GB U-19 Men go down twice on Day Two

Wed 26 Jul 2017

By Ian Tomlin

Prague, Czech Republic: 25 July – The GB Under-19 Men’s Fastpitch Team went into the second day of the European Junior Championship slightly bruised from a difficult first day and looking to change things with a game against winless Croatia and another stiff test against Denmark.

However, the day turned into a nightmare as GB continued to make errors in the field and struggled with the bat.  The result was two four-inning mercy rule defeats, by 23-0 to Croatia and 12-0 to Denmark.

Qualification for the playoffs is still within reach for the GB Junior Men at the halfway stage of the double round-robin, since four of the five teams will qualify.  But things will have to change if that is to happen.

Today, fielding errors appeared to be spreading throughout the team and chances of outs were being missed in every inning.  At bat, GB seemed to have no luck, with hits taking the direction of an opponent’s glove on almost every occasion.  Putting a string of hits together and scoring a run was something that dreams are made of.

The team has tried hard to get the break their endeavours deserve, but at every turn another twist of fate seems to halt them in their tracks.

GB v Croatia​

This game was a difficult watch for the travelling families as the GB Under-19s fell to their most disappointing defeat in the last four years.  The team came up short in all departments and never looked comfortable.

However, the game began with some promise, with GB shutting out the Croatian offense in the first inning and only conceding one run in the second.

GB’s opening at-bat, however, was an indication of what was to come.  Tom Lang drew a walk and stole second, and a run seemed on.  But George Young’s drive was caught in right field by Grygor Ilic and a double play on a line drive from Tom Russell ended the inning.

Croatian pitcher Bruno Kukolja put an end to GB’s second inning with two strikeouts on either side of a double by Nathan Barrett.

Then came the top of the third inning, which seems to be GB’s bogey inning in the tournament so far.  Croatia put up 10 runs as they batted through the order, and the game slipped away.

This was followed by the top of the fourth inning, where another 12 Croatian runs were added to the total.

The score flattered the Croatian side, as the divide between the teams was not that great.  But errors and unlucky results on offense were the story of a game that the GB Team was glad to see come to an end with the score standing at 23-0.

GB v Denmark

Following the morning’s performance against Croatia, GB now had a game to look forward to against a Danish team that seems to be cruising towards a place in the final, and Head Coach Chris Yoxall looked to lift the spirits of a young team that appeared to be suffering from stage fright.

However, the game quickly got away from GB as Danish pitcher Oscar Anderson set down the first three GB hitters, two on strikeouts, and then Denmark swiftly put five runs on the board, batting through their order.

GB errors were still in evidence, gifting runs to the Danes, and this continued throughout the game, with Denmark scoring 12 runs in three innings.

GB’s batting has been an issue, and much as the team has tried to put the ball in play, nothing has gone their way.  However, the rise ball from Oscar Anderson foxed batter after batter as he struck out five of the 13 batters who came to the plate, restricting the GB Under-19 Men to just one hit, a single by Tom Russell.

Wins over both Israel and Croatia during the second half of the double round-robin on Wednesday and Thursday could still see GB qualify for the playoffs.  A change in fortune and a little belief may be all that is needed.

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