Meteors lose a pair on Men’s Cup Opening Day

Mon 26 Aug 2019

Monday 26 August -- The Meteors Men’s Fastpitch Team, representing Great Britain in the European Men’s Super Cup in Nettuno, Italy this week, had a tough opening day, going down to a Czech team this morning and a Belgian team this afternoon.

The Meteors are playing during the opening phase of the tournament in the six-team Pool B, one of four pools encompassing the 21 teams from 12 countries that have entered the competition.

This morning, the Meteors were up early to take on a tough Czech team, Spectrum Praha, and played well on defense but lost 9-0 in five innings.  A report on this game has been on the BSF website since late this morning and can be read below.

Early this afternoon, the Meteors were back in action against the Hoboken Pioneers from Belgium, and though the Meteors put together some offense in this game and scored in every inning, two six-run innings in the top of the first and the top of the third, and then another seven runs in the top of the fourth, set the Belgians on their way to a 19 -7 mercy rule win in four innings.

Meteors v Hoboken Pioneers

The Belgian team put on a massive display of power in this game against two Meteors pitchers – Karl Hjelm who started, Josh Peat who took over in the third inning, and Karl Hjelm again, who came back to the circle in the fourth and finished the game.

Five Belgian home runs sailed over the fence during the contest, including two by right fielder Dennis De Quint, and home runs accounted for 11 of Hoboken’s 19 runs.  The Pioneers banged out 16 hits in all, and apart from the top of the second inning, when Josh Peat set them down with just a walk, there were Belgian runners wheeling around the bases for most of the game.

But there were also some crucial errors by the Meteors on plays that might have got them out of innings with much less damage.  “There were two errors that cost us six runs,” Head Coach Robbie Robison said after the game, “and the boys are learning that you can’t do that at this level and get away with it.”

Count the runs

The Pioneers opened in the top of the first inning with a six-spot.  The frame including back-to-back home runs – a three-run shot by Dennis De Quint followed by a solo home run from Kenn van den Branden – and also featured an error, a walk, two wild pitches and a stolen base.

But the Meteors got on the board in the bottom of the first, when Jorge Giraut-Ponte showed that the Belgians did not have a complete monopoly on power by homering over the fence in left field.

After Hoboken failed to score in the top of the second inning, the Meteors added another run to cut their deficit to 6-2 against Belgian starter Kristoff van Aarsen.

Amit Aswani led off the bottom of the second with a single up the middle, advanced to second on a groundout and scored on a single through the right side by Josh Stanley.

But in the top of the third inning the Pioneers came up with another six runs to extinguish any realistic hopes the Meteors might have of getting back in the game.  There were two more home runs in this inning – a second by Dennis De Quint and a three-run blast by first baseman Alain Lambeau to go with three singles, a walk and an error.

Keeping going

Meteors may have been down but they certainly weren’t out, and they scored two runs in the bottom of the third inning off the Belgians’ second pitcher, Seth Gibson.

Matt Tomlin walked to open the inning, went to second a wild pitch and scored when the Belgian centre fielder misplayed Josh Peat’s fly ball.  Josh wound up on third and scored on a wild pitch.

But the Hoboken onslaught was unrelenting, and they took the score well into mercy rule territory with seven more runs in the top of the fourth inning off Karl Hjelm, who came back for his second stint in the circle at the start of the inning.

There was only run home run this time, good for three more runs off the bat of Seth Gibson, plus doubles by Kenn van den Branden and Ivan de Groote, four singles, a walk and an error.

Though the game was lost, the Meteors stuck to their task and put up three more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning in an attempt to get the contest to the fifth inning.

With one out, Mason Brockway reached on an error and moved to third on a groundout and a wild pitch.  Matt Tomlin then walked and Josh Peat singled to shortstop Huw Davies, scoring Mason.  When Davies threw the ball away on the play, Matt went to third and Josh to second and both eventually scored on wild pitches.

Jorge Giraut-Ponte then drew a walk off a labouring Seth Gibson, but Damon Brown grounded back to the pitcher to end the rally and the game.

Robbie Robison said, “The players were getting their opportunities on offense in this game and taking them, and that’s good news.  The progression we’ve made over the first two games today has been fantastic.  But going forward, we need to limit opportunities for the opposition as well as taking our own.”

Looking ahead

Meteors will play two more games tomorrow, against the Oslo Alligators from Norway at 9.00 am Italian time (8.00 am in the UK) and against the Nieuwegen Diamonds from the Netherlands at 5.00 pm local time.

A final first-round pool game – against SC Span from Croatia – will be played at 1.15 pm on Wednesday.

After Wednesday, the top three teams from each of four first-round pools will go forward to a 12-team Super Cup group and the remaining nine teams will play for the ESF II Cup.

Both of those second-round competitions will be played with a double-elimination format, and in the Super Cup group, the winners from each of the first round-robin groups will get an initial bye.  It’s a complicated format, but all teams will play at least through Friday.

Scores and standings

Scores today in Pool B, where the Meteors are playing in the round-robin phase of the tournament are:

SC Span (Croatia) 1, Nieuwegen Diamonds (Netherlands) 0
Spectrum Praha (Czech Republic) 9, Meteors (GB) 0 (5 inns)
Hoboken Pioneers (Belgium) 19, Meteors (GB) 7 (4 inns)
Spectrum Praha (Czech Republic) 11, Nieuwegen Diamonds (Netherlands) 8
Oslo Alligators (Norway) 10, SC Span (Croatia) 0 (4 inns)

Standings after Monday's play in Pool B are:

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

Scores and standings from the other three first round pools can be viewed on:

Meteors v Spectrum Praha

The Meteors always knew it would be a tough opener this morning against the Czech team Spectrum Praha, and so it proved, as the Czechs won 9-0 on the mercy rule in five innings.  All their runs came in the first three frames: three in the top of the first inning, four in the second and two in the third against pitcher Karl Hjelm. 

The Czechs earned those runs with a barrage of base hits, as the Meteors played errorless defense, though three walks and four wild pitches gave them some help in moving runners around the bases.

Karl settled down after that and held the Czechs scoreless over the final two innings, but Meteors were never going to challenge that kind of lead.

Scoring chance

The British team had their best scoring chance in the bottom of the first inning when Jorge Giraut-Ponte singled with two out and Neil Davies and Damon Brown drew the only two walks issued in the game by Czech starter Ales Jetmar.  But a short passed ball led to confusion on the bases and the Czechs eventually got Jorge out on a rundown between third and home.

Jetmar pitched all five innings for the Czechs and struck out 13 while giving up two further singles, by Amit Aswani in the bottom of the second inning and Damon Brown in the fourth inning.  But Meteors were unable to get either runner beyond second base.

The Czech team might have scored even more but for the Meteors defense.

After the game, Robbie Robison said, “We did really well, and given the quality of the opposition, we were comfortable in the game.  Our defense was excellent.  Josh Peat made some great plays at shortstop, and our outfielders were going back to the fence to take hits away.  Matt Tomlin bounced off the fence to make a great catch in centre field.  There was lots of energy and we’re looking forward to the games coming up.”

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