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Updated: September 21, 2014
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by Henk Seppen)

Netherlands re-captures European title!
Nederlands
BRNO (Czech Republic) - The Netherlands Baseball Team re-captured the European baseball-title today (Sunday, September 21) by winning 6-3 in the final against Italy, which had won the title in 2010 and 2012.

The Dutch Team put on an offensive show, scoring five of its runs on homeruns!
Randolph Oduber and Kalian Sams led off the first and second inning with homeruns to give the Dutch an early 2-0 lead. Curt Smith and again Sams then homered in the fourth inning to make it a 4-0 score. After scoring its next run on an error in the sixth at bat, the sixth Dutch run was scored when Smith also hit his second homerun in the game in the eighth inning. Italy scored their three runs in the seventh inning and with that narrowed the deficit to 5-3, but then also left the bases loaded.

With the win today, the Netherlands captured its 21st European title and its first since 2007 after being dethroned in Stuttgart (Germany) in 2010. Back then, the Dutch Team lost both the last game of the Second Round as well as the Final. The same happened two years later, when the event took place in the Netherlands. In 2007, the Netherlands and Italy didn't meet each other during the Championship in Spain, as Italy was eliminated for the final round.

Netherlands vs. Italy at Eur. Champ. since 2005
DateSiteScoreW/L
July 9, 2005Choceň (Czech Rep.)4-1W
July 17, 2005Prague (Czech Rep.)15-0 (6½)W
July 31, 2010Stuttgart (Germany)11-3L
August 1, 2010Stuttgart (Germany)8-4L
September 15, 2012Rotterdam (Neth.)4-3L
September 16, 2012Rotterdam (Neth.)8-3L
September 20, 2014Brno (Czech Rep.)5-0W
September 21, 2014Brno (Czech Rep.)6-3W
And so, the last Dutch win against Italy on an European Championship dates back to July 17, 2005 when the Orange squad defeated Italy 15-0 in the final after also having won 4-1 in the preliminary round. Coincidentally, the 2005 Championship also took place in the Czech Republic, with Prague then hosting the games.

Five players on the current roster also were with the team in 2005, being pitchers David Bergman, Rob Cordemans and Diegomar Markwell, infielder Michael Duursma and outfielder Danny Rombley. Two of the players of the 2005 team were now with the squad as coach, catcher Sidney de Jong (Hitting Coach) and infielder Evert-Jan 't Hoen (1B Coach). From the staff, four members of 2005 also were active this time. Ben Thijssen was the 3B Coach back then and also served in that position this time. Steve Janssen was the Pitching Coach in 2005 and is now the Manager since last year. From the medical staff, Physical Therapist Rob Tamminga was active on both tournaments.

The fourth staff-member to be at both events is Robert Eenhoorn. In 2005, he was the Manager and now, he was in Brno as the Technical Director of the Royal Netherlands Baseball and Softball Association (KNBSB). Eenhoorn led the team as Manager in 2001-2008, then resigned to become Technical Director. For Eenhoorn, he closed his career with the KNBSB after 14 years with this championship. Next month, he becomes the General Manager of Dutch soccer-club AZ, which plays in the Honor Division, the highest Dutch soccer-league.

Medal Ranking European Championships
CountryGoldSilverBronzeTotal
Netherlands219030
Italy1016329
Belgium1269
Spain111416
Great Britain0202
Germany0178
Greece0101
Russia0101
Sweden0022
France0011
Oh, another fact. There were two pitchers named Stuifbergen. In 2005, Nick Stuifbergen was a member of the Dutch pitching-staff and this time, his brother Tom Stuifbergen was one of the Orange-hurlers.

For the Netherlands Baseball Team, this was its 30th medal on an European Championship, which was organized for the first time 60 years ago, in 1954. The Dutch Team won its first title in 1956, which was the first of seven consecutive titles and the first of 10 titles in 11 tournaments. Between 1975 and 1991, Italy won the title six times, opposed to three Dutch titles. The Netherlands then regained its spot at the top by winning in 1993 and 1995. After Italy won in 1997, the Dutch captured five consecutive titles and that streak ended when Italy won in 2010.

Besides winning the European title, the Dutch Team also won five individual awards, including the Most Valuable Play Trophy, which went to Curt Smith. It was the first time this trophy was won again by a Dutch player since Ivanon Coffie was named MVP after the 2005 tournament. The last time, five individual awards went to the Dutch Team was in 2007, the last time the Orange won the championship. Raily Legito then was the Outstanding Defensive Player, had the most RBI's and hit the most Homeruns, while Roger Bernadina scored the Most Runs and had the Most Stolen Bases.

