Grand Slam
Baseball Recaps European Cup
June 14, 2006
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2006 by Marco Stoovelaar

Neptunus eliminated for Final Round!
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GROSSETO (Italy) - On the second day of the European Champions' Cup-tournament, DOOR Neptunus was left empty handed again. After losing its opening game on Tuesday to Italeri Fortitudo Bologna 3-2 in ten innings, the Rotterdam-squad lost 8-6 to T&A San Marino on Wednesday. Last year, San Marino reached the Italian Championship Final, but then lost to Bologna.
Because of this second loss, Neptunus was now almost surely eliminated for the Final Round. There was only a slight theoretical chance of reaching the final-four, but then not only Bologna had to be defeated in their last two games, Neptunus also had to win on Thursday vs. Marlins Puerto Cruz (Spain), resulting in a three-way tie. The final scores then also had to be in Neptunus' favor, as the runs given up are the tie-breaker in a 3-way tie.
When Neptunus is eliminated for the finals, it has to play in the Pool that decides the fifth through eighth place. On the other hand, San Marino almost secured itself of advancing to the Final Round.
Neptunus already trailed 5-0 in the second inning and was forced to go to the bullpen early. They came back to 5-4, hold a 6-6 tie in the fifth, but gave up two more (decisive) runs in the seventh inning.

In the evening, Italeri Fortitudo Bologna defeated Marlins Puerto Cruz 4-2, to decide the ranking in Pool B. With the win, both Bologna and San Marino clinced a spot in the semi-final. On Thursday, the two teams meet to decide first place in the pool. The win also meant that Neptunus was eliminated for the Final Round and has to play for fifth through eighth place.
In Pool A, Cupholder Le Colonnie della Maremma Grosseto Orioles (Italy) won 12-2 vs. Paderborn Untouchables (Germany) to become the first team to reach the Final Round. On Friday, Paderborn and Balashikha Tornados (Russia) meet to decide the second semi-finalist.

This was a must-win game for Neptunus in order to reach the semi-finals. The team opted to go with rookie Kevin Heijstek as its starting pitcher, but the righthander gave up three hits and three runs in the first inning. He first walked lead-off hitter Ettore Finetti, then gave up a single to Marco Benvenutti, which was followed by an RBI-double by Oscar Salazar, that gave San Marino a quick 1-0 lead. Heijstek then struckout next batter Dean Rovinelli. With runners on second and third base, Maximiliano De Biase was walked intentionally to set up a force play. However, veteran powerhitter David Sheldon followed with a 2-run double to increase the lead to 3-0. A strikeout and a groundout then ended the inning, but the damage has been done.

In the second inning, Pierluigi Bissa led off with a single and advanced on a sac-bunt. Heijstek then walked Marco Benvenutti and was relieved by more experienced Gregory Gustina. The lefthander inherited Heijstek's runners and saw both score as he first gave up an RBI-double to Oscar Salazar (his second in two innings), followed by a sac-fly by Dean Rovinelli. A groundout ended the inning, but the score was now 5-0.

In the home second, Neptunus appeared to recover and managed to come back fine, scoring four runs on five basehits and narrow the deficit to 5-4. Lennart Koster led off with a single and then an error was made on a grounder by Evert-Jan 't Hoen. The two runners moved on a sac-bunt by Melfried Comenencia, then both scored on a single by Jeffrey Arends. Next, Jeroen Sluijter and Johnny Balentina also singled to bring in another run. After Benjamin Dille flied out, Raily Legito added an RBI-single that made it 5-4, before Yuji Nerei grounded out to end the inning.

In the third inning, San Marino got one run back immediately. David Sheldon led off with a single, moved to third base on two errors, then scored on a single by Pierluigi Bissa, before a double play ended the at bat.

Trailing 6-4, Neptunus came alongside in the fifth at bat. San Marino-starter Luca Martignoni had retired eight batters in a row since the second inning when he gave up a one-out single to Raily Legito in the fifth. After Legito had stolen second base, Yuji Nerei walked. Rookie Lennart Koster then followed with a 2-run double that tied the score. Koster had good contact today, as he also had a line drive in the eighth inning, but then was caught out by the second baseman. Martignoni was relieved by veteran Daniel Newman, who has a long career in Italian baseball and its national team. The lefthander ended the inning with two strikeouts and would allow only three more batters to reach base in the next four innings. Two of them walked, but were eliminated in a double play. In the ninth, he gave up a 2-out single to Johnny Balentina, but then ended the game with a strikeout.

Two innings earlier, San Marino had retook the lead by scoring two runs. Marco Benvenutti led off with a single and advanced on a one-out single by Dean Rovinelli. Benvenutti was then replaced by pinch-runner Pietro Lonfernini, who scored on a 2-out single by David Sheldon, who was 3-for-5 and had three RBI's. Next, Rovinelli increased the lead to 8-6 by scoring on a single by Simone Albanese.
(June 14)

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Last Update: June 14, 2006
Copyright © 1997-2006 Marco Stoovelaar.