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Updated: June 25, 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 Rein Merkx)

Jeff Delfina slams Netherlands to win on Day 5 European Championship after forfeit

LEDENICE / SEZIMOVO ÚSTÍ (Czech Rep.) - On Day 5 of the 15th Men's Softball European Championship in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands played its final game in the preliminary round on Friday (June 25). In Sezimovo Ústí, the Orange Team faced Slovakia and won the highscoring game 16-15 on a grand slam homerun by Jeff Delfina.

On Thursday-evening, the game of the Netherlands against the Czech Republic was halted in the bottom of the fourth inning. With the Czechs leading 7-0, the game already was delayed for twelve minutes in the top of the second inning due to rain. After the game had resumed, the Czechs added two more runs. But in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Umpiring Crew halted the game due to lightning, as there were thunderstorms in the area. Another 12-minute delay followed, but with one out, another interruption followed, as the lightning became somewhat heavier and later, it also started to rain again. In the end, after some 30 minutes, the game was halted definitively. Initially, at that moment, it appeared that the game was halted due to the weather conditions and was to be completed today. But apparently, at some moment on Thursday-evening during the third delay, it was the intention to resume the game. However, as there was still lightning visible around the field and thunder could also be heard, the management of the Netherlands Team refused to continue under these circumstances, stating that 'the safety of our players is our priority'. With that, at that moment, the game was declared a forfeit and a 7-0 win for the Czechs. And thus a loss for the Netherlands. With that, the remainder of the game not needed to be completed today.

Later in the evening, it was reported that a heavy tornado had struck the southern part of the Czech Republic near the borders with Slovakia and Austria in an area southeast of Brno. There, the cities of Hodonín (24,000 inhabitants) and Břeclav (25,000 inhabitants) were struck hard and unfortunately, there were some fatalities, more than 200 injured and a lot of damage. Although the two cities are some 250 km east of Ledenice, the lightning and thunderstorms in the area on Thursday-evening which caused the game to be halted were part of the offshoots of the tornado that developed. It was reported that it was the most powerful tornado ever that hit the Czech Republic.

The Czech Republic and Denmark both won their seventh game today to secure their spot in the Final. The Czechs won 10-0 against Lithuania, Denmark won 8-0 against France, which was in third place and still had a chance to reach the Final. By reaching the Final, the Czech Republic and Denmark also qualified for the WBSC Men's World Cup 2022, which will be organized November 26-December 4 next year in Auckland, New Zealand. The World Cup initially was scheduled for February this year, but was postponed.

In the evening, the Czech Republic and Denmark closed the preliminary against each other and played a close game. The Czechs remained unbeaten, but trailed 5-1 halfway the fifth inning. The Czech Team then rallied for five runs and nipped Denmark 6-5.

For the Netherlands, the scenario that was reported in yesterday's recap, became reality. Fourth placed Croatia indeed lost its final two games today. The team lost 16-9 against France in the morning, then 11-2 against Israel in the afternoon. Thereafter, the Netherlands won against Slovakia. With that, the Netherlands and Croatia ended up in a tie for fourth place. However, Croatia won the head-to-head game on Tuesday with a 7-6 score and that proves to be a costly loss for the Orange Team. Because of this, Croatia finished in fourth place and will meet France on Saturday in the Bronze Medal-game. The Netherlands finished in fifth place and therefore will play against Israel and Slovakia on Saturday for fifth through seventh place. The team will play its first game at 9 AM.

That means that the Netherlands will not be in the top-four of the European Championship for the first time in history. Since the first Championship was organized in 1993, the Netherlands won the title three times, finished in second place four times and also won bronze four times. In three tournaments, the Netherlands finished in fourth place. That happened in 2008 (in Denmark), 2010 (in Czech Republic) and 2016 (in Italy). Three years ago, the Netherlands played in the Final against the Czech Republic.

(June 25)

Other scores of Day 5
France vs. Croatia 16-9 (6 inn.); Slovakia vs. Sweden 10-5; Czech Recpublic vs. Lithuania 10-0 (3½ inn.); Israel vs. Croatia 11-2 (4½ inn.); Denmark vs. France 8-0 (4½ inn.); Lithuania vs. Israel 1-14 (5 inn.); Czech Republic vs. Denmark 6-5.

Netherlands vs. Slovakia
In this highscoring game, there were 31 runs, 32 basehits and a lot of baserunners. And only two errors, one by each team. So, there was a lot of traffic on the bases, which means a lot of work for the Official Scorers.

