GB Slowpitch Men go unbeaten in pool play

Thu 14 Jun 2018


Chocen, Czech Republic: 14 June – What looked on paper like a tough day for the GB Slowpitch Men turned out to be their easiest day yet at the European Men’s Slowpitch Championship, as the team pounded out 44 hits in two runaway wins over Belgium and Germany.

The results left GB with a perfect 6-0 record at the end of the first round-robin phase of the tournament, with four teams tightly bunched in their wake.

Against Belgium, in a four-inning mercy rule affair, GB scored heavily in every inning and Belgium barely scored at all, and the result was a 22-1 GB win.

Against Germany, GB put up 15 runs in the top half of the first inning, and that tends to discourage the opposition.  GB led 25-5 after three innings, and though Germany had a late flurry and managed to extend the game to five innings, the final score was an inevitable 29-13.

On Friday, the top four teams in the pool standings – GB, the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic – will start another round-robin that will determine seedings for Saturday afternoon’s Page Playoff to decide the medals.

The bottom three teams -- Belgium, Italy and Ireland -- will play a round-robin on Friday to determine Places 5-7 in the final standings, and will only be spectators on Saturday.

GB will go into the playoff rounds as the clear favourite, but Head Coach Stephen Patterson will not let the team get complacent.  There have already been tough games with the Netherlands and especially with the Czech Republic -- GB only managed a one-run win against the Czechs on Wednesday.

And there will be players and coaches here who will remember how the GB Slowpitch Team breezed through the opening rounds at last summer’s European Championship, only to come up short in the final.

The GB Men’s Slowpitch Team has shown a lot of promise and some hot bats during the initial round-robin, but the job is not yet done.

Assistant Coach and occasional pitcher David Lee said, “Every team has improved since Tuesday, so no games are easy and it'll take everything GB has to come out on top.”
 

GB v Belgium

Belgium had scored a 20-19 win over the Czech Republic on the first day of the European Men’s Slowpitch Championship, and GB likewise struggled to a one-run win against the Czechs on Day 2.  So a casual observer might have been forgiven for thinking that a GB v Belgium game would be a close affair.

Wrong!

In a four-inning mercy rule stomping, GB scored a bunch of runs in every inning, Belgium scored a single run in the bottom of the first inning off GB pitcher Mark Bowman, and the result was one of GB’s easiest wins so far, by a score of 22-1.

As the away team, GB knew it was important to hit well in the first inning, with the Belgium team looking dangerous and on the verge of qualifying for the playoffs. 

But GB bats were hot from the start and seven batters scored in the top of the first inning as the British batted through the line-up.  A three-run home run by Kelvin Harrison and doubles by Mike Macdowell and George Bartlett were the key blows.

Mark Bowman was back in the circle as the starting pitcher after his game off on Wednesday afternoon, and GB fielded a particularly young team behind him, with an average age of just 27.

Mark held the base-hitting Belgians to just one run in the bottom of the first inning, and then nothing at all thereafter as the Belgians managed only five hits in four innings and GB committed just a single error.

GB continued the hitting onslaught in the top of the second inning with another five runs, including a two-run inside-the-park home run from second baseman Robbie Studholme.

The fact that the Belgians failed to score over the next three innings was not just due to excellent pitching by Mark Bowman, but to GB flashing the leather on two stunning outfield catches and two superb double plays from the infield. 

However, strong batting throughout the order remains GB'S biggest asset, and this continued in the top of both the third and fourth innings, as GB scored 10 more runs over those two frames, taking the margin to “20 after four” and producing a quick end to the game.


GB v Germany

On paper this should also have been a close game, but the Germans chose to save their four best players for another day and fielded a distinctly understrength side.

As a result, GB chose to be ruthless and posted 15 runs in the top of the first inning and then blanked he Germans in the bottom of the frame.  That first-inning explosion featured three-run home runs from Mike Macdowell and Chris Yoxall, doubles from Kelvin Harrison, Chris Yoxall and Luis Arrevillagas, and 12 hits altogether plus three German errors.

There were five more GB runs in the top of the second inning and another five in the top of the third, and by the end of the third inning GB had a 20-run lead, at 25-5.  Batting was a showpiece of stinging line drives and out-of-the-park home runs from all the big hitters: Mike Macdowell, Chris Yoxall. Kelvin Harrison, Robbie Studholme and Luis Arrevillagas.

After the third inning GB decided to use the foregone conclusion as an advanced training game and got the entire squad into the contest, with a bunch of positional changes.  That allowed the Germans to score a few consolations runs in the fourth and fifth innings, but GB still ran out mercy rule winners after five innings by a score of 29-13. 

This comprehensive demolition put the finishing touches on GB’s 6-0 record on the group stages and finally earned the team a late start on Friday, when they will start the playoff round-robin at 2.15 pm local time.


Looking ahead

The pre-event favourites, the Netherlands, dropped another game on Thursday afternoon against the Belgians, who performed heroics to steal a 17-11 win with eight runs in the top of the seventh inning.

That left four teams – the Czechs, the Dutch, the Belgians and the Germans – within a game of each other with a crucial game to come this evening between the Czechs and the Dutch.  The only certainty at that point was that GB would top the group.

"We have won nothing yet," said Head Coach Stephen Patterson.  “All we have is a slight advantage.  Every other team will now want another run at taking GB down, so we must stay focused and ruthless to the last pitch of every game.  If we do, we might just make some history."

In the event, the Dutch took the Czechs apart in the evening game, breaking open what had been a tight game with 25 runs across the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.  That put the Dutch clearly into second place, leaving the Czechs, Germans and Belgians to sort out the next three places on runs conceded.  Belgium drew the short straw, and the Czechs and Germans lived to fight another day in Friday’s playoff round-robin.


Scores

Scores from Day 3 at the European Men’s Slowpitch Championship were:

GB 22, Belgium 1
Germany 32, Ireland 8
Czech Republic 29, Italy 12
Belgium 17, Netherlands 11
GB 29, Germany 13
Italy 21, Ireland 16
Netherlands 31, Czech Republic 13
 

Standings

The final first round pool standings are:

GB (6-0)
Netherlands (4-2)
Germany (3-3)
Czech Republic (3-3)
Belgium (3-3)
Italy (2-4)
Ireland (0-6)

On Friday, GB will play the Czech Republic at 2.15 pm Czech time, and then the Netherlands at 7.30 pm – the two teams that caused GB the most trouble in the first round-robin.

GB will play Germany at 10.45 on Saturday morning, and then the Page Playoff will begin at 1.00 pm on Saturday afternoon.

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Comments

15
Jun

Rich Brown 13:44

Great job guys. Keep up the good work & you will achieve
all the goals that you have set for yourselves.

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