British teams keep rolling in Slowpitch Cup

Thu 2 Aug 2018

By Ben Taylor

Riccione, Italy: 2 August – It was a perfect day for H2O, Chromies and Pioneers at the European Co-ed Slowpitch Super Cup on Wednesday, as all three British teams won both their games and sit at the top of the standings in both round-robin pools.

Chromies have a 6-0 record at the top of Pool A, just a game ahead of Bandits Witches Linz from Austria, while H2O lead Pool B on 6-0, followed by Pioneers on 5-1.  Pioneers’ only loss was to H2O on Tuesday.

Mathematically, all three British teams are now certain of a place in the playoffs that start on Thursday afternoon, when the top four teams from each pool will play the top four teams from the opposite pool.

However, while the British teams have enjoyed some easy wins over the first three days of the tournament, they haven’t been blowing everyone away.  Enough games have been close to suggest that when the playoffs begin, the British may not have everything their own way.


H2O v Delfini Riccione

With two strong wins on Tuesday, with the win over Pioneers the more important one with regard to the standings, the question was whether H2O could carry their momentum into this game.  Fourteen batters and 10 runs into the game, the answer appeared to be yes.  Three base hits in a row and then a deep shot by Solange Starrenburg, which easily cleared the head of the left centre fielder, showed H2O’s intention to put pressure on the Italian team early.

Riccione, who had been kept in the heat for some time, needed to respond to avoid the game running away from them, but three straight pop fly outs off six pitches is not what they would have hoped for.  At the end of the first inning, H2O were 10-0 up.

In the top of the second inning, H2O were not as ruthless as they had been in the first, only scoring two more runs.  But they were still hitting the ball hard.

Riccione recorded their first hit of the game in the bottom of the second inning, but any rally they thought they might be putting together was cut short with a smart double play.  Third base player Amy Wells fielded a sharply-hit ball and turned and threw to second base, where Brian Connolly collected the ball and fired to first to complete an impressive double play.

Any hope Riccione may have had of producing a comeback was completely wiped out in the third and fourth innings as H2O hit the ball all around the diamond, scoring 23 runs.  Riccione did score a run in the bottom of the third inning following a good line drive hit from Brunella Parama, but that was the only run they managed as the game finished 35-1 to H20.

Although the score may give the impression that Riccione lacked quality, in fact you could see they had some good ball players.  However, they all looked to be either fastpitch or baseball players, and slowpitch is just a different beast.  It will take time to acclimatise, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a significant improvement in the Italian team towards the end of the tournamment.

Roger Grooms, H2O’s player/manger, said he was pleased with the performance and it was an opportunity for all of his players to get some game time.


Pioneers v Akademics Sofia

Pioneers were coming into this game off the back of their first loss of the tournament to H2O on Tuesday, and so needed to respond with a win.

The only Bulgarian team to feature in the tournament, the Akademics started the first inning well, scoring one run off a well-hit ball up the middle by Aldensie Ewing.  Pioneers did not respond, going down in order.

The Akademics could not get anything going in the second inning, as only four batters came to the plate.  Pioneers took advantage, and the lead, by scoring two runs, but were still waiting for the break-out inning to create the gap they wanted.

Neither team batted well over the next two innings, with Akademics scoring no runs and Pioneers only getting one more on the board.  At the end of the fourth inning the score was just 3-1 to the British team.

After the Akademics went scoreless again in the fifth inning, Dan Spinks took his team into a huddle, looking to drive some urgency into the game.  A patient lead-off walk from Natalie Hanson, followed by a single from Amy Rice, got runners in on the bases.  Steve Hazard’s double and Ruth Macintosh’s single then brought in four runs for the inning and Pioneers led 7-1.

The sixth inning would be the last inning of the game due to the new 75-minute game format.  The Akademics again went scoreless, but Pioneers added a further four runs to the end the game 11-1 winners.


Chromies v Brevannes

Speaking to Doug Clouson, Chromies Team Manager, before the game, he said he was not taking this game lightly but expected to use most of his players as an opportunity to mix things up.

Although the game looked tight after the first inning and a half, Chromies stepped into first gear in the bottom of the second inning and again in the bottom of the fifth, scoring five and nine runs respectively.

The game eventually ended on the mercy rule in the bottom of the fifth inning with Chromies leading 20-2.  There were a number of home runs in the game, with Danny Gunn, Eric Kelly, and Michael O’Sullivan hitting one each and Manny Estevez hitting two over the fence.


H2O v Skywalkers

The Skywalkers came into this game without a win in the tournament and so, in theory, this should have been one of the less testing games for H2O.

