Italy loss sends GB Women to third-place game

Fri 5 Jul 2019

By Bob Fromer

Ostrava, Czech Republic: 5 July – A 7-0 five-inning loss to Italy tonight means that that the GB Women will play the Czech Republic at 3.30 pm Czech time tomorrow (Saturday) in the bronze medal game at the 2019 European Women’s Championship.

The game will be a replay of the contest between the two teams at the Europeans two years ago in Italy, when a place in the 2018 World Championship in Japan was at stake along with the bronze medal.  On that occasion, GB won a dramatic nine-inning game by a score of 4-1.

Tomorrow’s game will be just for the medal, with both teams already having confirmed their places in the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier later this month in Utrecht.  Earlier in this tournament, GB beat the Czechs 2-0 in an eight-inning second-round contest.

The gold medal game, scheduled for 6.00 pm tomorrow, will be played by the Netherlands and Italy.

Both medal games will be webstreamed on a multi-camera set-up by www.playo.tv.

Earlier today, Spain and France, the two other teams that will be going to the Olympic Qualifier, played each other for fifth place, and Spain rallied from a 2-0 deficit to prevail by a score of 4-3, while Greece and Ireland met to contest seventh place and Greece won by 10-7.


Scores and standings

Below are scores of the final games played today in Pool X by the six teams that are going to the Olympic Qualifier, followed by the final Pool X standings, which include played games carried forward from the previous round:

POOL X SCORES
Spain 4, France 3
Italy 7, Great Britain 0 (5 inns)
Netherlands 6, Czech Republic 2

POOL X STANDINGS
Netherlands (5-0)
Italy (4-1)
Great Britain (3-2)
Czech Republic (2-3)
Spain (1-4)
France (0-5)


GB v Italy

Tonight’s loss to Italy, GB’s second loss after opening the competition with eight straight wins, was very similar to Thursday night’s 8-1 loss to the Netherlands.

Both games ended on the mercy rule after five innings with the opposition seven runs ahead, and in both games GB succumbed to aggressive hitting early in the game while failing to make much of an impression on the opposition’s pitching.

One plus for the GB Women was that their defense was excellent in both games and some great plays prevented the final scores from perhaps being worse.

Between them, the Netherlands and Italy have won every European Championship and Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier ever played, and most observers feel that one of them will be the team that gets to Tokyo, with Dutch seen as favourites.

The GB Women would have hoped and expected to play more competitive games against both teams at this tournament, but the results here don’t necessarily mean that things will be the same at the Olympic Qualifier.  The GB players and staff will need to learn from these defeats and make some necessary adjustments.  That is certainly possible if the team and staff analyse these games carefully and think clearly about them.


GB offense

There isn’t much to say about the offense that GB mounted in this game against veteran Italian pitcher Greta Cecchetti, whose only loss to the GB Women came in 2006, when Greta was 18, in an invitational tournament on the island of Sardinia.

A sharp single to right field by Nerissa Myers in the fourth inning and walks to catcher Amy Moore in the third and fifth innings were the sum of the GB offense, although there were some hard-hit outs by Nerissa Myers, Alicja Wolny and Georgina Corrick.

After Amy had received a nasty contusion on her left arm last night after being hit by Dutch pitcher Eva Voortman, there had been some doubt that she would be able to play today.  But play she did, and made a couple of fine put-outs, one on a run-down and the other on an excellent tag at the end of a relay throw from the outfield.

Greta Cecchetti struck out six GB hitters in five innings and issued just the two walks.


Italian offense

The Italian offense, on the other hand, generated eight hits against two GB pitchers, including three home runs, and were the recipients of five walks.

Beth Fleming started for Britain, ran the count to 3-2 on the first batter of the game, shortstop Amanda Fama, then watched as the next pitch went high in the air and came down on the other side of the left centre field fence.

The next batter, Laura Vigna, hit a line drive to right centre where Aubrey Peterson made a fine diving catch.

Although Beth walked the next batter, the very dangerous Erika Piancastelli, she settled down to strike out Marta Gasparotto and Lisa Birocci to end the inning with minimal damage.

Unfortunately, the top of the second inning began in the same fashion, with Italian first base player Andrea Howard smashing Beth’s first pitch deep into the bleachers in right field.

However, despite walking two during the rest of the inning, Beth prevented further scoring.

In the top of the third inning, the Italians began to pull away.  Erika Piancastelli was walked for the second time to open the frame and moved all the way to third on a sacrifice bunt by Marta Gasparotto.  From there, Piancastelli was able to score on a sacrifice fly to centre field by Lisa Birocci, and that was followed by another monster home run, this time to left centre field, by Andrea Howard.

Beatrice Ricci followed with a double to the right field wall, and that brought about a change of pitcher, with Georgina Corrick replacing Beth Fleming.  The first batter Georgina faced, Giulia Longhi, hit a ground ball to short that GB eventually turned into an inning-ending run-down that prevented another run from scoring.  But the gap was now 4-0, and at this level a lead like that is hard to overcome.


Final innings

Gradually, over the last two innings, the Italians compiled the runs they needed to end the game early.

Georgina Corrick struck out the side in the top of the fourth inning, including Amanda Fama on a great three-pitch sequence, but in between a walk to Alessandra Rotondo, a double by Laura Vigna and a vicious single to left field by Erika Piancastelli on a 3-2 change-up made the score 6-0.

In the top of the fifth inning, a walk, a sacrifice bunt and a bouncing single to right field by Alessandra Rotondo made it 7-0, and GB had no real resistance to offer in the bottom of the fifth.

Hopefully, after tomorrow’s game with the Czech Republic, GB can leave this tournament with a medal.

But they now know the shape of the task that will face them in Utrecht, at the Olympic Qualifier, in just under three weeks’ time.

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