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Updated: March 26, 2018
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
International Baseball
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2018 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story & Photos by Marco Stoovelaar)

Omron Pioniers finishes second in international tournament

RONCHIN (France) - Omron Pioniers, the second team of Hoofddorp Pioniers, played a strong international tournament in Ronchin (France) in the weekend (March 24-25). The team, which plays in the second highest league, won three of its four games played and reached the Final of the event.

Dean Held, one of the outfielders of Pioniers, won the award for the Best Hitter of the tournament.

Pioniers was one of four teams participating in the sixth edition of the Dragons 6 Series, organized by Les Dragons de Ronchin. This baseball- and softball-club was founded in 1987 by members of Lille Universié Club Baseball. The club plays its games at Stade Pierre de Coubertin in Ronchin, which is a municipality in the north of France. It is part of the European Metropole of Lille, which consist of 85 cooperating municipalities centered around the city of Lille, which is located on the border of France with Belgium. The baseball-team plays in the Nationale 1, which is the third highest league in France. Dragons opens its new season on April 8 with a road game against Outlaws de Strasbourg.

For Pioniers, these were their first games of the exhibition season. Due to the cold and freezing weather conditions, the team was unable to play, but had conducted some outdoor practices.

...Head Coach Ronald Stoovelaar...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
But in the weekend, the weather conditions in Ronchin were very comfortable. Playing four games in the weekend was very welcome for the players and the coaching-staff, which is led by former Dutch big league and Netherlands Team-catcher Ronald Stoovelaar. ,,Despite the fact that these were our first games we played, our pitching, defense and hitting looked very well. We returned home with a good feeling'', said Stoovelaar, who will be assisted by Jasper de Jong and John Loogman, while former Orange-pitcher Eric de Vries is the Pitching Coach.

Amongst the players are former big leaguers Swen Huijer (pitcher), Tom van Limburg (pitcher), Mark Duursma (catcher) and Norbert Lokhorst (infield/outfield). Besides playing, these 'veterans' also will have an instructing role within the group.

The team opens the regular season on Saturday, April 7 at home against De Glaskoning Twins 2.

On Saturday, Pioniers opened the tournament in Ronchin with a huge 29-0 shutout win against Amsterdam Vatos, which was the second particpant from the Netherlands.

Later in the day, Pioniers played an attractive and suspenseful game against host Dragons de Ronchin and won 3-2. In the final at bat, Bram Stoovelaar led off for Pioniers and reached on an error. Moments later, he scored the winning run on a walk-off single by Thom Hoogkamer.

...Pitcher Tom van Limburg...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
On Sunday, Pioniers recorded its third victory and won 11-1 against Namur Angels from Belgium.

With that, Pioniers was the lone team unbeaten after the preliminary round and reached the Final. After completion of its game against the Belgians, Pioniers had to wait more than 3½ hours to play the Final.

In that game, Pioniers faced host Dragons de Ronchin again, but this time lost 9-5. Dragons earlier won the event two years ago.

(March 24-25)

Complete Schedule Regular Season

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