(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)
Netherlands wins Bronze on European Championship Under-15; Final halted by rain
BRNO (Czech Rep.) / TRNAVA (Slovakia) -
The Netherlands came from behind and went on to win 5-3 against Italy to win the Bronze Medal on the final day of the 28th edition of the European Championship Under-15 in the Czech city of Brno.
Two years ago, in Nettuno (Italy), the Netherlands also finished in third place.
Reigning champion Germany finished in fifth place this time.
The Final between host Czech Republic and France was suspended halfway the fifth inning due to heavy rain and lightning with a 4-4 score.
After some 40 minutes, the game was halted definitively.
The Technical Commission announced that the Czech Republic was the winner of the tournament, based on the total of wins during the tournament (CEB Competitions Rules).
The Czech Team won three games, France won two of its three games played.
By winning the European title, the Czech Republic qualified for the World Cup Under-15, which will be organized next year.
This is the fourth title for the Czechs and its first since 2016.
In the preliminary round, the Netherlands played in Pool B which played its games in Trnava.
The team opened the European Championship on Wednesday (July 21) with a big 15-0 shutout-win against Austria in a 4-inning game.
Kimi Verkruijssen and Tristan Kuijer, who both threw two innings, threw a combined No-Hitter.
On Thursday, the Orange Team recorded another big win (15-1) against Slovakia in a 5-inning game.
The team collected thirteen basehits, including three by Tyrell Mercado Reyes, who also scored three runs.
In this game, the Orange-pitching gave up only one basehit.
On Friday, the Netherlands closed the preliminary round with a big 12-2 loss in six innings against Italy, which scored four runs in the first and fifth inning.
After completion of the preliminary round, the Netherlands Team traveled to Brno, where it played its next games in the weekend.
On Saturday, the Netherlands suffered another big, mercy-rule loss in the Semi-Final against the Czech Republic, which won 10-0 in 4½ inning.
There were only two Orange-basehits in this game.
In the Bronze Medal-game on Sunday-afternoon, the Netherlands again faced Italy, which had lost its Semi-Final against France with a 9-7 score.
And the Orange Team took revenge after earlier having suffered a big loss against Italy, which was led by former National Team-player Roberto De Franceschi.
The Netherlands, which was led by former National Team and Dutch big league-pitcher Eelco Jansen, opened the score with two runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Amarensio Franka led off with a single, then Mauricio Montenegro Espinoza was hit by a pitch.
After the two had advanced via a double-steal, Franka scored the first run on a sacrifice fly by Tyrell Mercado Reyes.
Hereafter, Montenegro moved to third base on a single by Junairo Ostiana, then scored on a single by Moos van Genderen.
Italy was kept scoreless in the first two innings by starter Tobias Imming, but then scored three runs in the top of the third.
Giacomo De Donno led off with a walk, then Franceso Gallo doubled with one out.
The two then scored on a single by Lorenzo Barbona and a grounder by Edoardo Cornelli to make it a 2-2 score.
With Barbona (who had stolen second base) on third base, Mattia Bernardis walked.
An important moment then followed.
On the first delivery from Imming to next batter Giacomo Taschin, Slovak Field Umpire Mojmír Jankovič immediately called a balk.
With that, the two runners were awarded the next base, Barbona scored and Italy took a 3-2 lead.
Italy again got runners at the corners when Taschin singled and that led to a pitching change.
Thijs Helms took over.
He began with a walk, but then got an inning-ending grounder.
The Orange Team immediately came alongside in the bottom of the third inning, but failed to score more runs.
Tyrell Mercado Reyes led off with a walk (and stole second base), then pinch-hitter D'mani Boedhoe also walked.
After a double-steal and with one out, Mercado scored the tying run on a fielder's choice-grounder by Jamie Beerman.
He grounded towards first base and it was tried to stop Mercado from scoring, but he safely crossed home plate.
