The Irish baseball team faced their toughest opponents in Slovakia, losing in a game that relied on a busy third inning
Ireland had already got the wins needed for the qualification final after their first two comfortable victories against Finland and Hungary. Slovakia had also qualified so this was to be an interesting game, who would show their cards and who wanted to win more.
Today they faced a much tougher opponent in Slovakia who beat also beat the Finnish and Hungarians in their first two games. Slovakia also has the advantage of being the home team with the competition being hosted in Bratislava.
Congratulations to Fionn Gallaher-Hall on being named to the Irish Men's National Baseball Team! Fionn came to America in 2017 to attend a Nike Baseball camp as part of our Baseball Exchange Program. Here's a video of Fionn after getting off his flight at JFK! Good luck Fionn! pic.twitter.com/zj20xTD0el
— Baseball United Foundation (@Share_Baseball) June 22, 2021
Slovakia (15) v Ireland (5), Bratislava
Ireland started the game with some nerves, it didn’t help that Slovakia had a very capable pitcher, knocking three Irish batters out comfortably.
Brendan Scott was chosen to start pitcher for this game, and he continued the strikeouts. A quick first inning ended with no singles, just outs.
Ireland pushed on in this inning getting all three bases filled with two outs, but the Slovakians caught Brendan Power before he could make it home.
The home team batting improved as well but they only managed a single. Going into the top of the third, the quality pitching contest heated up.
After a quiet start, the third inning would set the tie alight.
Fionn Gallahar-Hall and captain Leo Farrell managed a lovely double steal at the start of the round. Ireland got the bases loaded again and a Jamie Cuevas hit got the two base stealers home for the first two points of the game.
Patrick Mitchell, Cuevas, and Power followed them home after some questionable Slovakian catching and defending.
An early double by Adam Zacko left Slovakia in a fruitful position with two on the bases, they capitalized with Grandzadonsky getting their first point. A double by Gotshall next let two more Slovakians make it home.
Slovakia got four more men home due to some poor Irish defending errors before a brilliant triple by Brunegraf got two more points for the Slovakians. They added one more to get their tenth of the round.
The third inning finished at 5-10 to Slovakia.
Ireland needed to bounce back but they found it hard against some strong Slovak pitching with Farrell only making it to third base.
Scott had troubles with his pitching in the last inning and tried to steady the ship at the bottom of the fourth. Power also improved with some clean defensive catches.
The game continued in the same vein with Ireland and Slovakia failing to score in the fifth and sixth innings. The boys in green switched pitching duties to Liam Shier.
It took until the bottom of the seventh inning for the game to liven up a bit again. Another new pitcher Patrick Mitchell was struggling to get into the game and let a Slovakian walk home. Next another great hit by Mario Gotshall sent three more Slovakians to home base.
The inning ended 5-14 to Slovakia.
Matt Dutton tried to give Ireland some energy in the eighth with a good double and then stealing third, but they couldn’t find a finishing touch to grab some points.
The game slowed as the clouds covered the field in Bratislava. Slovakia had the first two bases filled for Brunegraf to hit a great double and put the game out of Ireland’s reach.
With too much of a deficit for Ireland to overcome in one inning, the game was called one round early with a scoreline of 5-15 to Slovakia.
This Irish performance lacked any real energy and bite, it’s a good thing that the final tomorrow is the game that counts. The winner of the final will get a place at the European Baseball Championships in Piemonte, Italy.
Frank Andrews will have to pick his team up and give them some belief for their next meeting with Slovakia.
The final will be streamed live on YouTube at 15:00 with Ireland in need of some home support.