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Updated: September 12, 2021
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Copyright © 1997-2021
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2021 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photo by Henk Seppen)

Netherlands opens European Championship with shutout-win vs. Slovakia

TORINO / AVIGLIANA / SETTIMO TORINESE (Italy) - The Netherlands Baseball Team opened the 36th edition of the European Championship on Sunday (September 12) with an 11-0 shutout-victory against Slovakia. It was the first time in history that the two countries played an international baseball-game against each other.

In its opening-game, played in Torino, the Orange Team collected 13 basehits. Rookie Junior Martina batted in four runs. Five Dutch pitchers struckout 18 batters, including five by debuting Raf Cocu.

The Netherlands plays it next game on Monday-evening (8:30 PM) against the Czech Republic.

The European Championship is organized in the Piedmont-region in the northwest top of Italy. The games will be played at three different locations with Torino being the main-site where the Final will be played. Games will also be played in Avigliana en Settimo Torinese.

Two years ago, in Germany, the Netherlands captured its 23rd European title by winning 5-1 against Italy in the Final. A few weeks later, both teams were left empty-handed at the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier, where Israel finished in first place to qualify for the Olympic Games in Japan. The Netherlands finished second, but was eliminated for the Games in June during the Final Baseball Qualifier in Mexico.

The Netherlands Kingdom Team traveled to Italy on Wednesday and played two exhibition games to prepare for the event. On Thursday, the Orange Team won 7-3 against Spain. On Friday, the Netherlands shutout Sweden 6-0 in a 5-inning game. After completion of these two games it was announced on Friday that pitcher Raf Cocu had been added to the roster to replace injured Franklin Van Gurp.

In the evening in Torino, Israel and Russia played the first extra-inning-game of the tournament. Russia opened the score in the fourth inning, Israel came alongside in the sixth. In the top of the ninth, Russia got a chance to re-take the lead, as it had the bases loaded with one out. After a pitching change, a double play ended the at bat. With an 1-1 tie, the game was decided in the tenth inning via the international tie-break rule in which the inning begins with runners on first and second base. In the top of the tenth, a double play and a strikeout ended the Russian at bat. In the bottom of the tenth, an error on a bunt led to a basesloaded situation for Israel. After a strikeout, the winning run was scored on a walk-off balk! The balk was called simultaneously by Dutch Home Plate Umpire Martijn Bosschaart and Austrian 3B Umpire Oswald Tscharf.

Two other Dutch Umpires also got into action today. In the game between Italy and Greece, Winfried Berkvens was behind the plate and Edwin Louisa was at first base. Louisa already had started the day at third in the opening-game between Sweden and the Czech Republic. Dutch Technical Commissioner Paul Bokern was assigned for the game between Croatia and Germany. There is another Dutch game-official in Italy, as Linda Steijger is the Scoring Director during this Championship.

(September 12)

Other scores Day 1:
Group A: Austria vs. Belgium 12-11; Italy vs. Greece 13-3 (6½ inn.).
Group B: Croatia vs. Germany 8-2; Spain vs. Ukraine 15-0 (5 inn.).
Group C: Israel vs. Russia 2-1 (10 inn.); Great Britain vs. France 7-2.
Group D: Sweden vs. Czech Republic 1-6.

Related Articles:
Roster-change Netherlands Team: Raf Cocu replaces Franklin Van Gurp. (September 10)
Netherlands Team shuts out Sweden in exhibition game. (September 10)
Netherlands Team wins exhibition game against Spain. (September 9)
Roster Netherlands Team announced for European Championship. (September 7)

In its first game of the tournament, the Netherlands faced Slovakia, which early July qualified for participation. Back then, Slovakia won one of the four European Championship Qualifiers. Playing at home in Bratislava, Slovakia won the Final against Ireland with a 12-2 score. The other three Qualifiers were won by Greece, Russia and Ukraine. During this Championship, Greece plays in Group A, Russia in Group C and Ukraine in Group B.

In the opener, the Orange Team led only 1-0 after two innings, scoring an unearned run in the first at bat. The team then rallied for six runs in the third inning to decide the outcome and was en route to a mercy-rule victory.