Moments later, Boedhoe stole third base, then the bases got loaded when Jorrit Patist walked.
A pitching change followed, but the three runners were left behind, as an infield-fly and strikeout closed the at bat.
From the fourth inning on, Orange-pitcher Thijs Helms kept Italy scoreless.
He struckout three batters in the fourth inning, two of them with a runner on first base.
The Netherlands re-took the lead in the bottom of the fourth.
Amarensio Franka led off with a single and next batter Mauricio Montenegro Espinoza placed a bunt.
A throwing error towards first base ended up in foul territory in rightfield, which enabled Franka to score.
Montenegro, who was credited with a bunt-single, moved to second base on the throwing error, but was left behind.
Italy got a chance to come alongside in the top of the fifth.
Edoardo Cornelli led off with a double and continued trying to stretch it into a triple.
A bad throw towards third base followed, but the Orange-defense got a lucky break, as the ball bounced back and was picked up by pitcher Thijs Helms.
He then got the ball in time to third baseman Keegan Pieternella, who made a nice play and tagged out the sliding Cornelli.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Netherlands added an insurance run.
Lead-off hitter Jamie Beerman reached on an error and stole second base.
Jorrit Patist then walked and a pitching change followed.
Beerman and Patist advanced on a wild pitch.
Hereafter, Beerman scored on a sacrifice fly by Keegan Pieternella.
After the flyout, Patist tried to advance to third base, but he was eliminated there, which completed a double play.
|...Thijs Helms (winning pitcher)...|
...Amarensio Franka (4 hits, save)...
Italy was retired in order in the sixth inning.
With two outs in the seventh (which was the last inning), Lorenzo Barbona walked.
Amarensio Franka was then inserted as new pitcher and he got a flyout that ended the inning and the game.
With that, Franka earned a save.
He also accounted for four of the seven Orange-basehits in this game.
In Final in the evening, France trailed 1-0 after two innings against the Czech Republic, but then rallied for four runs in the top of the third inning.
Although France played a good game, the team was unable to hold onto the lead.
The Czech Team narrowed the deficit to 4-3 by scoring twice in the bottom of the third, then came alongside in the fourth.
In the top of the fifth inning, it started to rain.
After completion of that at bat, the rain not only became heavier, there also was some heavy lightning.
The game was interrupted and after a long delay of some 40 minutes, it was clear the field had become unplayable.
With that, the game was halted definitively.
It was then decided to award the European title to the Czechs, based on the total victories in the entire tournament.
The Netherlands roster was as follows:
Pitchers: Tijn Fredrikze, Tobias Imming, Tristan Kuijer, Joris Meinsma, Leandro Salazar Mata, Tim Scholte, Kimi Verkruijssen.
Catchers: Moos van Genderen (+OF), Jorrit Patist (+IF), Keegan Pieternella (+IF), Lorenzo Willem (+IF).
Infielders: Jayden van Atten, Jamie Beerman (+OF), D'mani Boedhoe (+OF), Amarensio Franka, Mauricio Montenegro Espinoza, Junairo Ostiana (+OF), Otis Ward (+OF).
Outfielders: Thijs Helms (+P), Tyrell Mercado Reyes.
Coaching-staff: Eelco Jansen (Manager), Tjerk Smeets (Bench Coach), Jesse Aussems (1B Coach), Marvin Bleij (3B Coach), Kaj Timmermans (Pitching Coach, through Friday).
There were no Umpires from the Netherlands in this tournament, but the Technical Commission was headed by Paul Bokern.
1. Czech Republic, 2. France, 3. Netherlands, 4. Italy, 5. Germany, 6. Slovakia, 7. Austria.
(Czech Republic wins European title and qualifies for 2022 World Cup Under-15; Austria relegates).
Most Valuable Player: Filip Kubicek (Czech Rep.).
Best Hitter: Florent Riep (France).
Best Pitcher (ERA): Jan Kozel (Czech Rep.).