We have a U23 European Champion: Congratulation to the Netherlands who beat the Czech Republic in extra-innings.
The first decision of the day was determined between Germany and France, who fought for the 5th place. Germany’s Niklas Rimmel went five very strong innings, only allowing one hit and one walk. His offense helped out with a great run support. The French finally came through after the bull pen took over, but one run was all they could put on the board. That leaves the 6th rank for France. Germany walks away with the 5th spot and some great impressions at this 2017 championship in Trnava, Wels and Brno.
Later that day, Great Britain and Croatia fought for the 7th place. Team GB jumpstarted the Croatians, scoring 9 runs in their first to attempts and never looked back. Croatia didn’t give up and tried to add some more runs themselves, but two in the 5th and one more run in the 9th wasn’t enough. The British took won the matchup for the 7th rank with a 12:4-win, but Croatia can still be proud of an 8th spot at this tournament.
In Pool E, the Ukraine could secure its 9th rank at the championships, but they needed to go through extra innings to beat the Slovakia in a heartbreaking game. Although Poland took a loss against Russia, the Polish end up in 10th place in front of Russia and Slovakia.
Also, the game for winning Pool F was a close one. Austria established a small advantage, but Belarus fought back. In the ninth they had the tying run on second base, but Austria could finish the game just in time, securing the 13th place at the U23 European Championship. Also the Lithuanias can leave the tournament with a smile on their faces, beating Georgia 8:0.
BRONZE MEDAL GAME
In the medal game, Spain and Belgium showed a great show for all the fans who made their way to MBS before today’s big final. Both teams had to take a disappointing loss in Saturday’s semifinals, but now had the chance to finish the week with a win and eventually even with a medal. The game started with two quick runs for the Belgians, who jumped on the Spanish pitching right away. On the other side, Robin Roevens started on the mound for Belgium and showed an outstanding performance against the Spanish hitters. It took them until the 7th to put real pressure on the defense and finally came through. Two errors helped them to put runs on the scoreboard and tie the game. The ball game went into extra innings and the bronze medals had to be put back into boxes. In the tenth, the Belgian offense were down to their last out, when the pitcher himself, Robin Roevens singled to left field to score the potential winning run. Lucas Rizzi came in to close it down and after an conservative sac-bunt, two pop-ups ended the game and Belgium could win the bronze medal for the first time in U23 history.
The game everybody was waiting for was finally here. In front of a great crowd at Městský Stadium Brno, the Czech Republic met with the Netherlands. Looking at the development of youth baseball, this could be final we see more often in the future in different categories. But today, the stars of tomorrow met on the diamond battling for the U23 European Championship 2017. The game didn’t start the way the home crowd would have hoped, having the Dutch score the first run of the tournament. But the Czech had the right answer. Starter Ismail Ross had a tough time spotting his pitches and falling back into the count a lot. Five walks and a sharp hit led to a three-run-answer by the host of this championship. Ross’ day was over faster than the Dutch staff had hoped, but reliever Kennimar Locadia could only stop the bleeding in the first. The Czech stayed strong and kept the score moving each inning. Just before their starter, Ondrej Furko, ran out of gas, Pavel Chadim made a call to his bull pen and sent Lukas Ercoli on the hill.
This worked out well in the third, but in the fourth two runners reached base without swinging the bat. Jiri Vavrusa was sent in immediately, but he raised the pressure even more, after loading up the bases with another walk. He fought back and retired the side and prevented another run for the Dutch. After three innings, the Czech had given themselves a solid 5:1 advantage. The Dutch kept putting pressure on the Defense, but couldn’t come through. Until the sixth inning when everything changed: Two walks and error loaded up the bases and only one out was recorded so far. And after Denzel Richardson scored two of his teammates with a sharp single up the middle, clean-up hitter Kendrick Delima launched a 2-RBI double to left field to tie the game.
The Czech didn’t drop their heads, eventually came out of the inning with a one-run-deficit and tried to battle back. After breaking up the double play, Vojtech Mensik scored the tying run, to even up the score at 6. Filip Capka was new in the game for the Czech Republic, but even he couldn’t calm down the game and allowed the 7:6 in the seventh. Meanwhile, Locadia stayed focus and tried to control the Czech hitters and did a great job until the 8th when he got pulled for Maickel Rietel, who finished the eight. Jerremyh Angela was sent in to shut the door and earn the save, but he walked the lead-off hitter to start the inning. Thanks to his right fielder Denzel Richardson, who made an outstanding diving catch, he recorded his first out, but a single and walk loaded up the bases.
Everybody at Draci’s beautiful ballpark was on his feet and would keep up until the very last out of this final game. The Czech fans never gave up their fight and were cheering all the way. Angela was getting nervous and with a hit by pitch, a run scored for the 7:8. Colin Van Laar got the ball and a lot of pressure was on his shoulders in this tens situation. He worked up the count pretty fast, but walked his first batter to tie the game. Next up were Adam Hajtmar and Filip Smola, two of the most trusted hitters on the team. Both showed a lot of patience, but ended up striking out, prolonging this game and forcing a 10th inning.
Ondrej Satori, who just got the win on Friday against France and who only had one day rest, was put on the mound for the 10th innibng. The Dutch played it safe and bunted the tie-break runners over on a sacrifice hit. Ruar Verkerk was up next, but he popped up to shallow center field, so runner could advance. Satori had Rachid Engelhardt already at a full count, when the Dutch batter took a hard swing, driving the ball to left center field. Two runs scored and the score was 10:8. In the bottom of the inning, the Czech decided not to hit, which seemed to pay off, as the first batter was walked to load up the bases with no outs. Another walked made the game even closer, as Adam Hadmar scored the 10:9. Colin Van Laar was still on the mound and the situation couldn’t have been much harder for him. But just as in the inning before, he stayed focused and sat down Michal Vykoukal and Martin Cervinka. Matej Laznicek was the next batter to step to the plate with bases loaded and two ours. Van Laar was the man of the moment. In the ninth he struck out two in a row to force extra innings and in the tenth he even added one more, retired the last three batters in order and won his team the European Championship!
After a terrific final, which went back and forth until the very last moment, the Netherlands are the new U23 European Baseball Champions! The Czech Republic made an extraordinary effort in the final and made this an unforgettable night for everybody who was present. Congratulation to the Dutch, but also all other teams who give their best on the diamond and leaving their hearts on the field.