Tuesday 29 August – There was a full slate of games involving all 20 teams on Tuesday at the European Men’s Super Cup in the Netherlands, and while one British representative – the Meteors – dropped two games, the other British team, the Stags, recorded their first win.

The Meteors weren’t involved in the four games that were played to open the tournament on Monday evening, but on Tuesday they lost 11-3 to the Montpellier Barracudas from France in five innings in the morning, and then had to face a strong Czech Under-23 Team in the afternoon and went down 13-2 in four innings. 

The Meteors were up against strong pitching in both games and managed only a single hit in each of them.

The Stags had played in one of the Monday night games, losing 7-0 to the Chicaboos from Belgium, but had only a single game to play on Tuesday, against VSC Sweden.

In this game, the Stags and the Swedes were neck and neck through four innings, and the Stags held only a two-run lead going into the top of the seventh inning.  But a four-run outburst sealed the game and the Stags won by a final score of 8-2.

If the Stags can win one of their two games on Wednesday when the round-robin portion of the tournament wraps up, their chances of fulfilling Captain Trent Nash’s hopes of getting into the top 12 and the Super Cup playoffs will be good.

Here are more details on Tuesday’s games played by the British teams.

Montpellier Barracudas 11, Meteors 3

The Meteors fought hard in this game against a French team that had already posted an impressive win to open the tournament on Monday night, and after four innings the Montpellier Barracudas only had a 4-0 lead and had been held to just four hits by Meteors starting pitcher Victor Elsner, though he did surrender seven walks. 

Elsner, who struck out six, was particularly impressive in the top of the third inning when the Barracudas loaded the bases with no one out but failed to score.

Unfortunately, up to that point, the Meteors had no hits against the Barracudas’ starting pitcher Jiri Pokorny, who walked only one and struck out 12.

Both teams changed pitchers at the start of the fifth inning, and the floodgates opened.

Vit Oralek came in to pitch for the Meteors, and the French struck for seven runs on six hits, capped off by a three-run home run by Jiri Pokorny.

Down by 11-0 going into the bottom of the fifth inning and needing five runs to prevent the mercy rule coming into effect, the Meteors had a spirited try against a new pitcher for the French team, Remy Pujal.

With one out, Matt Tomlin walked, Luka Rilovic reached on an error and Vit Oralek was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Matt Tomlin scored the Meteors’ first run on a passed ball, Ben Tomlin walked to re-load the bases, and Tom Kupczik’s single up the middle drove in two more runs.

But two strikeouts ended the inning and the game.

Czechia Under-23s 13, Meteors 2

This was always going to be a tough game for the Meteors against the European Under-23 champions from Czechia, and so it proved.

The Czechs scored three runs in each of the first three innings against Meteors starter Victor Elsner and Kevin Stockford, who took over the pitching with two out in the second inning.  Meanwhile, the Meteors were held to no hits and just a single walk over those first three innings by Czech starter Matyas Zelinka.

However, the Czechs changed pitchers in the top of the fourth inning, with Vilem Bartik taking over, and at last the Meteors offense began to stir, with some help from the opposition.

Bartik opened the inning by walking Luka Rilovic, Kevin Stockford and Tarquin Karaitiana to load the bases, and Matt Tomlin promptly unloaded them with a single down the right field line to drive in two.  Unfortunately, Tarquin Karaitiana was caught in a rundown and put out at the plate to put a damper on the rally, and a groundout and a strikeout followed to end the inning without further scoring.

The Czech Under-23s, now leading by 9-2, needed three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to end the game on the mercy rule, and they got four.

There didn’t seem much danger when the Czechs had a runner on first with two out.  But then Filip Kucirek doubled in a run, Jakub Vasicek walked, and Jonas Voracek crushed a three-run home run over the left field fence to bring the game to a walk-off conclusion.

Stags 8, VSC Sweden 2

This game was a tight pitcher’s duel for the first four innings between Leon Kfir for the Stags, who pitched a complete game five-hitter, and Ondrek Tverdek for VSC Sweden, and at that point the Stags held a slim one-run lead.

