Meteors gain a fine win at Men’s Super Cup

Wed 28 Aug 2019

Wednesday 28 August – The Meteors Men’s Fastpitch Team recorded their first win this afternoon at the 2019 European Men’s Super Cup in Nettuno, Italy with an emphatic 12-2 five-inning mercy rule win over the Croatian team SC Span.

The game was close most of the way, with Meteors holding a 4-2 lead after four innings.  But a huge eight-run outburst in the top of the fifth inning, capped by Josh Peat’s three-run inside-the-park home run, took the game right out of the Croatians’ reach.

Karl Hjelm pitched all five innings for Meteors and gave up only three hits, striking out five.  Two of those hits came in the bottom of the first inning, when SC Span scored twice and took a brief 2-1 lead.  But the Croatians never scored again, as Karl gave up only a hit and two walks, one intentional, the rest of the way.

The Meteors had seven hits off three Croatian pitchers, and were also the beneficiaries of nine walks, a hit batter and a number of wild pitches and passed balls.  In addition, the Meteors took full advantage of speed, stealing five bases.

All in all, it was an excellent offensive display by the Meteors against a team that had already recorded two wins in Pool B.  While the Meteors will still finish bottom of the pool with a 1-4 record when round-robin play ends later today, they will have been thrilled to record a win in group play before moving on to the ESF II Cup for the second half of the tournament.


Taking the lead

Meteors took a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Matt Tomlin led off with a walk, stole second and scored on a one-out double to left centre field by Jorge Giraut-Ponte.

But SC Span replied with two runs in the bottom of the first inning to take their only lead of the game.  Cedric Nzambi lined a single up the middle to lead off for the Croatians, went to third on a single by Luka Spoljar and scored on a groundout.  Spoljar later scored on an error.

But Meteors reclaimed the lead in the top of the second inning.  Josh Stanley, one of the youngest and quickest Meteors, walked, stole second and third and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Mason Brockway.

Tom Russell then singled up the middle for the first of his two hits, stole second, and advanced to third and then home on wild pitches.

Meteors now led 3-2 and it was a lead they would never relinquish.  In the top of the fourth inning, another run took the score to 4-2.  Croatian starter Luka Spoljar walked Josh Stanley, Ieuan Gale and Mason Brockway to open the inning, and though Josh was out trying to steal third during that sequence, the remaining runners moved up on a wild pitch and Ieuan scored on a groundout by Tom Russell.


Pulling away

Considering some of the things that had happened to the Meteors on Monday and Tuesday, 4-2 was a slender lead to defend.  But in the top of the fifth inning, Meteors relieved all the tension with eight runs against three different Croatian pitchers.

Josh Peat drew a walk from Luka Spoljar to open the inning, and that was the end for the Croatian starter, who was replaced by the harder-throwing Kristijan Belas.  But the Meteors adjusted quickly, and after Belas retired Jorge Giraut-Ponte, there was a walk to Damon Brown and a single to right by Amit Aswani, and when the right fielder misplayed the ball, two runs scored.

Later in the inning, Mason Brockway and Tom Russell had singles, there were more walks and wild pitches, and with five runs home, a third and even harder-throwing Croatian pitcher, Cedric Nzambi, came to the circle – only to throw a wild pitch, then walk Matt Tomlin, and then give up the three-run inside-the-park home run to Josh Peat before recording the third out.

Meteors now led 12-2, and Karl Hjelm retired the Croatians in order in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Head Coach Robbie Robison said, “We knew that the result of this game wouldn’t change where we finished in the group, but it’s all about pride and confidence going forward.  We made great adjustments to the different pitchers they brought in during the fifth inning, and the result was thoroughly deserved.”


Looking ahead

Starting tomorrow (Thursday), the tournament will divide into two different competitions.  The top three teams from each first-round pool – 12 teams in all – will go forward to the Super Cup group, and the remaining nine teams to the ESF II Cup.

Both competitions will be played as double elimination, so the Meteors will play at least two more games, and more if they can build on today’s performance and keep winning.

At 9.00 am Italian time on Thursday morning, Meteors will play the team that finishes fifth in Pool C, which is looking like BC Contois from France.

If Meteors win that game, they will play again at 3.00 pm on Thursday, probably against Zuidvogels from the Netherlands, but if Meteors lose tomorrow morning’s game, they will play again at 9.00 am on Friday.  Win and keep going will be the name of the game.


Scores and standings

Scores on Wednesday from the final first-round games in Pool B were:

Oslo Alligators 10, Nieuwegen Diamonds 3 (5 inns)
Hoboken Pioneers 13, Spectrum Praha 7
Meteors 12, SC Span 2 (5 inns)
Oslo Alligators 15, Hoboken Pioneers 0 (3 inns)

Final standings in Pool B are:

Oslo Alligators (Norway) (5-0)
Hoboken Pioneers (Belgium) (4-1)
SC Span (Croatia) (2-3)
Spectrum Praha (Czech Republic) (2-3)
Nieuwegen Diamonds (Netherlands) (1-4) 
Meteors (GB) (1-4)

Scores and standings from the other three first round pools can be viewed on: http://competition.europeansoftball.org/2019/nettuno/schedule.php.

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