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Updated: August 21, 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 Olympia Haarlem)

European Cup Winners Cup: Olympia Haarlem wins Cup in thrilling Final!

SARONNO / LEGNANO / BOVISIO-MASCIAGO (Italy) - Olympia Haarlem came from behind in a thrilling Final against Inox Team Saronno on Saturday-evening (August 21) to win 3-2 and capture the European Cup Winners Cup. For Olympia, this is the third time that the team wins the Cup Winners Cup. The team earlier won the event in 2016 and 2017. Opponent Saronno was participating in its first European Cup-tournament. In 2006, the club was co-host of the tournament, but then didn't participate themselves.

On Monday, Olympia Haarlem won its first two games in the First Round. The team shutout Zürich Challengers from Switzerland 11-0 in 3½ inning, then outscored Chicaboo's Stabroek from Belgium with an 8-2 score.

On Tuesday, the Haarlem-team recorded a convincing 8-0 shutout-win in 4½ inning against Crazy Chicklets (Austria) in its first game in the Second Round.

On Wednesday, Olympia Haarlem added two victories. The team first recorded a 13-0 shutout-win in four innings against Carrousel (Russia). In the evening, another mercy-rule victory was added by winning 10-2 in five innings against Viladecans (Spain).

On Thursday, Olympia Haarlem won 7-6 against Eagles Praha (Czech Republic) in the afternoon, then lost 8-5 to host Saronno in the evening. After conclusion of the games on Thursday, it was clear that both Olympia Haarlem and Saronno had secured a spot in the Final.

On Friday, Olympia closed the Championship Round with an 11-0 shutout-win in 3½ inning against Chicaboo's Stabroek.

Today, in the Final, Olympia was outhit 8-5 and trailed 2-0 after five innings, but then struck with three runs to turn the game its way.

(August 21)

Other scores Day 6:
9th-10th place: Neunkirchen Nightmares vs. Medvednica 10-3 (5 inn.).
3rd-4th place: Eagles Praha vs. Carrousel 0-2.

Final Standings:
1. Olympia Haarlem (Netherlands), 2. Saronno (Italy), 3. Carrousel (Russia), 4. Eagles Praha (Czech Rep.), 5. Viladecans (Spain), 6. Chicaboo's Stabroek (Belgium),
7. Crazy Chicklets (Austria), 8. Trnava Panthers (Slovakia), 9. Neunkirchen Nightmares (Germany), 10. Medvednica (Croatia),
11. Les Pharaons d'Evry-Courcouronnes (France), 12. Gepardy Żory (Poland), 13. Zürich Challengers (Switzerland), 14. Fireballs (Israel).

Olympia Haarlem vs. Inox Team Saronno

...Olympia Haarlem celebrates winning the Cup...
(© Photo: Olympia Haarlem)
Olympia Haarlem had good contact from the first inning on, but faced a 2-0 deficit after five innings, then turned the game around in the sixth inning. The team faced Cuban righthander Yamerky Guevara Limonta, who frequently slowed the pace of the game with her pitching-manners. Before every pitch, she swept gravel together in front of the pitching plate, she regularly looked to her dug-out, occasionally picked up gravel, walked around the plate and also wiped along her pants with her throwing hand before every pitch. This week, the righthander was a pick-up player in the team of Saronno, as she plays for Taurus Donati Gomme Old Parma in the regular season in Italy.

In the top of the first inning, Brenda Beers and Dinet Oosting, the first two batters of Olympia Haarlem, drove hard line drives into the outfield, but the balls were caught. A pop-fly ended the first at bat.

Saronno got into scoring position in it first at bat off of starter Lindsey Meadows, who this tournament was a guest-player in the team of Olympia Haarlem. With two outs, she gave up a single to Venezuelan National Team-player Milagros Lozada Lago, then walked Giulia Longhi, who is a player of the Italian National Team. But they were left behind when a grounder ended the at bat.

After Olympia Haarlem was retired in order again in the top of the second, Saronno got another runner in scoring position in the bottom of the second. Gioia Tittarelli and guest-player Noa Armirotto opened the at bat with singles. The first was then forced out at third base. Armirotto, who plays in the Dutch big league for Onze Gezellen, stranded on second base.

Olympia Haarlem got its first baserunner with two outs in the top of the third inning. Lisa Hop then singled, but was caught stealing moments later.

Saronno, which lost the best-of-five Italian Championship Series (3-1) last season to MKF Bollate, opened the score in the bottom of the third. American Brittany Abacherli (who was born in Corona, California) led off with a homerun.

In the top of the fourth inning, Olympia Haarlem got into scoring position for the first time in the Final. With one out, Dinet Oosting singled and moved on a grounder by Jessie van Aalst, but was left behind.

