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Updated: June 30, 2018
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
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Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2018 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)

Netherlands stuns Denmark and wins Silver on European Championship

HAVLÍČKŮV BROD / KOSTELEC NAD ORLICÍ (Czech Rep.) - The Netherlands Men Softball Team stunned Denmark in the Backdoor-game on Saturday (June 30) by winning 5-3 to reach the all-deciding Final of the 14th European Championship. Moments later, in the Final, the Orange squad was unable to record another surprise win and lost 10-3 to host Czech Republic.

The last time that the Netherlands won the Silver Medal was in 2012 when the event was held in Amstelveen (Netherlands). Back then, the Netherlands also faced the Czech Republic in the Final and lost 9-2. Two years ago, the Dutch ended up in fourth place in Montegrenaro (Italy).

On Friday, the Netherlands stunned with a win against the Czech Republic to reach the first Semi-Final. With that, the team also secured itself of qualification for next years World Championship, which also will be held in the Czech Republic. That will be the first Men Softball World Championship to be organized in Europe.

By losing the Backdoor-game, Denmark finished in third place. Two years ago, the team ended up short in the Final against the Czechs and lost 7-1.

In this years Final, the Czechs struck early and scored three runs in the first and second inning. For the Czechs, this is their tenth European title and fourth in a row. Only two other countries have captured an European Men Softball-title, being Netherlands (3x) and Denmark (1x).

The last time that the Netherlands won the title was in 2003 when tournament was held in Choceň (Czech Republic). In that year, the Dutch and Czechs also faced each other in the Final. The Oranje squad then won with a 3-2 score. The Netherlands also won the first two European Championships, which were held in 1993 and 1995.

Dutch umpire Arjan de Wever was behind the plate om Friday-evening in the Semi-Final between Great Britain and Denmark. On the final day, De Wever didn't get into action, which of course had to do with the results of the Netherlands Team. As he had no assignment in the first two games on Saturday, De Wever probably was a candidate to be part of the umpiring crew in the Final. But when the Netherlands won the Backdoor-game, the assignments changed.

Besides De Wever, there was another Dutch official active, as Hans Hornstra was the Head Umpire-in-Chief.

(June 30)

Netherlands vs. Denmark (Backdoor/Bronze Medal-game)
In the exciting Backdoor-game, which was played at the main-site in Havlíčkův Brod, the Netherlands trailed 2-1, but struck in the sixth inning with four runs. In the Preliminary Round, Denmark had shutout the Netherlands 15-0 in a 3-inning game.

The first four innings remained scoreless, but Denmark failed to open the score in the top of the first inning off of Jeroen Mulder, who went the distance for the Orange squad. In its first at bat, Denmark got the bases loaded with two outs, but a force out ended the inning, meaning three runners were left behind.

In the following inning, a runner stranded on first base. In the third, Mulder was supported with a double play, then closed the inning with a strikeout with a runner on first base. Another Danish runner was left at first base in the fourth.

Denmark then opened the score with two runs in the fifth inning. Both were unearned, as the inning began with what could have been a costly error. Lead-off hitter Valdermar Terkelsen reached on an error, then scored the first run on a 2-out triple by his brother Frederik Terkelsen. A following sacrifice fly by Daniel Julenon made it a 2-0 score.

Veteran Kim Hansen went the distance for Denmark. He struckout eleven hitters, but also seven basehits and ended up short.

Hansen initialy dominated in the first four innings. He retired the first eleven batters he faced, including seven with a strikeout. With two outs in the fourth, he gave up a single to Eldrick Dijkhoff, but he was left behind.

Trailing 2-0, the Orange got one run back in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Emeron Lourens walked, moved on a fielder's choice, then scored on a 2-out single by Idel Raap.

After Jeroen Mulder had retired the side in the top of the sixth (two strikeouts), the Dutch struck with a 4-run rally in its sixth at bat to turn the game its way. Jeff Delfina led off with a homerun to tie the score, then Glennsig Polonius singled. With one out, Enrique Javier drove the ball over the fence in left-centerfield to put the Netherlands ahead, 4-2. Hereafter, Enio Kwas singled and advanced on an error, then his pinch-runner Quincy Jones scored on a following double by Emeron Lourens. The Dutch left runners behind on second and third base, but now led 5-2.

In the top of the seventh, the suspense arose. Pinch-hitter Lukas Lohmann was hit by a pitch, moved on a passed ball and a grounder, then scored on a double by Anders Svane to make it a 5-3 score. The latter then advanced to third base on a passed ball with two outs, but a grounder ended the inning and the game!

The Netherlands had reached the Final!

Netherlands vs. Czech Republic (Final)
In the Final, the Netherlands faced a quick 6-0 deficit, as the Czechs scored three runs in the first and second inning.

In the first at bat, a single by Patrick Kopečný and 2-run double by Tomáš Klein accounted for the runs off of starter Niek Nieuwenhuizen.

In the second inning, with runners on first and second base and one out, Jeroen Mulder took over the pitching. But this time, he wasn't as successful as against Denmark. The two runners advanced on a wild pitch, then Klein homered to make it a 6-0 score.

In the third inning, two more Czech-runs were added on a homerun by Václav Svoboda off of new pitcher Angel Brunken.

With an 8-0 lead, the Czechs appeared to be en route to an early mercy-rule victory, but the Dutch Team avoided that by scoring twice in the top of the fourth.

With one out, the Netherlands got the bases loaded when Glennsig Polonius, Eldrick Dijkhoff and Enrique Javier all singled. With two outs, two runs were scored when Emeron Lourens also singled, but the inning then ended with a strikeout.

In its fourth and fifth at bat, the Czechs failed to do some more scoring, thanks to the Dutch pitching and defense. In the fourth, the first two Czech batters reached base, but hereafter, Emeron Lourens entered as new pitcher and struckout two of the next three hitters. In between, a runner was forced out at third base. In the fifth, the Czechs also stranded two runners.

The Netherlands then scored its third run in the top of the sixth on a force play-grounder by Emeron Lourens, but that was to be it.

Moments later, in the bottom of the sixth, Tomáš Klein led off with a walk and Matouš Kasal followed with a walk-off, 2-run homerun. And with that, the game ended via the mercy-rule after all.

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