Thursday 19 August – The Mix picked up their first win at the 2021 European Women’s Cup on Thursday morning as their offense came to life against the host team Angels Dupnitsa, but later went down in a thrilling game to the Wesseling Vermins from Germany.
Splitting today’s two games leaves The Mix with a 1-5 record with one round-robin game to come on Friday against fellow strugglers Princ Zagreb from Croatia. A win in that game may – depending on other results -- take The Mix to the fifth-place playoff game on Saturday, but that is now the best they can do.
The Mix v Angels Dupnitsa
At times during the course of this tournament The Mix have struggled to deliver hits and runs, but that was emphatically not the case this morning against their Bulgarian hosts. The British team pounded out 17 hits, including two triples and a home run in cruising to an 11-6 win.
GB Women’s Team outfielder Alana Snow, who is on the tournament leaderboard in batting, led the way with four hits in five at-bats, raising her average to .600. But Alana had plenty of support, as Anna-Be Bartels, Sian Wigington, Crista Reed-Thomas and Amie Hutchison each chipped in with two hits – and both of Amie’s hits were triples.
The Mix also benefitted from three walks given up by Bulgarian starting pitcher Simona Yordanova, who pitched most of the game in two different stints, and from four Angels’ errors.
The Mix committed an untidy six errors of their own, which meant that only three of the six runs the Bulgarians scored off GB starter Anna-Be Bartels were earned. But Anna-Be struck out five, didn’t walk anyone and was able to hold down the Angels when it mattered in pitching a complete game.
For two innings, the game was relatively close.
The Mix took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on singles by Alana Snow, Anna-Be Bartels and Sian Wigington plus a Bulgarian error.
The Angels got one of those runs back in the bottom of the first on a couple of singles and a sacrifice bunt, but The Mix made it 3-1 in the top of the second inning when Amie Hutchison hit a one-out triple to right centre field and scored on Julie Winkel’s sacrifice fly.
Then, in the top of the third inning, The Mix put a five-spot on the board and threatened to pull away.
The inning contained singles from Sian Wigington, Crista Reed-Thomas, Alana Snow and Anna-Be Bartels, a walk, two Bulgarian errors and a long home run to left field by Julie Winkel, and when all that ended, The Mix led 8-1.
Undeterred, the Angels immediately tried to haul themselves back into the game, scoring three runs in the bottom of the third inning on a single by Nikol Yordanova and doubles by Martina Efremova and Petya Sokolova.
But when The Mix matched that with three runs of their own in the top of the fourth inning to lead 11-4, the game was pretty much over.
The Bulgarians had removed their starting pitcher, Simona Yordanova, during The Mix’s third-inning bombardment, but they brought her back to start the fourth inning and it didn’t go well.
With one out, Crista Reed-Thomas and Chelsie Robison singled and Amie Hutchison drove them both home with her second triple of the game. Amie scored a few moments later on an error.
The scoring slowed down considerably after that: The Mix were unable to add to their total and the Bulgarians managed a only single run in the bottom of the fourth inning and another in the bottom of the sixth.
But Anna-Be Bartels set down the last three Angels in order in the bottom of the seventh inning after a lead-off single by Nikol Yordanova and The Mix finally had that elusive victory.
The Mix v Wesseling Vermins
Over the course of the week, the Wesseling Vermins from Germany had beaten every team in their path, and coming into this afternoon’s game against The Mix, had given up only five runs in five games.
Amazingly, The Mix matched that total in the bottom of the first inning alone and remained in the lead through the first five innings of the game, despite the Germans chipping away against Mix pitcher Anna-Be Bartels.
The hope of a big upset appeared to come crashing down in the top of the sixth inning, however, when the Vermins parlayed five singles, two walks and two errors into a six-run inning that gave the round-robin leaders an 11-6 lead.
But The Mix refused to quit and mounted a courageous rally in the bottom of the seventh inning. A walk to Anna-Be Bartels, a single by Megan Beard, a long double to left centre field by Sian Wigington and a single by Amie Hutchison brought the score to 11-9 with no one out and the tying run coming to the plate.
At that point, however, the Germans replaced pitcher Hannah Held, who had come in to relieve starter Alisha Theissen during The Mix’s big first inning, and brought Dutch pitcher Roos-Marijn Kramer to the circle. She made quick work of the bottom of The Mix’s order, with two strikeouts and a pop-up to shortstop, and the dream of a fairytale walk-off win was over.
But there was no question that The Mix had given the Vermins, who are favourites to win the tournament and gain promotion to next seasons’s European Premiere Cup, their hardest game of the competition.
Given that the Vermins came into this game with a 5-0 record while The Mix were 1-4, the German team must have been totally unprepared for what hit them in the bottom of the first inning after they had threatened in the top of the first inning but failed to score.
Alana Snow led off with a walk, and Barbara Killer tripled to right field and scored when the Germans failed to get an out on an infield grounder from Anna-Be Bartels. Megan Beard followed with a long double, Amie Hutchison reached on an error and Chelsie Robison drove in a run with a single to right field. The final run of the five-run inning came in on another German error.
If that opening frame surprised the Germans, they soon set out to close the 5-0 gap. The Vermins had baserunners in every inning against Anna-Be Bartels, and they scored one run in the top of the second inning, three in the top of the fourth and tied the game with a run in the top of the fifth.
However, The Mix edged back into the lead, 6-5, with a run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Anna-Be Bartels opened with a single to centre field, pinch-hitter Katie Jessop bunted and reached on an error, Sian Wigington sacrificed the runners to second and third and Anna-Be scored on yet another error (both teams committed six of them).
But Anna-Be, who had pitched all seven innings this morning when The Mix beat Angels Dupnitsa, was clearly tiring and the six runs scored by the Germans in the top of the sixth inning were the result.
It probably seemed at that point that the game was over, but Anna-Be rallied to set down the Vermins in order in the top of the seventh inning -- and then The Mix mounted the dramatic comeback that fell just short.
It was a great game, and of course the reason that The Mix overcame a lot of obstacles to get to this tournament in a time of Covid – the only British national or club team to compete in Europe this summer -- was to give their players this kind of experience.
The Mix may be going into the final game of the round-robin on Friday with only one win so far, but all their games have gone the full seven innings and The Mix have had chances in every one of them. Despite their record, they have had a good tournament.
Results and standings
Results from Thursday’s play were:
Wroclaw Panthers 1, Vienna Wanderers 0
Wesseling Vermins 25, Akademiks Sofia 1 (3 inns)
The Mix 11, Angels Dupnitsa 6
Western Fire 7, Princ Zagreb 2
Wroclaw Panthers 9, Akademiks Sofia 1 (6 inns)
Vienna Wanderers 20, Princ Zagreb 2 (3 inns)
Wesseling Vermins 11, The Mix 9
Round-robin standings after Day 4 are:
Wesseling Vermins (Germany) (6-0)
Wroclaw Panthers (Poland) (5-1)
Western Fire (Ukraine) (4-2)
Vienna Wanderers (Austria) (4-2)
Akademiks Sofia (Bulgaria) (2-4)
The Mix (GB) (1-5)
Princ Zagreb (Croatia) (1-5)
Angels Dupnitsa (Bulgaria) (1-5)