(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by Henk Seppen)
Netherlands & Italy have final in sight after wins
BRNO (Czech Republic) -
The Netherlands Baseball Team, as well as Italy have the final of the European Championship in sight after both won their first game in the Championship Round.
Today (Thursday, September 18), the Second Round began, which is played entirely in teh Czech Republic.
In Brno, the three best teams of both Group A and B are now joined in the Championship Pool, while the nummers 5 and 6 of each Group will continue to play for ninth through twelfth place in Třebíč.
There is also action in a third city today, as Blansko hosts the game for seventh and eighth place, which will go between Russia and Belgium.
The Dutch Team broke a scoreless tie with a 4-run rally in the fifth inning and went on to win 10-4 against Germany.
Italy opened the Championship Round today with a small 6-4 win vs. Spain, which therefore almost faces elimination for the final.
There are some theoretical scenarios for the remaining two days in the Second Round, but it now becomes clear that the Netherlands and Italy almost surely will face each other (again) in the Final, which will be played next Sunday.
The two Dutch umpires in the tournament also will be active in the Second Round.
Veteran umpire Henri van Heijningen is officiating in the Championship Round in Brno, while Stenar van Groningen Schinkel has been assigned to the 9-12 Pool in Třebíč.
It took four innings for the Dutch batters to adjust to the pitches of German starter André Hughes, but the Orange squad then struck in the fifth at bat.
André Hughes, who has a Scottish father and a German mother, played in the 2009 season in the Dutch Major League for Mr. Cocker HCAW, initially silenced the Dutch offense in the first four innings.
The lefthander struckout five batters and gave up only two basehits in this span.
After Hughes had retired the first five batters in a row (including three consecutive strikeouts), he gave up singles to Shawn Zarraga and Yurendell de Caster, but the two were left behind.
After giving up the two singles, Hughes retired seven batters and then the Dutch offense struck in the top of the fifth.
It were again Zarraga and De Caster, who set a productive rally into motion.
Zarraga led off with a single and De Caster doubled, then both scored when Sharlon Schoop followed with a 2-run triple.
The latter then scored himself when Nick Urbanus added a single.
With one out, Hainley Statia doubled to bring in Urbanus and that marked the end for Hughes.
Trailing 4-0, he was relieved by Max Schmitz, who walked Curt Smith, but the inning then ended when Gianison Boekhoudt grounded into a double play.
...Winning pitcher Kevin Heijstek...
...gave up 3 hits in 7 solid innings...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
The Dutch defense was led by Kevin Heijstek, who made his second start of the event.
Four days after Mike Bolsenbroek threw the first National Team Perfect Game in 50 years, Heijstek took another one into the fifth inning.
The righthander retired the first 12 batters he faced, but his Perfect Game ended when Ludwig Glaser led off the fifth inning with a double.
An error followed, but a flyout and double play kept the shutout intact.
The Dutch Team added another 4-run rally in the seventh inning, including two unearned runs.
Sharlon Schoop led off with a single, Nick Urbanus followed with a bunt-single and the bases got loaded when Randolph Oduber was hit by a pitch.
An error of a grounder by Hainley Statia then led to a run, as did a following single by Curt Smith.
Schmitz then struckout the next two batters, but Shawn Zarraga then connected for his third basehit, which produced two more runs and lifted the lead to 8-0.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Germany also got on the board, scoring two unearned runs.
With one out, Maik Ehmke reached on an error and scored on a double by Ludwig Glaser.
With two outs, the latter scored on a grounder to make it an 8-2 score.
The Dutch Team got both runs back in the eighth inning when Randolph Oduber hit an one-out, 2-run homerun, which also scored Sharlon Schoop, who had led off with a walk.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Kevin Kelly took over for Heijstek and struckout the side.
Arshwin Asjes then pitched the ninth inning for the Dutch and gave up the final two German runs.
He hit the first batter, then walked the next, but was supported with a double play.
Maurice Wilhelm, who had entered the game in the eighth inning, then connected for a 2-run homerun, but Asjes followed with a strikeout to end the game.
