Sweep for GB Slowpitch Men on Euros Day 1

Tue 12 Jun 2018

Chocen, Czech Republic: 12 June – A hard-fought win over a much-fancied Netherlands team, and then a much easier victory over Ireland, gave the GB Slowpitch Men’s Team an excellent start today at the first-ever European Men’s Slowpitch Championship.

It was another early start for GB, with a 45-minute ride to the grounds for a warm-up and then a 9.00 am game, but the team were chomping at the bit to get the tournament started.

And they couldn’t have started with a tougher opponent. 

GB v Netherlands

The Dutch players all play men’s slowpitch regularly in a European Men’s League and on paper were going to be GB’s sternest test.

And so it proved.  The Dutch began the game with some strong hitting, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning, and then brought their fielding skills into play to restrict GB to just two runs in reply.

Over the next two innings the Dutch continued to pound out line drive base hits and were pulling away from GB until the bottom of the fourth inning.  At that point, a series of singles was followed by a monstrous home run over a 300-foot fence from outfielder Kelvin Harrison, and another straightaway from Chris Yoxall. 

The singles also continued, and when the smoke cleared GB held a slender two-run lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning. 

At that point, the Netherlands changed their pitcher, and though the new chucker looked the part, he pitched 16 straight balls and gave up another monster home run to Kelvin Harrison as GB stretched their lead to 21-10.

The Dutch fought back with two runs in the top of the sixth inning and another in the top of the seventh, but it was too little too late as GB ran out 24-13 winners.

GB Assistant Coach David Lee said, “We were a little nervous in the early innings but settled quickly and found the Dutch pitchers easy enough to hit when they threw strikes.  The confidence grew and the bats were hot from the second inning to the last.  All the players got a chance to contribute and Mark Bowman’s pitching held the very strong Dutch batting line-up scoreless in at least two innings.”

GB spirits were lifted further with the much-anticipated arrival of the new GB playing shirts -- a brand new modern design which the players love and which will only enhance the experience.

Other winners in this morning’s games were Belgium, who turned over an inexperienced Irish team by a score of 16-6, and the Czech Republic, who won a 15-14 thriller over Germany.

The Netherlands then mauled Italy by a score of 25-11 before GB took the field again against Ireland.

GB v Ireland

Ireland never had a chance in this game.  GB scored six runs in the bottom of the first inning and three more in the bottom of the second – each inning featuring yet another home run by Kelvin Harrison – before adding the coup de grace with 15 runs in the bottom of the third.

Ireland’s only reply was single runs in the top of the first, second and fourth innings against GB pitcher Mark Bowman, and so the game ended in the middle of the fourth inning with GB ahead 24-3.

That third inning explosion by GB featured 14 hits and two Irish errors, and at one point GB pumped out 11 straight hits, the sequence beginning and ending with singles by Kris Hadwin and featuring Matt Tomlin’s double and a three-run home run by Adam Haywood.  Chris Yoxall had a two-run round-tripper later in the inning.

David Lee commented: “Great hitting and outstanding fielding from all in the new shirts ensured a routine victory, with Ireland offering little in either department.  There were more huge home runs from Kelvin Harrison and Chris Yoxall, with solid driven hits from every other squad player, and all got to participate.

“The day could not have been better,” David added, “with every player contributing hits and multiple out-of-the-park home runs.  Everyone also got to play their chosen position, and demonstrated determination and significant prowess in doing so.”

After sampling the wide range of food available at the grounds, the team then had a long, late journey back to their accommodation.

The Italians and the Czechs await on Wednesday, with another 9.00 am start.

Meanwhile, in other afternoon games, Germany had a straightforward win over Italy by 22-7, but in an extraordinary final game, Belgium came from eight runs down against the Czech Republic at the end of five innings and four runs down after six to put up five more runs in the bottom of the seventh for a 20-19 victory.

Scores and Standings

Scores from the first day of play at the European Men’s Slowpitch Championship are:

GB 24, Netherlands 13
Belgium 16, Ireland 6
Czech Republic 15, Germany 14
Netherlands 25, Italy 11
GB 24, Ireland 3
Germany 22, Italy 7
Belgium 20, Czech Republic 19

Pool standings after Day 1 are:

GB (2-0)
Belgium (2-0)
Netherlands (1-1)
Czech Republic (1-1)
Germany (1-1)
Italy (0-2)
Ireland (0-2)

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Troy Pilkie -Rogers 20:52

Well done boys keep up the good hitting

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