The Netherlands was outhit 19-13 by Slovakia, but Jeff Delfina accounted for the most important hit of the day, as he decided the outcome with a grand slam homerun in the sixth inning. For Delfina, this was his second grand slam homerun in three days! On Wednesday, the centerfielder hit one against Israel. On Thursday, the lefthanded hitter hit an inside-the-park-homerun against Sweden.

Slovakia had the lead four times, the biggest of them halfway the sixth inning with a 15-9 score. The Netherlands erased the deficit each time. In the first inning, the team came alongside, then had the lead twice later in the game. But in the bottom of the sixth, the team rallied for seven runs to take a decisive lead.

It was the tenth time that the Netherlands and Slovakia played against each other. In the previous nine games, the Netherlands scored 119 runs, while Slovakia managed to score only four! Today, Slovakia collected 15 runs!

Three years ago, in 2018, at the European Championship in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands recorded a 9-0 shutout. Before that, Slovakia had last played in the Championship in 2010, when the event also was held in the Czech Republic. Back then, the team scored its last runs against against the Netherlands in what was a 12-2 win for the Orange Team. Current Orange-players Anthony Beaumont and Enrique Javier also played for the Netherlands then.

Today, it was Slovakia that opened the score in the top of the first inning off of starter Enio Kwas. With two outs, Jaroslav Sitár connected well and homered.

That first lead was shortlived, as the Netherlands came alongside in its first at bat off of Tomáš Kratochvíl. The lefthanded pitcher is the workhorse of the Slovak team and pitched in seven of the eight games so far. With one out, Dyron Juaquin walked and moved to third base on a single by Enrique Javier. With two outs, Juaquin scored the tying run in a double-steal situation.

From the second inning on, the lead went back and forth in the game, which took almost three hours to complete.

In the top of the second inning, the Slovaks scored three runs with two outs. After the first two batters had flied out, Erik Tužinský and Tomáš Kessl both singled. Peter Fecko followed with an RBI-double and Marek Ostrihoň added a 2-run triple.

The Netherlands answered with four runs in the bottom of the second. Rob Hassink led off with a walk, then Job Kremer homered. Veteran Anthony Beaumont then doubled, moved to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Myron Juaquin and scored the tying run on a double by Jeff Delfina. Hereafter, Delfina tried to advance to third base on a short grounder in front of home plate by Dyron Juaquin, but was eliminated. Moments later, Juaquin scored the leading run on a double by Enrique Javier.

After the lone inning in today's game in which both teams didn't score, Slovakia took the lead for the third time in the top of the fourth. That was done off of Sontje Angelista, who took over the pitching for the Orange Team in this at bat. He got two quick outs, but then gave up a homerun to Peter Fecko, which tied the score. Marek Ostrihoň and Jarosvlav Sitár then both singled, which led to runners at the corners. Next batter Richard Gottschall also singled to put Slovakia ahead 6-5. The team then got the bases loaded when Michal Pavolka walked, but Angelista then closed with a strikeout. And with that, three runners were left behind.

Again, in the bottom of the fourth, the Netherlands was able to come back immediately, erase the deficit and took the lead for the second time. With one out, Dyron Juaquin walked, advanced on a single by Enrique Javier and scored the tying run when that was followed by an error. Jazz Voogd then walked and Forstine Coenraad followed with a single that enabled Javier to score the go-ahead run. The bases got loaded when Rob Hassink walked and the next run was added on a sacrifice fly by Job Kremer. Coenraad moved to third base on the sac-fly, then scored the fourth run in the at bat, while Hassink was eliminated in a rundown between first and second base in a steal-attempt.

...Jeff Delfina...
...grand slam...
(© Photo: Rein Merkx)
However, the game and the scoring were far from over. In the top of the fifth inning, trailing 9-6, it was Slovakia that scored four runs to take the lead for the fourth time. The team got the bases loaded quickly. Peter Samek led off with a walk and Erik Tužinský reached on an infield-hit. After the two had moved on a wild pitch, Tomáš Kessl walked. Next batter Peter Fecko popped the ball up in the air in the infield. Although the ball dropped, Fecko was automatically out because of the infield-fly rule. With one out, Marek Ostrihoň cleared the bases with a 3-run triple that tied the score at 9-9. With Ostrihoň, who is one of the two best hitters of Slovakia, on third base, an intentional walk was given to Jaroslav Sitár, who is the other productive hitter in the team. With Richard Gottschall in the batter's box and the count op 1-2, pitcher Sontje Angelista threw the ball in the ground while Sitár took off to steal second base. While blocking the ball, catcher Anthony Beaumont was hit by the ball, dropped on his left knee, made a throw to second base, then fell backwards. After getting back to his feet, the veteran player walked to the Orange dug-out with an apparent injury. After a brief delay, he was replaced by Coen Merkx, who then completed the at bat of Gottschalk, who had a 2-2 count. He then hit a grounder to short stop Dyron Juaquin. On contact, Ostrihoň took off to score, but Juaquin threw the ball to Merkx who got the runner in a rundown and he was tagged out by third baseman Myron Juaquin. Michal Pavolka followed with a single and on this hit, Sitár scored to give Slovakia a 10-9 lead.

