Prague, Czech Republic: 26 August – The Stags recorded their first win at the European Super Cup on Friday, beating BSK Medvednica from Croatia in the Softball Europe Cup section of the tournament. But then a loss to the Dutch team Vennep Flyers knocked the Stags out of the competition.
Since Thursday, the Stags have been one of nine teams playing in the Softball Europe Cup, a double-elimination competition for the teams that finished in the lower half of their first-round groups. At the same time, teams that finished in the top half of those groups have been playing a double-elimination competition of their own for Super Cup medals.
When the Stags were beaten on Thursday by Magos Tenerife from Spain, it meant one further loss would put them out of the tournament. The Stags staved that off on Friday morning with a tight 5-2 win against BSK Medvednica.
But then the Stags had to take the field shortly afterwards to face the Vennep Flyers from the Netherlands, a team that had beaten the Stags by 16-6 in first-round play. This time, the final score was 12-5 to the Dutch team, and that meant the end of the competition for the Stags.
A number of teams in both the Super Cup and Softball Europe Cup exited the tournament with a second loss on Friday, leaving a smaller group of teams in each competition that will play for medals on Saturday. These surviving teams are detailed in the section on Scores at the end of this article.
Stags 5, BSK Medvednica 2
Kristof van Aarsen pitched a four-hit shutout for the Stags over the first six innings of this game while the British team gradually built up a 5-0 lead.
That was enough to negate a two-run rally staged by the Croatians in the bottom of the seventh inning against relief pitcher Damon Brown, and the Stags were able to celebrate their first-ever win in European Cup competition, a win that meant they would have at least one more game to play.
The game was scoreless for the first two innings, through the Croatians led off the bottom of the first inning with a double and a single, and only failed to score because Seth Ross in left field made a fine play to throw out Sucha Vojtech at the plate.
Instead, it was the Stags who made the breakthrough in the top of the third inning with a thunderous rally. There were two out and no one on base for the Stags when Tom Russell singled down the left field line. Amit Aswani and Seth Ross then hit drove back-to-back home runs over the fence in centre field and the Stags had a 3-0 lead.
The Stags then added single runs in each of the next two innings.
In the top of the fourth, Tom Priscott singled through the left side, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by William Sinclair and scored on George Young’s double to right centre field.
In the top of the fifth inning, Tom Russell reached on a bunt single, went to third on a single by Kristof van Aarsen, and scored on a wild throw from the Croatian left fielder.
Meanwhile, Kristof van Aarsen had been dealing fairly comfortably with the Croatian offense apart from the bottom of the fourth inning, when BSK Medvednica put runners on second and third with one out. But a strikeout and a groundout got Kristof out of the inning.
Damon Brown took over the pitching for the Stags in the bottom of the seventh inning, and three walks plus a single by the first four batters brought in a run, loaded the bases, and gave the Croatians some hope. But Damon got the three outs he needed on a strikeout, a fielder’s choice groundout that scored the second Croatian run and then a grounder back to the pitcher.
It was a very sweet victory for the Stags!
Vennep Flyers 12, Stags 5
In their first meeting with the Vennep Flyers early in the week, during the round-robin phase of the tournament, the Stags had more-or-less kept pace with the Dutch team over the first six innings, only to succumb to a seven-run Dutch outburst in the top of the seventh that produced a 16-6 scoreline.
Today, the Stags went one better, jumping out to a dramatic 5-0 lead in the top of the second inning that threw a real scare into the Dutch. The British rally also knocked Flyers’ starting pitcher Sontje Angelista out of the game. But his replacement, Jan Cech, was much more effective, giving the Stags only two hits, no walks and no runs over the rest of the game.
Meanwhile, the Dutch team found their bats against Kristof van Aarsen, starting his second game in a row, and then against relief pitchers Damon Brown and Lukas Kotek.
The Flyers scored two runs in the bottom of the second inning, took a 6-5 lead with four runs in the bottom of the third, and then pulled away with three-run rallies in the bottom of the fourth and sixth innings that produced a final score of 12-5 in favour of the Dutch.
The five runs scored by the Stags in the top of the second inning, their biggest rally of the tournament, came on five hits.
William Sinclair led off the inning with an infield hit and went to second when George Young singled to right field. After one out, Josh Peat stroked a double to right centre field, driving in one run and sending George to third, from where he scored on a wild pitch. Josh then scored the third run of the inning on a ground ball by Tom Russell on which the Dutch failed to get an out, Amit Aswani singled to right field, sending Tom to third, and Tom scored on a ground ball out.
The fifth run of the inning came when Amit scored on an infield single by Kristof van Aarsen.
At that point, the Dutch changed pitchers and the inning ended when the new pitcher, Jan Cech, got Trent Nash to fly out to centre field.
After that, Cech held the Stags in check while the Flyers’ offense began to pile up runs against Stags pitching.
The loss meant that the Stags were now out of the tournament. But they played well this week against some very strong opposition and the experience will mean the team is better equipped when, as almost-certain Great Britain Fastpitch League Men’s Division champions this year, they return to the European Super Cup in 2023.
The European Men’s Super Cup is now two different tournaments: a double-elimination Super Cup tournament for the top eight teams from the first round, and a double-elimination Softball Europe Cup for the remaining nine teams.
Things were complicated on Friday when heavy rain began to fall late in the day, causing the last two Super Cup games and the final Softball Europe Cup game on the schedule to be postponed until Saturday morning.
Scores of the games played on Friday were:
Joudrs Prague 8, Czech U-23s 6
Chomutov Beavers 4, Brasschaat Braves 2
Oslo Alligators 6, Locos Breclav 5
Stenlose Bulls 5, Horsholm Hurricanes 1
Chomutov Beavers v Horsholm Hurricanes (POSTPONED: to be resumed on Saturday)
Joudrs Prague v Locos Breclav (POSTPONED: to be played on Saturday)
Based on results and postponements, the teams that remain to battle for medals in the Super Cup on Saturday are Stenlose Bulls, Oslo Alligators, Chomutov Beavers, Horsholm Hurricanes, Joudrs Prague and Locos Breclav. The Stenlose Bulls and Oslo Alligators are the only teams yet to lose a game in the double-elimination playoffs
Softball Europe Cup
Germany 7, Zagreb Giants 0 (6 inns)
Stags 5, BSK Medvednica 2
Vennep Flyers 12, Stags 5
Zraloci Ledenice 15, Germany 1 (4 inns)
Chicaboos 1, Montpellier Barracudas 0
Zraloci Ledenice v Magos Tenerife POSTPONED: (to be played on Saturday
Based on results and postponements, the teams that remain to battle for medals in the Softball Europe Cup on Saturday are Vennep Flyers, Montpellier Barracudas, Chicaboos, Zraloci Ledenice and Magos Tenerife. Chicaboos from Belgium is the only team yet to lose a game in the double-elimination playoffs.