The run had come in the top of the third inning when George Young opened with a single through the left side, reached third on wild pitches, and came home on another.

In the fifth inning, both offenses broke through, with the Stags scoring three runs in the top of the inning and VSC Sweden countering with two.

Will Sinclair opened the Stags’ fifth inning with a walk, was sacrificed to second by George Young and continued to third on an error.  A strikeout produced the second out, but Jack Scholes walked and stole second base and both runners scored on a singe up the middle by Richard Oplustil.

That brought Vaclav Fryba in to pitch for the Swedes, but a walk to Josh Peat and a single through the left side by Tom Russell brought in the third run of the inning.

The two Swedish runs in the bottom of the fifth inning came on three singles and a couple of wild pitches, and trimmed the Stags’ lead to 4-2.

The Stags left a couple of runners on base in the top of the sixth inning but couldn’t score, and the Swedes went down in order in the bottom of the sixth, so it was still 4-2 as the Stags came to bat in the top of the seventh inning.

Finally, the British bats got going.  After a single by Richard Oplustil and a walk to Josh Peat, Tom Russell hit a triple, Ieuan Gale singled, and George Young doubled, and four runs were home.

The Swedes had a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh, but a fly out to centre field and a 5-4-3 double play ended the game with the Stags ahead 8-2 and cherishing their first win of the tournament.

Scores and standings

Scores from round-robin games played on Tuesday at the European Men’s Super Cup, were:

Montpellier Barracudas (France) 11, Meteors (Great Britain) 3
Czechia Under-23s 8, Vennep Flyers (Netherlands) 1
Stenlose Bulls (Denmark) 4, Montpellier Barracudas (France) 2
Czechia Under-23s 13, Meteors (Great Britain) 2
Stenlose Bulls (Denmark) 18, Vennep Flyers (Netherlands) 7

Hurricanes (Denmark) 3, Hoboken Pioneers (Belgium) 0
Magos Tenerife (Spain) 4, Spectrum Prague (Czechia) 0
Hurricanes (Denmark) 9, DVH Amstelveen (Netherlands) 0
Hoboken Pioneers (Belgium) 7, Spectrum Prague (Czechia) 0
Magos Tenerife (Spain) 3, DVH Amstelveen (Netherlands) 1

VSC Sweden 9, Span (Croatia) 2
Locos Breclav (Czechia) 10, Span (Croatia) 0
Stags (Great Britain) 8, VSC Sweden 2
Locos Breclav (Czechia) 2, Chicaboos (Belgium) 0

Rabbits (France) 7, MRKI Medvedi (Croatia) 0
Painbusters Most (Czechia) 13, MRKI Medvedi (Croatia) 1
Rabbits (France) 5, Deurne Spartans (Belgium) 4
Olympia Haarlem (Netherlands) 5, Painbusters Most (Czechia) 4

Standings after Tuesday's games are:

Czechia Under-23s (2-0)
Stenlose Bulls (2-0)
Montpellier Barracudas (2-1)
Meteors (0-2)
Vennep Flyers (0-3)

Hurricanes (2-0)
Magos Tenerife (2-0)
Hoboken Pioneers (2-1)
Spectrum Prague (0-2)
DVH Amstelveen (0-3)

Locos Breclav (2-0)
Chicaboos (1-1)
Stags (1-1)
VSC Sweden (1-1)
Span (0-2)

Olympia Haarlem (2-0)
Rabbits (2-0)
Painbusters Most (1-1)
MRKI Medvedi (0-2)
Duerne Spartans (0-2)

Looking ahead

The round-robin phase of the tournament will finish on Wednesday, when both British teams will play twice.

The Stags will play the Croatian team Span at 1.30 pm and the Czech team Locos Breclav at 8.30 pm.  The Meteors will take on the Stenlose Bulls from Denmark at 4.00 pm and the Dutch team Vennep Flyers at 8.30 pm.

After the opening round-robin has been completed the top three teams from each group will go forward to the Super Cup while the bottom two teams from each group will play in the Europe Cup.  The format for both will be double elimination.