Oranje Manager Evert-Jan 'Hoen used 16 players, including five pitchers, in the first-ever game against Slovakia, which is ranked twelfth in Europe and 38th on the World Ranking List.

The game started with a highlight for Slovakia, as lead-off hitter Martin Brunegraf opened with a basehit in what is the first-ever game of the country in an European (Senior) Championship. Brunegraf, who is the Playing Manager of the team, recorded the basehit off of starting pitcher Lars Huijer, who then struckout the next three batters in the lone inning he threw.

The Netherlands opened the score in the bottom of the first inning with an unearned run off of starter Marko Vykoukal. With one out, he walked Roger Bernadina, then hit Ray-Patrick Didder with a pitch. The two advanced on a grounder by Juremi Profar and the at bat appeared to end with a grounder from Sharlon Schoop. However, an error was made and Bernadina scored. Didder and Schoop were left behind, as Vykoukal closed by striking out Dwayne Kemp.

Mike Bolsenbroek took over the Orange pitching in the second inning and retired the side (two strikeouts). Jayden Gonesh then became the third Netherlands-pitcher in the third inning. The rookie began with a strikeout, then walked the next batter, but struckout the following two.

After the Orange Team was held scoreless in its second at bat, the team rallied for six runs in the bottom of the third off of two pitchers. Lukáš Žilavý took over the pitching, but he encountered some problems with finding the strike-zone. The lefthander hit both Roger Bernadina (who stole second base) and Ray-Patrick Didder, then walked Juremi Profar, which loaded the bases. A wild pitch then enable Bernadina to score the first run in this at bat. Next, Žilavý also walked Sharlon Schoop, but that also ended win a wild pitch, which gave Didder the opportunity to score. With runners at the corners, Jaroslav Kosna took over the Slovak pitching, but he also ran into some problems. Kosna was greeted with a runscoring double by Dwayne Kemp, then a 2-run single by Junior Martina. Hereafter, Kosna uncorked two consecutive wild pitches on his first two deliveries to Dashenko Ricardo. That brought Martina to third base and he then scored on a grounder by Ricardo to make it a 7-0 score. With one out, John Polonius and Jiandido Tromp also singled and with that, the team had batted around. But they were left behind, as two flyouts ended the at bat.

Trailing 7-0, Slovakia got a chance to do some scoring in the top of the fourth inning, which ended with some confusion. Slovakia got the bases loaded with no outs off of Jayden Gonesh, but was unable to score. Mário Gottchall led off with a single, then Martin Lukačka and Jakub Horáček both walked. With the bases loaded, Gonesh struckout the next batter. Michal Puškár then grounded the ball towards first baseman Juremi Profar, who threw the ball to short stop John Polonius. Although the throw was a bit wide, Polonius forced out Horáček at second base. He then threw the ball back to Profar. However, it appeared that the ball was in the ground and picked up by Profar while Puškár arrived and Gottchall crossed home plate. The batter was called out by Italian 1B Umpire Alessandro Spera and so, it was an inning-ending double play and the run didn't count. However, Profar and some other players didn't immediately left the field and Gonesh walked back to the mound. They all appeared to think that the batter had reached first base safely, but they left once the out was confirmed. There was a brief discussion between the Home Plate Umipre and a Slovak coach, but the inning had ended.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Netherlands added two more runs. With one out, Sharlon Schoop and Dwayne Kemp singled and both scored on a following double by Junior Martina.

...Mike Bolsenbroek...
...winning pitcher...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
With a 9-0 lead, Raf Cocu became the new Orange-pitcher in the top of the fifth inning. The righthander was added to the roster on Friday to replace injured righthander Franklin Van Gurp. With that, Cocu made his Netherlands Team-debut. His second pitch to Jakub Ižold was hit into centerfield for a double. Cocu struckout the next two batters, then walked Tomáš Biskorovájny, but closed with another strikeout.