After the Orange Team was retired in order in the bottom of the fifth, Slovakia rallied for five more runs in the top of the sixth. Emeron Lourens (who had entered as pinch-hitter in the fifth), took over the pitching for the Netherlands, but he saw lead-off hitter Peter Samek reach on an error. The bases then got loaded when Erik Tužinský and Tomáš Kessl both reached on an infield-hit. Lourens followed with a strikeout, but then gave up a runscoring single to Marek Ostrihoň. Slovakia added three more runs hereafter while keeping the bases loaded. First, Jaroslav Sitár was hit by a pitch, then Richard Gottschall and Michal Pavolka followed with singles. The fifth run in the at bat was then scored by Sitár on a wild pitch with the ball leaving the field through a hole in the fence of the backstop! After Sitár had scored, Netherlands Head Coach Ben ten Pas to ask about the ruling. The umpiring crew briefly got together, but the run scored was allowed. Ten Pas argued some more, stating that because of the hole it was not possible that the ball could bounce back and the run might not have scored. But Sitár had scored and Slovakia led 15-9. Lourens struckout the next batter and a grounder ended the at bat, but Slovakia appeared to have taken a decisive lead.

But that was not the case, as the Netherlands answered with a 7-run rally! And they did it with two outs! With that, the team erased Slovakia's fourth lead and this time turned the game around for good. With one out, Enrique Javier walked and pinch-hitter Revin Brooks doubled. With two outs, the bases got loaded when Rob Hassink walked. And then the rally began. Like Slovakia did in the top of the sixth, then first three runs were scored one by one while keeping the bases loaded. Javier scored the first run on an infield-hit by Job Kremer. Hereafter, Brooks and Hassink respectively scored when Coen Merkx and Emeron Lourens both walked. That brought up Jeff Delfina, who was the ninth Orange-batter in this inning. With the bases still loaded and an 0-1 count, Delfina drilled the ball into deep rightfield for a grand slam homerun! His second in three days and this one gave the Orange Team a 16-15 lead! With Slovakia now trailing, Peter Samek took over the pitching. He gave up a single to Dyron Juaquin and walked Enrique Javier, but a force play-grounder ended the long and productive at bat.

With one out in the top of the seventh inning, Emeron Lourens got two baserunners, but both were forced out. And that ended this game which had a lot to offer and saw two teams that were totally equal, taking the lead back and forth.

Netherlands - Slovakia 16-15
pitchers Slovakiainn.SOBBHRER
Tomáš Kratochvíl, L (3-4)5.2311121616

Peter Samek0.1-11--

pitchers Netherlandsinn.SOBBHRER
Enio Kwas32-744

Sontje Angelista224766

Emeron Lourens, W (2-2)221554

Homeruns: Slovakia: Jaroslav Sitár (4)(1st,solo,2 outs,off Kwas), Peter Fecko (1)(4th,solo,2 outs,off Angelista); Netherlands: Job Kremer (1)(2nd,2-run,0 outs,off Kratochvíl), Jeff Delfina (3)(6th,grand slam,2 outs,off Kratochvíl).
Box Score
HP-????, 1B-????, 3B-????.
Official Scorer-Lenka Richterová (Czech Rep.).
Technical Commissioner-????.
Starting Time-4:30 PM.
Time Played-2:42 hrs.
Site-Softball Complex Sezimovo Ústí (Czech Republic) (site Softballový klub Hladovi hroši Sezimovo Ústí).

Game Notes:
291st international game of the Netherlands Men's Softball Team.
10th in history between the Netherlands and Slovakia.
10th victory of the Netherlands against Slovakia.
Weather conditions at game time:
Overcast, 22° C (71,6° F); wind direction west-northwest; wind speed 8 kmh (4,9 mph); wind force 1 Bft; humidity 56%.

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