European Baseball: Ireland ease past Finland in opening game

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Ireland won comfortably in their first game of the European Baseball qualification against Finland.

The Irish are in a group with Hungary, Slovakia, and Finland taking place in Bratislava, Slovakia. Only one team from the group with qualify for the European Baseball Championships

Franks Andrew’s team are confident about the competition ahead with Leo Farrell named as team captain.

Ireland (6) v Finland (1), Bratislava

The game began slowly with both team’s batters failing to cleanly strike a ball in the first inning.

In the second inning Ireland eased their nerves, pitcher Callum Smithers was crucial as Finland struggled to deal with his left-handed throws.

Patrick Mitchell made the first single of the game and after some mistakes by the Finnish pitcher, Ireland had all three bases loaded. Unfortunately, Leo Farrell struck out and Finland left the inning unscathed.

The great pitching continued as all the Finnish batters struck out at the top of the third.

A good high strike by short stop, Brian McAuliffe, left Ireland in a good position but again they couldn’t capitalize.

Into the bottom of the fourth inning and the game came to life. With JP Dolan and Mitchell already on bases, Fionn Gallahar Hal sends the ball over the head of the center for a great triple.

After a Farrell hit, Gallahar Hal makes it home to put Ireland ahead 3-0 after the fourth inning.

Smithers’ finally made a mistake at the top of the fifth, hitting the batter and letting him walk to first base. After some precise throwing, he made up for his error and Finland was out.

The Finnish decided to change pitcher at the bottom of the fifth to Tomi Toivio who does well in his first inning.

On the sixth, Ireland showed more class with Gallagher getting a single off a Finnish mistake and then stealing second. A great long strike by McAuliffe gets him a double and lets Gallagher home. Cuevas gets another double for Ireland and McAuliffe adds another point to the board to make it 5-0 at the end of the sixth

Jose Mesa was a bright spark for Finland as he got their first single but a quick play by Shea catches him out trying to steal second.

Ireland continued to try stealing bases with Brendan Power speed nearly making it home before he was tagged by Mesa.

Liam Shier came in the eighth inning to replace Smithers at pitcher. He eased into the game with Finland struggling with some of his fast balls.

For Ireland’s turn, Fox managed a single when batting but went on to steal second and third. Michael McGee followed by stealing second. A single by Mitchell let Fox run home and Ireland was 6-0 up with only one inning left.

Finland made one last push and with the bases fully loaded, a Mesa single let Finland get their first man home. Sadly for the Finnish, a long Andreas Fopp swing was caught by the Irish to finish the game

A very strong opening baseball match by the boys in green and white will give them confidence for their next match.

Irish pitcher Liam Smithers prove to be the biggest difference between the two teams as he retired 16 of Finland’s players throughout the game.

Ireland will face Hungary tomorrow, the 1st July with all matches being shown live on YouTube.

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