GB U-18 Men show progress at Euro Qualifier

Thu 17 Oct 2019

Thursday 17 October – The GB Under-18 Men’s Fastpitch Team suffered two more defeats today at the ESF’s Under-18 Men’s Qualifier, but the new and inexperienced team 

continued to show encouraging signs of progress.

Today, the GB Team was matched against the top two countries in European men’s fastpitch, Denmark and the Czech Republic, so a GB win was unlikely.  But in their morning game against Denmark, GB improved on Wednesday’s performance against the Danes by taking them to five innings before losing by 13-2, and in the afternoon game against the Czech Republic, GB again extended the game to five innings and lost by only 7-0.

Despite the fact that the GB Under-18s remain without a win, they are still in with a chance, at least in theory, of capturing one of the two places open to European teams for next year’s WBSC Under-18 Men’s World Cup.

The first qualifying place will go to the team that wins the double round-robin that will conclude on Friday, and at the moment that looks likely to be the Czech Republic.  That will leave the remaining three teams in the competition – Denmark, Israel and GB – to contest a modified Page Playoff on Saturday, with the winner also gaining a World Cup place.

GB v Denmark

On Wednesday, Denmark defeated the GB Under-18 Men by 16-1 in just three innings; today, GB battled for five innings before going down 13-2 in an improved performance against a very strong opponent.

What’s more, GB pitcher Matthew Eder kept the Danish offense down over the first three innings, giving up just a single run in each frame, and after GB scored twice in the bottom of the second inning, the game was tied at two runs each.

However, GB was unable to score again, and the Danes then adjusted to Matthew Eder’s pitching and took advantage of GB errors to score four runs in the top of the fourth inning and six more in the top of the fifth inning to pull away.

GB had managed one hit on Wednesday against Danish pitching, by centre fielder Josh Stanley, but today they were held hitless by Danish starter William Melin, who pitched the first four innings, and by Victor Elsner, who pitched the fifth.

The two runs that GB scored in the second inning came about when Melin walked Matthew Eder and catcher Hayden Dabelstein to open the inning, and the pair then pulled off a double steal.  They remained at second and third as the next two GB hitters struck out, but an errant throw to third by Danish catcher Nicholai Rindom, also misplayed by the Danish left fielder, allowed both runners to score.

GB’s only other baserunners came on a walk to Bruce Candlish in the first inning, a walk to Daniel Downes in the third inning and an error on Jack Dyerslade’s ground ball in the fifth inning.  But William Melin struck out eight and Victor Elsner fanned three to kill off any potential GB rallies.

After committing just one error over the first four innings, GB finally cracked a bit in the top of the fifth, when four infield errors contributed to six Danish runs that put the game out of reach.

But these games, and that kind of pressure, can be a valuable learning experience, and all the signs are that this new GB Team is learning quickly.

GB v Czech Republic

Hayden Dabelstein pitched his first game for GB as they took on the Czech Republic on Thursday afternoon and turned in a very creditable performance, giving the Czechs just seven runs on six hits over four innings, striking out two.

The fact that the Czechs had inflicted a 17-0 defeat on Denmark on Wednesday puts GB’s performance today against the round-robin leaders in an even better light.

However, GB couldn’t muster much offense against Czech pitcher Dominik Subrt, who pitched a complete game and gave up just one hit, a single to right field by Josh Stanley in the fourth inning when GB had their only real scoring chance.  Subrt struck out 10 in five innings and walked only one.

In that fourth inning, after Josh Stanley’s one-out single, Hayden Dabelstein reached on a bunt on which the Czechs failed to get an out, and both runners moved up on a groundout.  But a strikeout ended the inning.

The Czechs scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning, and five more runs on four hits in the second inning, including a three-run home run by Adam Vavrecka.  But Hayden Dabelstein and the GB defense kept the Czechs off the scoreboard thereafter, and the final score gave the Czechs only the minimum mercy rule win, at 7-0 after five innings.

Results and standings

Thursday’s results are:

Denmark 13, GB 2 (5 inns)
Czech Republic 8, Israel 0 (6 inns)
Czech Republic 7, GB 0 (5 inns)
Denmark 12, Israel 2 (4 inns)

Round-robin standings after Thursday's games are:

Czech Republic (4-0)
Denmark (3-1)
Israel (1-3)
Great Britain (0-4)

Photo by the Israeli Softball Association

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