GB Men bow out of World Championship

Sun 16 Jul 2017

The GB Men’s Team has come to the end of the road at the 2017 Men’s Fastpitch World Championship in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, as a 6-1 loss to Denmark on Saturday in the placing playoffs eliminated the team from the tournament.

GB finished 13th out of 16 teams, their lowest ranking in the five World Championships they have attended.


GB v Denmark

Both teams had only three hits in the game, but in what has been an all-too-familiar story for the GB Team in this tournament, the difference was walks and errors.

Two GB pitchers – James Darby and Kevin Stockford – gave up 10 walks between them while striking out nine, whereas Denmark’s two pitchers – Valdemar Terkelsen and Alexander Lorentsen – gave up only one walk and struck out 11.  Two GB errors in the game led to two unearned Danish runs.

Denmark did most of their scoring early, with single runs in the first and second innings and two more in the third.  Denmark’s final two runs came in the bottom of the fifth inning, and GB’s lone run was scored in the top of the sixth.

GB’s three hits – a bunt single by Amit Aswani, an infield single by Regan O’Neill, and a single to left field by Luke Peters – all came in the sixth inning, and produced the GB run.  Otherwise, the British had only two other baserunners, on a walk to Ieuan Gale in the top of the third inning and a Danish error in the top of the fourth on Kevin Stockford’s ground ball.  Neither got beyond first base.

Anders Jorgensen, Marc Nihoj and Mikkel Andersen had RBIs for Denmark.

James Darby started for GB and pitched into the third inning, when two walks and a series of wild pitches led to Denmark’s third and fourth runs.  GB player-coach Kevin Stockford pitched the remaining 3.2 innings.

For Denmark, Valdemar Terkelsen pitched six innings and Alexander Lorentsen was the closer in the seventh, retiring the side in order on a groundout and two strikeouts.


Summing up

This has been a difficult tour for a GB Men’s Team that started with reduced squad numbers and lost further players through injury, so that only 10 were left for the final games.

Lack of offense was the main issue as the team failed to score in six of their seven group games, and were no-hit on three occasions.  GB did score 24 runs against Turkey in pool play and eight against India in the placing playoffs, recording their only two wins, but both those teams were making their World Championship debuts and are relative newcomers to men’s softball.

The lone run that GB scored against an established team was the run scored by Amit Aswani and driven in by Luke Peters in their last game of the tournament against Denmark.

This GB team, like the one that did reasonably well in last year’s European Men’s Championship, was a mix of young GB-based players and veterans based overseas, but the level of play at the World Championship is considerably higher than in Europe, and on this occasion GB lacked the resources to cope with it.


At the top

Meanwhile, at the top end of the tournament, there are some familiar names as the 2017 World Championship goes into its last day.

New Zealand has already reached the final.  The defending champions, Canada, will play Australia for the other place in the gold medal game.

In the placing playoffs, the Czech Republic will play the Dominican Republic this afternoon on the Canadian west coast, with the winner playing South Africa for ninth place.

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