Individual Awards
AwardWinnerTeam
Most Valuable PlayerCurt SmithNetherlands
Outstanding Defensive PlayerAlessandro VaglioItaly
Best Pitcher (ERA)Mike BolsenbroekNetherlands
Best Pitcher (W-L)Eric GonzalezSpain
Best HitterOscar AnguloSpain
Most Runs ScoredCurt SmithNetherlands
Most Runs Batted InGianison BoekhoudtNetherlands
Most HomerunsJakub SladekCzech Republic
Most Stolen BasesKalian SamsNetherlands
When the Dutch Team was dethroned in 2010 in Stuttgart (Germany), the squad had no active professional players on its roster. None were available as the event took place in July, which is of course in the middle of the professional seasons. And so, the team was compiled entirely from players of the Dutch big league.

In 2012, when the event took place in September and playing on home soil, eight active professionals were added to the team, including three pitchers, four every-day position players and a back-up catcher. The four position players were Curt Smith, Nick Urbanus, Kalian Sams and Hainley Statia. But two years ago, the team ended up short.

This time, Smith, Urbanus, Sams and Statia were back with the team and were joined by four more professional position players. This octet was the basis in the everyday line-up of Manager Steve Janssen. Pitcher Wendell Floranus was the ninth professional player on this year's roster.

In today's game, the Dutch Team took an early 2-0 lead. Randolph Oduber drilled the third delivery of Italian starter Michael Colla in the first inning over the leftfield-fence for a homerun for a quick 1-0 lead. Kalian Sams then did the same in the second at bat, leading off with a homerun.

Final Standings
#Team
1Netherlands
2Italy
3Spain
4Czech Republic
5Germany
6France
7Belgium
8Russia
9Great Britain
10Greece
11Sweden
12Croatia
More homeruns followed. The 27-year old Michael Colla would give up two more in the fourth inning. The American-born Colla is playing professionally since 2008 and this season pitched in Double-A for the Tampa Bay Rays, where he was 7-12. There, he gave up 11 homeruns in 144 innings pitched. Today, the righthander gave up four in 3 1/3 inning!


...Starting pitcher Rob Cordemans...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
39-year old veteran Rob Cordemans started for the Dutch as expected. He didn't see any action during the tournament until today. That gave the righthander extra time to recover from his injury and he did fine today. Cordemans retired the first nine batters he faced, including four strikeouts. Trailing 2-0, Italy threatened to do something back in the fourth inning. Juan Carlos Infante and Stefano Desimoni led off with singles and advanced on a sacrifice bunt. Cordemans then struckout Alex Sambucci, but the bases got loaded when Alex Liddi walked. And so, Cordemans more or less pitched around Liddi, who became the first Italian-born and raised player to reach the Major League in 2011 when he played for Seattle Mariners. With Liddi at first base, the bases were only loaded, it also created a force play. But Cordemans didn't need that, as he ended the inning himself by striking out Alberto Mineo.

The Dutch offensive immediately added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Curt Smith hit the third lead-off homerun in the game, then Kalian Sams hit a towering homerun with one out, his second in the game, to make it 4-0. It marked the end for Colla, who struckout four batters and allowed only four batters to reach base. But these four only needed to touch the bases, as they all homered.

In the fifth inning, David Bergman took over the pitching for Cordemans. He saw Italy get its first two batters on base again in the seventh. Stefano Desimoni reached on an error, then Alessandro Vaglio walked. As it had started to rain in the previous inning, the mound had become somewhat muddy and the game was interrupted. The groundscrew put on new dirt on both the mound and the home plate-area and the game resumed after some 10 minutes. Next, Bergman handed Alex Sambucci his third strikeout and then was supported with a nice double play on a grounder by Alex Liddi.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Dutch Team increased its lead to 5-0 off of Tiago Da Silva, who took over from Josť Escalona, Colla's reliever. Hainley Statia led off with a single, then Curt Smith walked. Da Silva then struckout Gianison Boekhoudt and Kalian Sams, but gave up a run when a grounder by Shawn Zarraga was misplayed by 1B Alex Sambucci.


