GB Women end pool play with win over Venezuela

Thu 9 Aug 2018

By Bob Fromer

Thursday 9 August – The GB Women’s Team ended the first phase of the Women’s World Championship today with an interesting, slightly messy and ultimately satisfying win over Venezuela by a score of 5-2 at the Akitsu Stadium in Narashino City.

The win gives GB a 2-5 record in pool play and a sixth-place finish in Pool B.  When the Placement playoffs begin tomorrow, GB will play at 2.00 pm Japanese time (6.00 am in the UK) against the Philippines.

The Placement playoffs are a straight knockout, with quarterfinals, semi-finals and final, and should GB win against the Philippines, they will play again on Saturday against the winner of the game between Chinese Taipei and Botswana.  Beyond that, the Placement final beckons.  These games are important to achieve the highest possible ranking in the tournament and thus points in the WBSC world rankings.

All remaining games in the World Championship can be watched on webstream through https://wswc.wbsc.org/schedule-and-results.

Tactics

GB approached this game as they had the earlier games against China and Italy, with Beth Fleming starting but with Georgina Corrick ready to come in if Beth ran into trouble.

In this case, Beth breezed through the first inning, giving up a walk to Venezuela veteran Yuruby Alicart, but catcher Steph Pearce gunned her down at second on an attempted steal.

GB then took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, with some help from Venezuela.  Nerissa Myers led off with a single pushed to shortstop, and Kendyl Scott reached when Venezuelan shortstop Arcila Fuenmayor dropped her pop fly behind second base.  A sacrifice bunt by Lauren Evans moved the runners up, and Nerissa scored when Kirsten Mack grounded out to short – the first of her three RBIs.

In the top of the second inning, Beth Fleming struck out the first two hitters, walked Mirian Jimenez, then got Cristina Rodriguez to hit a little pop fly in front of the plate.  GB fielders converged on the ball, but catcher Steph Pearce called it, and then dropped it.  Now there was tension, and Beth walked Fernanda Pacheco to load the bases and went to a 3-1 count on an early pinch-hitter, Jamee Juarez, as Venezuela sensed an opportunity.

But Juarez hit the next pitch to shortstop and Sydney Brown made a nice play, flipping to Chiya Louie at third base for the force out that ended the inning and preserved GB’s lead.

Turn and turn again

GB went down in order in the bottom of the second inning to Venezuelan starter Michelle Floyd, and in the top of the third inning Venezuela took the lead.

With one out, Maria Soto reached on a hard-hit ball that caromed around the infield, Yuruby Alicart singled softly to centre field and Arcila Fuenmayor drove a ball over Hayley D’Avilar’s head in right field, good for a two-RBI triple.

When Beth Fleming walked the next hitter, Geraldine Puertas, that was the signal for Georgina Corrick to make her entry, and she got out of the inning when Steph Pearce tagged out Arcila Fuenmayor trying to score on a bunt in front of the plate and Cristina Rodriguez struck out.

At that point, no one thought that 2-1 to Venezuela could possibly be the final score – and it wasn’t.

GB tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the third inning when Nerissa Myers walked, Kendyl Scott reached on an error and Lauren Evans was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Kirsten Mack’s single to right centre brought in Nerissa, but Kendyl Scott was out trying to score, despite leaping high over catcher Cristina Rodriguez in an effort to avoid the tag.  Rodriguez made a great play to get the out.

Adding on

From the fourth inning onwards, it was a matter of Georgina Corrick holding Venezuela scoreless – though not without some baserunners to deal with – and GB adding on.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, GB took the lead, and it was entirely the Sydney Brown Show.

Sydney reached on a bunt single, stole second, alertly stole third when Venezuela failed to get the ball back to the pitcher in the circle, and scored with a great slide at home on Tori Charters’s ground out to first base.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Kirsten Mack singled and advanced to second on a walk to Chiya Louie.

That was the end for Venezuelan pitcher Michelle Floyd, replaced by Alonda Perez.

The irrepressible Sydney Brown greeted her with a bunt single to load the bases.

And now GB got a huge break.

Amy Moore pinch-hit for Steph Pearce and eventually hit a pop fly in front of the plate.  The Venezuelan first base player, pitcher and catcher all converged, and though the first base player, Maria Soto, caught the ball, it was jarred out of her glove by the catcher, then juggled by all three players before the ball and the players finally hit the ground – a perfect comedy routine.

And costly, because Amy Moore hit the next pitch for a single to left centre field, scoring Kirsten Mack.  GB now led 4-2.

After the bottom of the sixth inning, it was 5-2.  Kendyl Scott reached on an infield single, stole second, and trotted home when Kirsten Mack drove a double to the fence in left field.

That was all GB needed, as Georgina Corrick set the Venezuelans down quickly in the top of the seventh inning, despite Geraldine Puertas reaching on an error.

By winning their second game in the round-robin, GB equalled the number of games they won in the round-robin phase of the World Championship in 2010, 2012 and 2016, but fell short of their three wins in 2006 in Beijing, and short of where they wanted to be.  The 1-0 losses to both China and Italy earlier in the week will haunt them, especially as the other two European teams here, the Netherlands and Italy, have both made the playoffs as the fourth-place team in their pools.  Had GB won those two games, they would have taken the fourth spot instead of Italy.

There have been ups and downs here for GB, but also a lot of positives to take forward to the European Super Six Tournament in September and next year’s European Championship and Olympic Qualifier.

But meanwhile, this tournament isn’t over, and for GB there is still at least one more game to play.  And hopefully more.

Scores

Scores from the final round-robin games, including those postponed from Wednesday to Thursday, are:

Pool A
USA 8, Puerto Rico 1
Netherlands 11, South Africa 1
New Zealand 2, Philippines 0
Mexico 4, Chinese Taipei 3

Pool B
Italy 7, China 0
GB 5, Venezuela 2
Canada 22, Botswana 0 (3 inns)
Japan 8, Australia 1


Photos by Simon Mortimer


Standings

Here are the final first-round pool standings, with the top four teams in each pool going forward to Championship playoffs over the next three days:

Pool A
USA (7-0)
Puerto Rico (6-1)
Mexico (5-2)
Netherlands (3-4)
Chinese Taipei (3-4)
New Zealand (2-5)
Philippines (2-5)
South Africa (0-7)

Pool B
Japan (7-0)
Australia (5-2)
Canada (5-2)
China (4-2)
Italy (3-3)
GB (1-5)
Venezuela (1-5)
Botswana (0-7)

Back to news listing


Comments