Day 5 was a blast! With the Netherlands and host Czech Republic we have two well deserved finalists, who could win todays semifinals. Meanwhile, Germany and France could secure a spot in the A-Pool.
In the morning, Germany and Great Britain had a great matchup. Noland Bond had another great start and his British offense supported him with two early runs. It took the German batters until the fourth to land the first hit, but with this they could tie the game. One inning later they added another one, when the British Coaching Staff saw enough. With this, the score stay close until the last inning, when Mike Ehmcke launched a two-run homerun. The British could score one more in their last try, but too less and with this, Germany secured a spot in the U23 A-Pool and will play for the 5th place.
The matchup between Croatia and France was a close game all the way. While the tricolor took the lead in the second, Croatia could strike back and take the lead in the 4th. But now, the time of the French batters had come: One hit followed the other and four runs were scored, to conquer back a 5:2 lead. Four more runs followed in the seventh while Croatia had no countable answer on that.
The first semifinal took place between the Netherlands and Belgium. For the winner of this, not only a spot in tomorrow’s final was assured, also a ticket to the WBSC U23 World Cup was booked. The red devils were looking for another surprise in the tournament and this was exactly what they did in the first inning. They jump-started with three runs in the first and the Dutch dugout wasn’t too happy about it. But the Netherlands didn’t want to be the next victim, so they answered right back. Pitcher Kyran Weemaels tried his best against the hitters in orange, but couldn’t stop the Dutch powerhouse. Seven runs in the next three innings followed and the Netherlands started to lean back and prepare for tomorrow’s final. But the Belgians didn’t give up and tried to teach their big brother a lesson. Two runs shorted the advantage to two runs. Eventually, this was all that Belgium had left and the Dutch moved on the final, beating Belgium 10:5 in today’s first semifinal.
The second great matchup for a ticket to the big final. The Czech and the Spanish fought a great matchup: Francisco Gonzalez vs. Jan Novak were the two main actors on the hill. The game was still at 0:0 in the fourth inning, when the Gonzalez suddenly lost control of his pitches and loaded up the bases with no outs recorded. An error allowed the first run, Filip Claus cashed in the next two, pushing the score to 3:0. The Spanish still couldn’t adapt to veteran Novak’s pitches and failed to shorten the lead. One inning later, the Czech loaded up the bases once again and Marek Chlup delivered to score two, two more hits followed to make the score 7:0. The Spanish, who presented their selves as a big family throughout the tournament, seemed to fall apart and a lot of hanging heads could be spotted.
Jan Novak loaded up the bases and gave the Spanish a little give away in the form of a run, but through the next innings, nothing connected to score more runs. When Daniel Padysak stepped on the mound, Spain could add two more runs in the seventh. But after that, it seemed like they ran out of gas, couldn’t add anything else and the Czech could start their celebration. The host team not only earns another medal with this win, they also will represent Europe at the next WBSC U23 World Cup in the upcoming year.
The grande Finale will be played tomorrow between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, starting at 7 PM.
In the battle for the top 10, Ukraine overcame Poland in a 10:2 lead. A six-run fifth buried all chances of the Polish for a single digit result at this U23 Championship. Slovakia started well against Russia and shutting down their offense almost through the whole game. They only allowed one run in the sixth and walked away with a 3:1-win.
In Pool F, in which ranks 12th to 16th are determined, Belarus could celebrate another win against Georgia. A 13:3 was their second win of the tournament. Also Austria could celebrate a second victory, beating Lithuania 8:3.