...Manager Steve Janssen with the Championship Trophies...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
In the top of the seventh inning, Italy got back into the game for real, scoring three runs to narrow the deficit to 5-3. With one out, David Bergman gave up a double to Mario Chiarini, then walked Erik Epifano. Next, Lorenzo Avagnina also doubled down the leftfield-line to bring in the first Italian run. The bases got loaded when Juan Carlos Infante also walked. Herafter, Italy added another run when Bergman, who appeared to be bothered somewhat by his shoulder, also walked Stefano Desimoni. The righthander was relieved by Tom Stuifbergen, who like Cordemans and Bergman was sidelined with an injury. Did Cordemans and Bergman sat out a few weeks, Stuifbergen didn't pitch the entire season, until he recently came back pitching for Corendon Kinheim. Stuifbergen first faced Alessandro Vaglio, who was awarded first base when he was hit by a pitch. However, Tv-replays showed that the ball either didn't touch Vaglio at all or otherwise slightly touched him. Anyway, Vaglio got first base and Italy added another run to make it 5-3. Hereafter, Stuifbergen fielded a comeback-grounder by Alex Sambucci (who wasn't very successful today) to force out Infante at home. The righthander then followed by striking out powerhitter Alex Liddi to end the inning and leaving the bases loaded!

In the eighth inning, Stuifbergen retired the side, including two strikeouts. The first of these strikeouts was a called one for lead-off hitter Alberto Mineo, who didn't liked the call of Czech Home Plate Umpire David Kulhanek and told him that.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Dutch Team added an insurance run when Curt Smith also hit his second homerun of the game. And it also was the fourth lead-off homerun for the Dutch! Next, Gianison Boekhoudt walked. The last ball was just outside the zone and got a reaction from Italian Manager Marco Mazzieri. In the inning before, Mazzieri also argued with Kulhanek regarding his strike-zone. This time, Mazzieri said something too much and was ejected.

In the top of the ninth inning, Stuifbergen again retired the side. A flyout in leftfield was followed by a nice play by 3rd baseman Nick Urbanus. The game then ended when Stefano Desimoni grounded out to second baseman Hainley Statia. The European title was back in the Netherlands!

The Dutch line-up was as follows:
Randolph Oduber (CF, 1-for-4), Hainley Statia (2B, 1-for-4), Curt Smith (1B, 2-for-3), Gianison Boekhoudt (DH, 0-for-3), Kalian Sams (LF, 2-for-4), Shawn Zarraga (C, 0-for-3), Yurendell de Caster (RF, 0-for-3), Sharlon Schoop (SS, 0-for-4), Nick Urbanus (3B, 1-for-3). Danny Rombley (0-for-1) took over in rightfield for De Caster in the seventh inning and Gilmer Lampe was inserted as pinch-runner for Boekhoudt in the eighth inning, then became the new designated hitter.


...Randolph Oduber leads off the 1st inning with a homerun...
...and is greeted by 3B Coach Ben Thijssen...

...Hainley Statia dives back safely to 1st base...
...in the sixth inning...

...Gianison Boekhoudt connects for the Dutch Team...

...Curt Smith tags Juan Carlos Infante during a pick-off...

...While it rains, Manager Steve Janssen asks...
...HP Umpire David Kulhanek to check the mound...

...The groundscrew places new dirt on the mound; Dutch players...
...and French umpire Serge Makouchetchev look on...

...The final out is made...
...The Dutch Team is European Champion...

...Rob Cordemans is interviewed by Andy Houtkamp...
...for tv-show NOS Studio Sport...

...Kalian Sams is greeted after his 2nd HR...


...Celebration Time...


...Curt Smith...
...MVP & Most Runs Scored...

...Mike Bolsenbroek...
...Best Pitcher...

...Gianison Boekhoudt...
...Most Runs Batted In...

...Kalian Sams...
...Most Stolen Base...

...Michael Duursma is handed the Championship Trophy...
...by CEB-President Jan Esselman...

...The Dutch Team celebrates the first European title...
...since 2007...

...Departing Technical Director Robert Eenhoorn...
...ends his activities with the European title...







...The winning staff...
...Peter Meijers (Team Manager), Pepijn van Ingen (Phys.Th.),...
...Evert-Jan 't Hoen (1B Coach), Sidney de Jong (Hitting Coach),...
...Wim Martinus (Bullpen Coach), Steve Janssen (Manager),...
...Bernie Beckman (Scout), Robert Eenhoorn (Techn.Director),...
...Rob Tamminga (Physical Therapist), Ben Thijssen (3B Coach)...
...Sitting in front is Ton Meiresonne (Equipment Manager)...

...A photo to mail back home...


...Photographer Henk Seppen joins the celebrations...
...Here, he is with the European Championship Trophies...
(© All Photos: Henk Seppen)

(September 21)




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