In the bottom of the fifth, Ižold became the new pitcher for Slovakia and he gave up the tenth Netherlands-run with two outs. With one out, Roger Bernadina singled, but he was forced out on a grounder by Ray-Patrick Didder. The latter then moved into scoring position on a single by Juremi Profar and scored on a single by pinch-hitter Calten Daal. With runners on first and second base, I&$382;old closed the inning by striking out pinch-hitter Denzel Richardson.

In the top of the sixth inning, all three Slovak batters struckout. The first two by Raf Cocu, the third one by Mike Groen. With that, Cocu struckout five batters in his Orange-debut.

Leading 10-0, the Netherlands added a 'mercy-rule insurance run'. With one out, catcher Dashenko Ricardo singled. Next batter John Polonius doubled down the rightfield-line. Ricardo was waved home and a close play at the plate followed. There, Ricardo was called out by Spanish Home Plate Umpire Cuauhtémoc Suárez Hernández. In one view, it appears that Ricardo tags the plate with his leg before being tagged by catcher Mário Gottchall. In another view, it appears that Ricardo is tagged on his leg before touching the plate. But Suárez was on top of the play and Ricardo was out. With two outs, Polonius scored when an error was made on a hard grounder by Jiandido Tromp.

In the top of the seventh inning, Mike Groen struckout the side. And that also ended the game.

Mike Bolsenbroek was credited with the win. As starting pitcher Lars Huijer left with an 1-0 lead, but didn't pitch the required five innings, it was up to the Official Scorers to determine the winning pitcher. When there is more than one reliever, the pitcher that throws the most effective according to the scorers is credited with the win. Jayden Gonesh threw the most innings of the four relievers and struckout four batters, but he also walked three and got the bases loaded. Bolsenbroek retired the side in the lone inning he threw, including two strikeouts.

The following players came into action for the Netherlands:
Jiandido Tromp (LF, 1-for-5), Roger Bernadina (CF, 1-for-3), Ray-Patrick Didder (RF, 0-for-2), Juremi Profar (1B, 1-for-3), Sharlon Schoop (2B, 1-for-2), Calten Daal (PH/2B, 1-for-1), Dwayne Kemp (DH, 2-for-3), Denzel Richardson (PH/DH, 0-for-1), Junior Martina (3B, 2-for-4), Dashenko Ricardo (C, 2-for-4), John Polonius (SS, 2-for-4) and pitchers Lars Huijer, Mike Bolsenbroek, Jayden Gonesh, Raf Cocu and Mike Groen.

Netherlands - Slovakia 11-0 (6½ inn.)
Slovakia0000000 -032
Netherlands106211X -11130
pitchers Slovakiainn.SOBBHRER
Marko Vykoukal, L (0-1)22111-

Lukáš Žilavý- (*)-2-44

Jaroslav Kosna2--744

Jakub Ižold11-311

Adam Zacko1--211

(*) - Žilavý pitched to four batters in the third inning

pitchers Netherlandsinn.SOBBHRER
Lars Huijer13-1--

Mike Bolsenbroek, W (1-0)12----

Jayden Gonesh, H (1)2431--

Raf Cocu1.2511--

Mike Groen1.14----

(Bolsenbroek credited with the win based on Rule 9.17 b)

Box Score
Umpires: HP-Cuauhtémoc Suárez Hernández (Spain), 1B-Alessandro Spera (Italy),
3B-Jiří Kroupa (Czech Rep.).
Official Scorer: Marco Rocci (Italy).
Play-by-Play Scorer: Stephanie Winkler (Germany).
Technical Commissioner: Christian Posny (Germany).
Starting Time-3:30 PM.
Time Played-2:14 hrs.
Site-Stadio Baseball Paschetto, Campo Comunale, Torino (Italy) (site Grizzlies Torino 48 Baseball Club).

Game Notes:
Raf Cocu makes his debut and also plays in his first international game for the Netherlands Team.
First international game of the Netherlands against Slovakia.
First victory of the Netherlands against Slovakia.
Weather conditions at game time:
Sunny, 28° C (82,4° F); wind direction east; wind speed 2 kmh (1,2 mph); wind force 2 Bft; humidity 41%.

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