Pioneers lose but Chromies & H20 stay unbeaten

Wed 1 Aug 2018

By Ben Taylor

Riccione, Italy: 1 August – The three British teams in the European Co-ed Slowpitch Super Cup were back on the diamonds on Tuesday, looking to maintain their unbeaten records.  But only two of them were going to be able to achieve that.

That’s because Tuesday’s games in a busy schedule, with 16 teams playing two games each, and a couple of teams playing three times, threw up a meeting between Pioneers and defending champions H2O in Pool B, and one team had to lose.

That team was Pioneers – but otherwise, the British teams kept on winning and all three look a good bet to make the Championship playoffs that will start on Thursday afternoon.

Below are reports on the games involving the British teams.  Full results from the first two days of the tournament can be found here.  

H2O v Waynes Pardubice

H2O's first game of the second day was against Waynes Pardubice from the Czech Republic.  Speaking to Chris Yoxall before the game, he felt this would be one of their tougher games this week, but there was little evidence of that in the first two innings, with H2O scoring five and then seven runs respectively.

H2O led off the first inning with consecutive base hits by Kirstie Leach and Chris Yoxall.  Annie Dubovec followed with a big hit to right centre field, which just caught the the top of the fence and scored Kirstie.  Waynes Pardubice then made three consecutive errors, which meant they were out in the field longer than they wanted to be and allowed an extra two runs.

When the Czech team finally came in to bat, Lukas Pavlak led off the bottom of the first with a nice hit up the middle.  However, a great double play turned by Brian Connolly and Chris Yoxall cleared the bases and a fly ball to Stewart Butcher ended the inning.

H2O started where they had left off in the bottom of the second inning, adding a further seven runs.  Annie Dubovec had a long home run over the centre field fence to drive in two of them, and there was no need for errors from the Czechs; this time all the hits were solid line drives. 

At 12-0, it looked like the game was getting away from Waynes, but when Helena Novotna hit a two-run triple to right field as part of a four-run rally in the bottom of the second inning, it seemed that the game might not quite be over.

Chris Yoxall led off the top of the third inning with a monster home run to left field, but H2O couldn’t add to that as the next three batters went down in order.  Waynes then had another good inning, scoring five runs, with Helena Novotna getting two more RBIs.

With the game now close at 13-9, H2O needed a good inning to stop the momentum that Waynes had found.  And up stepped Kirstie Leach, who stroked the ball beautifully into centre field on a two-strike count to bring in two vital runs.

As the game entered the bottom of the last inning, H2O led 16-12, and Waynes certainly had a chance of achieving a comeback.  But instead, they went down in order, bringing the game to an end.


Pioneers V TNT

TNT from Ireland had had a hard final game on Monday when they lost to H2O by 18-2, and they were looking to call on the hitting which saw them beat Delfini Riccione 18-8 in their other game on Day 1.

However, Pioneers would have different plans.

Pioneers started relatively slowing, scoring three runs over the first two innings, but TNT could not reply.  Then, in the bottom of the third inning, Pioneers exploded for nine runs, and the game was essentially over.

Amy Rice had a great game with the bat, with three hits and three RBIs, and Dan Spinks came up big with a grand slam over the left field fence.

When the fifth inning was over, Pioneers were 18-1 up and so the game ended on the mercy rule.

A mention must go to the TNT shortstop, Salvador Rizo, who made some fantastic plays during the game.

Pioneers v H2O

The last game of the day for both Pioneers and H2O was probably going to be the hardest of the round-robin, as they faced each other.  Both teams were 3-0 coming into the game and so one of them would walk away with their first loss of the tournament.

There was a decent crowd in the bleachers on Diamond 2 when Dan Bello stepped to the plate for Pioneers to open the game, and they were looking to be entertained.  They would not be disappointed.

Pioneers had a solid first inning, with Dan Bello leading off with a smart single up the middle.  Steve Hazard brought him home with a single of his own, and Natasha Humphris kept the rally going with a drive to right field.  Dan Spinks then stepped up and put a deep drive over the left field fence for the three RBIs for a 4-0 lead and a great start to the game for the Pioneers.

H2O could not answer, with only four batters coming the plate in the bottom of the first inning.

Pioneers extended their lead with an excellent hitting display in the top of the second inning, including Natasha Humphris’s three-run inside-the-park home run, another great hit which went under the right fielder's glove, allowing the bases to clear.  When Dan Spinks then hit his second home run of the game, it brought the score to 9-0.