The Dutch line-up was as follows:
Randolph Oduber (CF, 1-for-4), Hainley Statia (2B, 2-for-5), Curt Smith (1B, 1-for-4), Gianison Boekhoudt (DH, 0-for-5), Kalian Sams (LF, 1-for-5), Shawn Zarraga (C, 3-for-5), Yurendell de Caster (RF, 2-for-5), Sharlon Schoop (SS, 2-for-4), Nick Urbanus (3B, 2-for-4).
There were no changes.
...Former HCAW-pitcher André Hughes started for Germany...
...2B Hainley Statia forces out Maik Ehmke in the 9th inning...
...then completes a double play...
...Short stop Sharlon Schoop forces out Max Boldt...
...in the 5th inning and then also completes a double play...
...Nick Urbanus scores in the 5th inning...
...Former Kinheim-player Luke Sommer...
...Former ADO-catcher Simon Gühring...
...Kevin Kelly struckout 3 batters in the 8th inning...
...Maurice Wilhelm hit a 2-run homerun for Germany in the 9th...
...Shawn Zarraga was 3-for-5 with a run scored and 2 RBI's...
...Hainley Statia (16) and Sharlon Schoop (15) see outfielders...
...Kalian Sams, Randolph Oduber and Yurendell de Caster...
...celebrate the victory...
|(© All Photos: Henk Seppen)|
In other games today:
BRNO (Czech Republic)
The Championship Round began today with a narrow 6-4 win of Italy vs. Spain.
With the win, Italy remained unbeaten, while Spain suffered its second loss.
As the loss against the Netherlands is included in this pool, Spain faces elimination for the final.
Italy opened the score in the second inning on a single by veteran Mario Chiarini.
Two runs were then added in the next at bat.
With runners on first and third base and one out, singles by Alessandro Vaglio and Alex Sambucci lifted the lead to 3-0.
In the fifth, Italy made it 4-0 on a sac-fly by Alex Liddi.
But the 4-0 lead almost wasn't enough, as Spain rallied for three runs in the top of the sixth.
A single, stolen base and throwing error brought Franklin Tavarez to third base with one out and he then scored on a grounder by Daniel Martínez.
A single by Oscar Angulo followed and the Francisco Figueroa homered to narrow the deficit to 4-3.
It became a complete new ballgame when Spain came alongside in the seventh inning when Blake Ochoa doubled and Franklin Tavarez singled.
With the score now tied at 4-4, Italy decided the game in the bottom of the eighth.
First, the team re-took the lead on a double by Lorenzo Avagnina.
With two outs and after Avagnina was awarded third base on a balk, an insurance run was added when Stefano Desimoni singled to make it 6-4.
In the top of the ninth, Brazilian-born Tiago Da Silva closed the game for Italy, retiring the side, including two strikeouts.
Dutch umpire Henri van Heijningen was at first base in this game.
In the afternoon, the Czech Republic won big vs. France, 14-3 in a 7-inning game that was tied at 2-2 after four innings.
The Czechs took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Jakub Malík hit a 2-run homerun.
But France got a run back in the home of the first in a stolen base-situation, then came alongside in the third thanks to an RBI-triple by Felix Brown.
The Czechs re-took the lead in the fifth when Jakub Sládek homered, then the team rallied for four runs in the sixth and seven more in the seventh at bat to take a commanding 14-2 lead.
In the sixth, Petr Zýma and Jakub Hajtmar singled with one out, which led to a pitching change.
But then Matěj Hejma (3-run) and Jakub Sládek (solo) hit back-to-back homeruns to make it 7-2.
The Czechs then took more distance in the seventh, scoring seven runs on an RBI-single by Michal Ondráček, 2-run double by Jakub Hajtmar, 2-run single by Jakub Sládek and 2-run homerun by Jakub Malík.
France tried to avoid a mercy-rule loss in the home of the seventh, but could add only one more run.
Andy Paz then led off with a walk and scored on a triple by Omar Williams, who then was left behind, ending the game.
Dutch umpire Henri van Heijningen was also active in this game, as this time he was the 3B Umpire.
BLANSKO (Czech Republic)
Belgium convincingly won 12-2 in an 8-inning game vs. Russia to claim seventh place of the tournament.
Belgium collected 10 basehits, including two by Jamie Verheyleweghen, Benjamin Dille and Robin Roevens.
The latter had four runs batted in.
