GB U-18 Men’s Team looks towards playoffs

Fri 18 Oct 2019

Friday 18 October – After completing their round-robin games today at the European Under-18 Men’s Fastpitch Qualifier at Kibbutz Gezer, Israel, the GB Under-18s are looking forward to Saturday’s playoffs, where they will still have a chance to qualify for next year’s World Cup.

GB lost to the undefeated Czech Republic this morning by a score of 17-1 in three innings, then looked forward to a game against Israel this evening, hoping to gain their first win of the tournament against a team that only beat them by a single run on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, Israel came up with a much stronger performance this time and cruised to a four-inning 13-1 win.

But GB Under-18 Head Coach Ian Tomlin will have saved some of his ammunition for Saturday’s playoffs, when GB will play Israel again in a game with much more at stake.

Despite the fact that GB finished the round-robin phase of the tournament at the foot of the four-team table with an 0-6 record, they still have at least a theoretical chance of gaining a place in next year’s WBSC Under-18 Men’s Fastpitch World Cup.

By virtue of winning the round-robin stage of the tournament with a 6-0 record, the Czech Republic has taken one of the two places available at the World Cup and will not need to play again.

On Saturday, the third and fourth-placed teams in the round-robin, Israel and GB, will play at 4.30 pm Israeli time (2.30 pm in the UK), and the winner will take on second-placed Denmark at 7.00 pm.  The winner of that game will also qualify for the World Cup.

So the GB Under-18 Men, a very young and inexperienced team with some players who are taking part in their first competitive fastpitch games, will still have something to play for as this tournament comes to an end.

And whatever the results on Saturday, this tournament will have been a wonderful learning experience and a great introduction to international softball.

GB v Czech Republic

GB’s first game this morning was their second go at the powerful Czech Republic, and the young GB team was unable to contain them as the Czechs scored seven runs in the top of the first inning, six in the second inning and four more in the third inning on the way to a 17-1 three-inning mercy rule win.

There were no GB hits in the game against Czech pitcher Jakub Osicka, but the British team did put a run on the board in the bottom of the first inning.  Daniel Downes led off with a walk, went to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on an error and then stole home.

GB had three other baserunners in the second and third innings, via walks to Harvey Robinson, Daniel Downes (again) and Bryn Davies, but Jakub Osicka was able to cut off potential rallies with strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Czech offense put up 11 hits in three innings against GB starter Matthew Eder, who pitched the first inning, and Bryn Davies, who threw the second and third innings, and the Czechs also took advantage of walks and wild pitches.

GB would not have expected to win this game, but having only lost to the Czechs by 7-0 on Thursday, they would have been disappointed that the score wasn’t closer.

GB v Israel

Israel managed only three hits in this game to two for GB, but the difference was that two GB pitchers gave the host team 10 baserunners via walks and helped them advance with a number of wild pitches, while Israeli starter Seth Ross, who pitched a complete game, gave GB just a single walk and threw just one wild pitch.

Briefly, the game was close, with Israel leading just 2-0 after an inning.  But then the Israelis scored six runs in the bottom of the second inning and five more in the bottom of the third to pull away.

GB’s run, and both their hits, came in the top of the third inning. Jack Dyerslade pushed a single through the left side of the infield to open the frame, and with one out advanced to second base on a wild pitch.  That put him in a position to score when Daniel Downes singled up the middle, but two strikeouts then ended the threat.

GB will hope that their game with Israel tomorrow will be much more like the first game the teams played to open the tournament on Wednesday, when GB took a 6-1 lead after three innings and was unlucky to lose by a score of 7-6.

Results and standings

Friday’s results were:

Czech Republic 17, GB 1 (3 inns)
Denmark 8, Israel 4
Czech Republic 16, Denmark 0 (3 inns)
Israel 13, GB 1 (4 inns)

Final round-robin standings were:

Czech Republic (6-0)
Denmark (4-2)
Israel (2-4)
Great Britain (0-6)

Photos courtesy of the Israeli Softball Association

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