old Michal Sobotka on Sunday-afternoon on Day 3 of the European Championship and faced an 1-0 deficit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. An error then led to the tying run, but in the tie-break, two runs were scored by the Czech Republic, which went on to win 3-2 in 10 innings to write history.

This was the first-ever win by the Czech Republic in a game against the Netherlands baseball team. In 1999, the two countries first met and from then on, the Dutch Team won all seven games played between the two countries. The closest, the Czechs came to a victory was in 2003 when the Dutch won only 6-4 during the Olympic Qualifying Tournament with the game being played in....Rotterdam.

The loss is only the fourth for the Dutch squad in an European Championship since 2001. In that year, the Championship was held in Bonn and Cologne (Germany). After winning the first three games, the Dutch Team lost 4-3 to Russia in Cologne. Hereafter, the Orange won the next four games, including the Final against a then-surprising Russia which was shutout 4-0 to capture the European title.

In 2003, during the Championship at home soil, the Dutch Team remained unbeaten in eight games, but registered small wins against France (1-0) and Greece. The latter was then the surprising team and lost only 2-0 to the Dutch in the final.

Two years later, in 2005, in Prague (Czech Republic), the Dutch Team won all nine games played, but that also includes some small wins vs. the Czechs (3-0) and Sweden (2-0). In the final, Italy was shutout, 15-0.

In 2007, in Barcelona (Spain), the Dutch Team won all seven games, won the title and also qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games, as this event also served as Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

In the next European Championship in 2010 in Germany, the Dutch Team won its first seven games played, then lost 11-3 to Italy in the final round, which was followed by an 8-4 loss in the final to Italy, which then dethroned the Orange and captured the championship title.

...Dutch Starter Juan Carlos Sulbaran...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
So, since losing to Russia on July 31, 2001, today's loss was only the third thereafter. From the 2001 Championship through this years Championship, the Dutch won 40 games.

In the first eight innings on Sunday, both teams got 12 baserunners, with the Dutch outhitting the Czechs 8-4, but it were the Czechs who were leading 1-0.

Dutch starter Juan Carlos Sulbaran held the Czechs to only one basehit in the first five innings with only one player being able to reach second base. In the same span, the Dutch offense collected eight basehits off of starter Michal Sobotka and reached second base four times, but three runners were left in scoring position. In the final four innings, the Czechs added five more basehits, while the Dutch were held hitless!

In the first inning, two Czechs reached base with two outs, but then Sulbaran closed the at bat with a strikeout. The Dutch Team then appeared to take an early lead, as Michael Duursma and Hainley Statia led off with basehits. But then Curt Smith lined out to third base and two flyouts ended the at bat. It was the first sign that the Czechs played good defensively today.

In the second inning, Wesley Connor doubled with one out, but then was tagged out by the third baseman moments later when he was too far from second base on a grounder by Danny Rombley, who then was caught stealing to end the inning.

In the fourth, Quintin de Cuba and Wesley Connor singled with two outs, but were left behind. In the fifth, Nick Urbanus led off with his second basehit in two at bats. With two outs, he advanced on a single by Curt Smith, but again two runners were left behind. After Sobotka had retired seven batters in a row, Hainley Statia led off the eighth inning with a walk, but also stranded.

Juan Carlos Sulbaran retired 10 batters in a row, including five strikeouts (four in a row) from the second through fifth inning, before walking a batter, but he was forced out. Sulbaran then retired the next five batters and then, with two outs in the seventh inning, gave up a single to Petr Cech, who was the lone batter to have good contact off of him, as he also accounted for the first Czech basehit in the second inning. But Sulbaran followed with a strikeout to end the inning.

...Dutch Manager Brian Farley asks 3B Umpire Dana Beszczynski...
...for an explanation in the ninth inning...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
In the eighth inning, David Bergman took over the pitching, but then things started to go wrong for the Dutch squad. Jakub Sladek led off with a basehit, then his pinch-runner Petr Baroch reached second base safely on a throwing error by catcher Quintin de Cuba on a bunt by Jakub Hajtmar. Next, Bergman made an error on a sacrifice bunt by Martin Schneider, which loaded the bases. A following single by Jakub Malik then put the Czechs on top. A force out at home followed and a double play ended the inning, but the Orange suddenly faced an 1-0 deficit entering the bottom of the eighth inning.

In the ninth inning, Petr Cech connected well again, hitting an one-out double, but this time, he was left behind. In the bottom of the ninth, Quintin de Cuba led off with a walk and Wesley Connor was hit by a pitch, which marked the end for Michal Sobotka, who got a nice hand of applause when he left the mound. Marek Minarik took over and saw Danny Rombley put down a bunt, with the ball being thrown to third base, where De Cuba appeared to be safe to load the bases. However, De Cuba was called out, then suddenly the play was reversed, as a foul ball was supposedly being called. And so, the runners returned to first and second base and Rombley returned at bat. Rombley then grounded into a double play, but that brought De Cuba to third base. And so, with two outs, the Dutch faced an unexpected loss. However, an error was then made on a grounder by Nick Urbanus that enabled De Cuba to score the tying run. Michael Duursma then popped out, but the game went into extra innings.

In the tie-break, with runners on first and second base, Martin Schneider again successfully placed a bunt, which wasn't played correctly by the Dutch defense. The ball went by Bergman towards short and everyone was safe, loading the bases. Loek van Mil was brought in to relief Bergman, but gave up a sacrifice fly to Jakub Malik, which gave the Czechs a renewed lead. Jan Drabek then followed with an RBI-single to bring in an insurance run, before a double play ended the inning.

Trailing 3-1, the Dutch team started the bottom of the 10th inning with Rombley at second and Urbanus at first base. Michael Duursma then was unable to put down a bunt and struckout on a bunt-foul-third-strike (for the second time, after having been in the same situation in the fifth). Hereafter, Jan Rehacek took over the pitching. The lefthander, who wasn't very successful this season as pitcher for Dutch big leaguer Vaessen Pioniers, hit Hainley Statia with a pitch to load the bases and was replaced again. Jan Homolka took over and faced powerhitter Curt Smith, who grounded into a force play, but that scored Rombley. With Urbanus representing the tying run at third base and two outs, Bryan Engelhardt then grounded out to veteran first baseman Pavel Budsky, which triggered a Czech celebration, as the team had registered an historic victory.

In the evening, in Haarlem, reigning champion Italy almost also suffered a surprise loss, as it was trailing 3-2 in the eighth inning. But Italy then scored twice and went on to 4-3 to remain unbeaten in Pool A. In the evening-game in Rotterdam, Germany beat Great Britain 6-1 to remain unbeaten in Pool B and take first place. On Monday-evening, Germany meets the Dutch squad in Rotterdam.

(September 9)

...Full stands in Rotterdam...

...Pitcher Tom Stuifbergen...

...Loek van Mil with Dutch NBA-player Francisco Elson...
...who threw the first pitch...

...Nick Urbanus connects...
...he hit two basehits...

...Dutch Manager Brian Farley...

...Dutch starter Juan Carlos Sulbaran...
(© All Photos: Henk Seppen)

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Copyright © 1997-2012 Marco Stoovelaar / Grand Slam * Stats & News.