Saronno got a chance to take some more distance in the bottom of the fourth inning, but failed to do so. With that, this at bat probably was the most crucial for the Italian team in the Final, as it could have scored more runs. Lead-off hitter Gioia Tittarelli reached on an error, then Noa Armirotto reached on a bunt-single. Hereafter, not only a pitching change followed. With two runners on base and no outs, this was a bunt-situation and so, Olympia's Head Coach Stanley Doney also made a tactical defensive change, which proved to be successful. Alyson Spinas-Valainis entered as new pitcher, replacing Lindsey Meadows. Besides that, centerfielder Cindy van der Zanden (who also is an infielder) was moved in to become an extra infielder. Rightfielder Jessie van Aalst moved over to centerfield, leaving rightfield open. The sacrifice bunt indeed followed and batter Nicoletta Motta was eliminated, as Van der Zanden took over first base to complete the out. With runners now on second and third base, another bunt-attempt followed by next batter Valeria Bettinsoli. However, her bunt went foul and as she already had an 0-2 count, that ended in a crucial strikeout. With the defense back to normal, the inning ended with a groundout. With that, the score remained only 1-0.

Olympia Haarlem came very close to the tying run in the top of the fifth inning. Mariëlle Vleugels led off with a line drive stand-up triple down the rightfield-line. However, the Haarlem-team was unable to score. With pinch-runner Yindi Beekveldt on third base, American righthander Kelly Barnhill took over from the Cuban starter. She first got a grounder from Cindy van der Zanden, which kept Vleugels at third base. Barnhill then closed with two strikeouts.

In the bottom of the fifth, Saronno doubled its lead with two outs. Giulia Longhi then drove the ball into deep right/centerfield. There, rightfielder Jessie van Aalst ran backwards and appeared to make a great over-the-fence catch. However, due to her running backwards, Van Aalst collided with the fence and lost control of the ball, which dropped on the wrong side of the fence for Olympia. With that, it became a homerun and Saronno led 2-0.

The suspense in the game rose even more in the top of the sixth inning, as Olympia Haarlem got into scoring position again. This time, Olympia struck and turned the game around. Lisa Hop led off with a line drive infield-hit. Short stop Noa Armirotto jumped up, but was unable to catch the ball. Next batter Brenda Beers walked. With an 1-0 count on next batter Dinet Oosting, Saronno's Head Coach Larry Castro came to the pitching circle to make a change. Cuban Yamerky Guevara Limonta re-entered and this time, the Olympia-batters had better contact. Guevara was greeted with a runscoring single from Oosting that narrowed the deficit to 2-1. Hereafter, Jessie van Aalst hit the ball into rightfield, where Nicoletta Motta missed the ball. That enabled both Beers and Oosting to score to put Olympia ahead, 3-2. Guevara retired the next three batters, but Olympia Haarlem had turned the game around. However, the suspense remained until the final out.

Alyson Spinas-Valainis retired the side in the sixth inning (two strikeouts) and appeared to do the same in the seventh. She got two quick outs (both grounders), but then Brittany Abacherli grounded the ball back to Spinas. Off balance, the righthander was unable to field the ball and so, Abacherli reached on an infield-hit. Hereafter, Milagros Lozada Lago hit the ball up the middle for a basehit. With runners on first and second base, powerhitter Giulia Longhi was the next batter. But she popped the ball up in the air and it was 2B Rachel van Veen who then made the catch. That ended this thrilling come-from-behind victory and Olympia Haarlem had won the Cup Winners Cup!

Inox Team Saronno - Olympia Haarlem 2-3
Olympia Haarlem0000030-351
Inox Team Saronno0010100-281
pitchers Olympia Haarleminn.SOBBHRER
Lindsey Meadows3 (*)21511

Alyson Spinas-Valainis, W (4-0)44-311

(*) - Meadows pitched to two batters in the fourth inning

pitchers Saronnoinn.SOBBHRER
Yamerky Guevara Limonta4 (*)3-3--

Kelly Barnhill, H (1)1 (**)21122

Yamerky Guevara Limonta, L (2-1)23-11-

(*) - Guevara pitched to one batter in the fifth inning
(**) - Barnhill pitched to two batters in the sixth inning

Homeruns: Saronno: Brittany Abacherli (3)(3rd,solo,0 outs,off Meadows), Giulia Longhi (2)(5th,solo,2 outs,off Spinas).
Box Score
Umpires: HP-Tomislav Ozimec (Croatia), 1B-Vojtěch Machovskı (Czech Rep.),
3B-Stefan Thilemans (Belgium).
Official Scorers-Paolo Lugarini (Italy), Patrizia Dardanelli (Italy).
Play-by-Play Scorer-Mario Fedele (Italy).
Technical Commissioner-Anna Battigelli (Italy).
Starting Time-8:00 PM.
Time Played-2:21 hrs.
Site-Campo Comunale Baseball Softball, Saronno (Italy) (complex Saronno Softball).

Game Notes:
Final European Cup Winners Cup 2021.
Weather conditions at game time:
Clear, 28° C (82,4° F); wind direction northwest; wind speed 3 kmh (1,8 mph); wind force 1 Bft; humidity 65%.

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