By Dr Alice Hunter

Saturday 29 July – The final game for the GB Men’s Fastpitch Team in the 2023 European Men’s Championship in Denmark came on Friday 28 July in a seventh place playoff game against France.

The weather was finally clear and the sun shone down on Field One at Hurrican Park as the players began their final preparations before the game.  The supporters’ group had grown again for the final day, and the players, family and friends all sang the anthem with pride. 

Good start

Damon Brown was once again the starting pitcher for GB, and despite giving up a walk to start the game and another walk with one down, he closed out the inning with a pop-up to second base and a fielder’s choice, leaving the French scoreless.

However, GB wasn’t able to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning, despite Todd Kriehn and Trent Nash drawing walls from French starter Sylvain Buvat.

French outburst

In the top of the second inning, the French took advantage of some walks, an error and home runs by Anthony Cros and Jaques Boucheron.  Tom Priscott came in to pitch in relief of Damon Brown, but before the final out was recorded on a pickoff throw to third by catcher Trent Nash, the French had amassed seven runs.

In the bottom of the second inning, GB batters again showed discipline in the box, with Tom Priscott reaching on a hit-by-pitch (his third time this week) and Ieuan Gale on a walk.  However, both runners were left on base, and the score remained 7-0 in favour of the French.

Matt Eder came in to pitch for GB in the top of the third inning and threw well, but the French batters continued to generate hits throughout their lineup, only briefly halted when Darren Tighe took a good catch in right field.  The runs continued to mount for the French and the inning was only ended when Blaise Cardonne hit into a 5-2-3 double play started by Darren Meintjes at third base.

The score was now 11-0 to France, but the British dugout continued to yell for their teammates as GB came in to bat in the bottom of the third inning.  Another walk was drawn, this time by Trent Nash, but he was unable to advance.

Final inning

French batters continued to hit well in the top of the fourth inning, and despite excellent catches by substitute right fielder Amit Aswani and Matt Tomlin in centre field, five more runs were added to bring the score to 16-0.

Even though the odds were strongly in favour of France at this stage, GB were still up for the challenge, and with one out, Ieuan Gale singled sharply to right field for the first British hit of the game off France’s second pitcher, Remy Pujal.  This was shortly followed by a hard-hit single to shortstop off the bat of Josh Peat, giving GB runners on first and second with two down.

Matt Tomlin then doubled to left field, driving in Ieuan and Josh for GB’s first two runs of the game.  But a final groundout ended the inning and game on the mercy rule with the score 16-2 to France.

Summing up

Although several games ended on the mercy rule for GB this week, these results weren’t reflective of the determination and resilience the team has displayed.  A number of performance elements demonstrated the positive start this squad has made towards an exciting future for the Senior Men’s Fastpitch Team under the guidance of Head Coach Robbie Robison and Assistant Coach Chelsie Robison. 

After the game, Robbie said “This was not the way we wanted to end the week, and everything that could go against us did.  But the week was a massive learning moment for the team and coaches and I'm very proud of the way the team conducted themselves.  There is lots of potential going forward.”

Scores and standings

While GB and France played for seventh place on Friday, the top six teams in the tournament were playing out the final round-robin, Group X, to see who would play in the gold medal and bronze medal games on Saturday.

Not surprisingly, Czechia went through Group X unbeaten and were the home team in the gold medal game against Denmark, who defeated Belgium in a crucial final game on Friday to finish second in Group X.

In the end, Czechia won the final 6-0 to capture another men's fastpitch gold medal.

In the bronze medal game, the Netherlands defeated Belgium 10-7.

Israel and Croatia, both winless in Group X, were eliminated from medal contention on Friday.