GB Junior Men Head Coach Stan Doney reports on the team's first two games at the European Junior Men's Fastpitch Championships:
GB v Denmark
Denmark 13, Great Britain 6
Tom Priscott took the mound for GB's first Junior Men's fastpitch game in Europe since 2004, and what a start it was.
Three runs in the first inning and three more in the second gave GB a 6-4 lead that they held through four innings against a team from one of the top men's fastpitch countries in Europe.
But in the fifth inning Denmark finally clawed their way back to take a 7-6 lead, then piled on six runs to claim a mercy rule win after six innings.
Josh Peat started off in fine form for GB with two hits in his first two at-bats.
But pitching was the issue as Tom Priscott gave up eight walks to three surrendered by Danish pitching, and that proved to be the difference, even though Denmark committed three errors to GB's none and Tyler Gibbons took an amazing catch in left field. Spectators commented on the quality of GB's fielding, and perhaps we have their slowpitch experience at Diamond 1 and 2 to thank for that.
However, Danish bats were too strong and they eventually took advantage of the walks on offer.
Tom Priscott still did a great job toughing it out and pitching all the way to the end. It was a great start to the tournament against the current European Champions.
GB v Croatia
Croatia 15, GB 5
To qualify for World Championships, you need to finish in the top three in this competition. This was a game GB had targeted as a potential win towards that goal.
Once again the start was awesome. GB scored four runs in the first inning, but it should have been many more.With runners on first and third and none out, the Croatian catcher threw the ball to second base on an attempted steal. But the second base player cut it off and Tyler Gibbons, the GB runner on third, was fooled by the cut-off and tagged out at home.
This is just lack of experience, but instead of being further ahead with still no outs, the inning ended earlier than expected. With four runs on the board it was still a good start for GB, but the game could have been dead and buried in the first inning if GB had put up seven or eight runs.
The Croatian comeback began immediately and a missed chance for a double play in the bottom of the first inning led to three Croatian runs and only a one-run lead after just one inning of play.
After that, the easiest thing to say is the wheels fell off.
After playing such a great game against the Danes, GB gave up 10 runs in two innings to Croatia, most of them from walks (again).They say that good pitching wins games, but the opposite is also true: walks will kill you. Giving up something like 10 walks was the key to a Croatian mercy rule win.
The GB team is learning with every game, but it is a harsh environment to learn in.
Things will not get any easier as GB's next opponent will be the Czech Republic, who have yet to concede a run in the tournament.
But the boys are all in good spirits and are thoroughly enjoying themselves as we seek our first win of the competition.