H2O could only respond with a single run after Kelvin Harrison walked and Solange Starrenburg hit a single to score him.

The feeling was that if Pioneers could put a few more runs on the board, the game could be beyond an H2O comeback.  But H2O had different plans, and in an inning which featured back-to-back-to-back home runs from Chris Yoxall, Annie Dubovec and Kelvin Harrison, the game started to turn, with H2O scoring four runs in the bottom of the third inning.

Pioneers were unable to score again in the top of the fourth, leaving the door open for H2O to claw back more runs, which is exactly what they did.  Base hits from Natalie Moir, Kim Yeates and Kirstie Leach, and doubles from Brian Connolly and Annie Dubovec, brought in another three runs and closed the gap to just one run at 9-8.

The Pioneers, uncharacteristically, went scoreless again in the top of the fifth inning, and H2O took advantage, scoring six more runs, with everyone contributing, to take a 14-9 lead.

Pioneers needed at least six runs in the top of the sixth inning to have a chance of winning the game.  But while they were able to bring one run in, they could not find the remaining five and the game finished 14-10 to H2O.


Chromies v Sparks Mlade Buky

Sparks had looked a very decent team on Monday when they lost to former Super Cup winners UCE Travellers by just one run.  Unfortunately for the Czech team, however, they came up against an in-form Chromies team looking to score runs.

By the end of the second inning the score was 11-5 to Chromies.  Neither team scored in the third inning, but by the end of the fourth, Chromies had put up another seven runs with no response from Sparks, who now trailed 18-5.

Sparks could not find another run in the game and Chromies ended 26-5 winners.


Chromies v UCE Travellers

This was a game the neutral fan was looking forward to, as both of these sides are strong offensively and defensively.

Chromies, as the away team, didn’t get the best of starts in the top of the first inning, with two pop flies to lead off.  Eric Kelly then tried to get things going with a double up the left field line, but next hit was straight to the pitcher for the last out.

After Felix Schwan had taken a third strike looking, it didn’t look like the best start for UCE Travellers either in the bottom of the first inning.  However, Miriam Meyer and Max Zerhusen put runners in scoring position with a single and double respectively.  A sacrifice fly scored Meyer, and but for a good stop by Chromies pitcher David Lee, more runs could have been added.

The Chromies looked more like themselves in the top of the second inning.  Doubles by Katherine Golik, Danny Gunn and George Bartlett, as well as an inside-the-park home run by Matt Tomlin, brought three runs home.

Travellers responded well, however, with some good hitting of their own in the bottom of the second inning.  Base hits by Nina Linnert, Konstantin Muller and Raphael Macherey brought in three runs, and with two out, Travellers were able to manufacture a further four.  The inning ended with the Travellers holding an 8-3 lead.

But the Chromies didn’t panic, and hit well again over the next two innings, scoring eight runs while holding the Germans scoreless.  Key blows were Mike MacDowell’s three-run inside-the-park home run and Misha Sulcova’s deep shot to right field for a triple.  Chromies now had an 11-8 lead.

With the umpires calling no new inning at the start of the fifth, Chromies were looking to add insurance runs but could only add one, courtesy of Danny Gunn's sacrifice fly.

Travellers now needed five runs to win the game and were fully capable of achieving that.  But with runners on first and third and no one out, a short fly ball was hit to Mike MacDowell, who was playing in short left centre field.  After catching the ball, Mike saw that the runner on first had taken a large lead and fired the ball to first for the double play that broke the German rally.

The next batter hit a deep fly ball to left field which ended a well-contested game of softball in Chromies’ favour, at 12-9.


Standings

Below are the pool standings in the European Slowpitch Super Cup after Day 2.  The top four teams from each pool will go forward to Championship playoffs and will be in the hunt for a medal.

Pool A
Chromies (4-0)
Bandits Witches Linz (3-1)
Dodder Dynamoes (3-1)
UCE Travellers (3-1)
Sparks Mlade Buky (2-2)
Brevannes (1-3)
Afterburners (0-4)
Valmarecchia (0-4)

Pool B
H2O (4-0)
Mannheim Tornadoes (3-1)
Pioneers (3-1)
Akademics Sofia (2-2)
TNT (2-2)
Waynes Pardubice (2-2)
Delfini Riccione (0-4)
Mortsel Skywalkers (0-4)

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