Belgium broke a scoreless tie in the third inning by scoring four runs with two outs.
Verheyleweghen then doubled in the first run and singles by Thomas De Wolf and Roevens (2-run) then lifted the lead to 4-0.
After adding a run in the fourth, Belgium had another 4-run rally in the sixth, thanks to 2-run singles by Dille and Dennis De Quint.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Russia got two runs back off of Robbe De Jongh, who started the inning in relief of starter Kevin Desmedt.
A double by Victor Samchuk and grounder by Oleg Semenov accounted for the runs, but that was all the Belgians allowed.
Belgium added three more runs in the eighth inning.
With the bases loaded, a run was scored on a wild pitch, then Roevens added a 2-run single with two outs to make it 12-2.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, De Jongh gave up a lead-off single, but then three outs followed, which earned him a save, as he threw three complete innings as the final pitcher in the game.
TŘEBÍČ (Czech Republic)
In the first game of the 'bottom-four', Croatia and Sweden played an interesting game, resulting in a 11-10 win for Croatia.
The score went back-and-forth and included 5-run rallies for both teams.
Initially, Sweden took an 1-0 lead in the first inning, but faced a 4-1 deficit after three at bats.
Sweden then rallied for five runs in the top of the fourth to take a 6-4 lead, but Croatia came alongside moments later.
Sweden took the lead for the third time in the fifth (7-6) and this time, Croatia reacted with a 5-run rally to make it 11-7 in their favor.
Croatia then was held scoreless in the remainder of the game, but Sweden added a run in the sixth (11-8), then scored two more in the ninth (11-10) in which it left the bases loaded!
In the third inning, Croatia broke an 1-1 tie by scoring three runs on a 2-run single by Nikola Sertić and basesloaded walk for Mario Manojlov, but then stranded three runners.
Sweden answered with five runs in the fourth on four hits, including 2-run singles by Oscar Holmberg and Peter Johannessen and an RBI-triple by Magnus Pilegard, but the Swedes also left the bases loaded.
Croatia tied the score again in the bottom of the fourth on a basesloaded hit batter and sacrifice fly.
A sac-fly by Pilegard gave Sweden a new lead in the fifth and then Croatia got its 5-run rally.
Antonio Horvatić led off with a triple, then Ross Vukovich followed with a homerun.
After a pitching change, Slobodan Galeš struckout, but reached on a wild pitch and this time, Dario Colović followed with a homerun.
Next, Nikola Sertić was hit by a pitch with two outs, stole second base and scored on a triple by Kruno Gojković to make it 11-7.
Sweden added another run in the sixth on a double by Philip Gajzler, but stranded two runners.
After leaving another runner in the seventh and two more in the eighth, Sweden scored twice in the ninth.
A double by Magnus Pilegard brought in a run, as did a fielding error, but Sweden ended up short by leaving three runners behind.
In the game, Sweden left 16 runners behind, including the bases loaded twice.
Croatia stranded 12 runners in this game, which lasted three hours and 15 minutes.
The first day in Třebíč ended with a 10-4 win for Great Britain vs. Greece in a high-hitting game.
The British Team collected 13 basehits, the Greeks ten.
Maikel Azcuy went 3-for-5 for the British, while Ben Pearson contributed with four runs batted in.
After taking an 1-0 lead in the first inning, Great Britain faced a 3-1 deficit in the top of the third inning.
Chris Kapothanasis then led off with a bunt-single and Thomas Lekas followed with an one-out double.
An error and a 2-run single by Christ Christopoulos then gave the Greeks a 3-1 lead.
That was shortlived, as Great Britain answered with two runs in the bottom of the third.
A triple by Zachary Wiley brought in the first run and he then scored the tying run himself on a wild pitch.
A single by Ben Pearson gave the British a 4-3 lead in the fourth and from that moment on, the game belonged to them.
A 4-run rally followed in the fifth inning.
With one out, Chris Berset homered, then the bases got loaded.
It was again Pearson who struck, as he cleared the bases with a 3-run double to make it 8-3.
Greece managed to add another run in the seventh, but the British squad then scored two more in the eighth when Mitch Evans hit a 2-run homerun.
Dutch umpire Stenar van Groningen Schinkel was at first base in this game.