However, the Skywalkers started well, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning, with a deep drive by Sven Goormans good for two RBIs.  H2O responded with five runs of their own in the bottom of the inning, with Stewart Butcher hitting a three-run home run and Annie Dubvec smashing a monster drive which hit the bottom of the 300-foot fence.

The Skywalkers were unable to continue their positive start and went down in order to in the top of the second inning.  H2O, on the other hand, continued to put pressure on the Belgium team and tacked on a further three runs to make the score 8-2 at end of the inning.

The Skywalkers went down in order again in the top of the third inning, giving the opportunity for H2O to put the game to bed, but they were unable to do so, with only five batters coming to the plate.

While the Skywalkers were able to string together a couple of hits in the top of the fourth inning, they could not score any more runs.  At first, it looked like H2O would not take this second opportunity, as the first two batters in the bottom of the inning hit pop flies for two quick outs.  However, H2O then put together a string of hits which were good for 12 runs, including a pinch-hit three-run home run from Brian Connolly.

The Skywalkers could not score again, and so the game ended 20-2 to H2O on the mercy rule -- a very good end to an impressive day of play by the whole H2O team.


Chromies v Dodder Dynamoes

Dodder Dynamoes from Ireland took the field as the visiting team needing a win to have a chance of qualifying for the top four and a chance to win the tournament.  However, they didn’t get off to the start they needed in the top of the first inning, as they were only able to send four batters to the plate before a hard line drive was caught by Mike MacDowell at second base for the final out.

Chromies would want to take advantage of this, and with MacDowell leading off with a smartly-hit ground ball for a double in the bottom of the inning, things looked promising.  But though MacDowell scored on a throwing error, Chromies could not add any more than the one run.

Dynamoes led off the second inning with a deep shot to left field by Brian Franks, but could not add anything further to the home run.  Chromies put together some hits to score two runs, ensuring they kept scoring in every inning.

The Dynamoes were not about to lay down just yet, however, and with crisply-hit singles from Ken and Noeleen Mccarthy and then a long drive, for the second time, by Brian Franks, they ended the top of the third inning with three runs on the board and a 4-3 lead.

The lead did not last long, however, as the game went to and fro.  Hannah Pitman came up big in the bottom of the third inning, putting a line drive down the left field line to bring in two runs, and Chromies scored three in the inning.

This had the makings of a fantastic offensive game, as Dynamoes scored three more runs in the top of the fourth inning, and with Chromies unable to score, Dynamoes took the lead again.

Dynamoes added another run courtesy of their home run-hitting #39, Brian Franks, in the top of the fifth inning.  That made for a hat trick of home runs, with four RBIs in the game.

However, anyone who knows the Chromies knows they perform under pressure, and in answer to the Dynamoes’ run, they put up five themselves in the bottom of the frame.  Hannah Pitman was in the middle of things again with a two-strike double which drove in two more runs.  Chromies now led 11-8.

Although Ken McCarthy was able to get a run back with home run to left field in the top of the sixth inning, it would not be enough and Chromies would end the game 11-9 winners.


Pioneers v Delfini Riccione

The home town team had a hard schedule today, first playing H2O in the morning and then Pioneers in the evening game.

There was not much to this game, and Pioneers never really needed to get out of second gear.  The game was close at the end of the first inning, with just a run separating the teams, but Pioneers were never in danger of losing.

They took control of the game in the bottom of the second inning with four runs and just kept adding on.  Steve Hazard contributed heavily with five RBIs and two home runs, while Natalie Hanson and Ruth Macintosh also had solid games with two RBIs each.

The final score was 15-5 to the Pioneers.  


Scores

Scores from Day 3 of the tournament in games involving the British teams are:

H2O 35, Delfini Riccione 1
Pioneers 11, Akademics Sofia 1
Chromies 20, Brevannes 3
H2O 20, Mortsel Skywalkers 2
Chromies 11, Dodder Dynamoes 9
Pioneers 15, Delfini Riccione 5

A full list of scores in the tournament so far can be found here.  
 

Standings

Below are the pool standings in the European Slowpitch Super Cup after Day 3, with just one round of games remaining in the initial round-robin.  The top four teams from each pool will go forward to Championship playoffs and will be in the hunt for a medal.

Pool A
Chromies (6-0)
Bandits Witches Linz (5-1)
UCE Travellers (4-2)
Dodder Dynamoes (3-3)
Sparks Mlade Buky (3-3)
Afterburners (2-4)
Brevannes (1-5)
Valmarecchia (0-6)

Pool B
H2O (6-0)
Pioneers (5-1)
Mannheim Tornadoes (4-2)
TNT (4-2)
Waynes Pardubice (3-3)
Akademics Sofia (2-4)
Delfini Riccione (0-6)
Mortsel Skywalkers (0-6)

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