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European Baseball: Irish hearts broken in final

Ireland’s baseball team were outscored and outclassed by a better Slovakian team for the second time in two days

Both Ireland and Slovakia qualified for the final after finishing in the top two places of a group that also had Finland and Hungary. The winner of this final would qualify for the European Champions in Italy this year.

Frank Andrews needed to lift his team back up after a demoralizing defeat to Slovakia yesterday.

Ireland (2) v Slovakia (12), Bratislava

Smithers was reinstated at pitcher, he brought back the form he had in the Finland game, claiming three strikeouts in the first round.

Ireland started brightly this time but couldn’t find a good bat after filling the bases. After the first inning, the game remained scoreless.

Jakub Izold caught a sweet single for Slovakia which was enough for them to get their first man home. Smithers’ game had a low point as he let the bases fill before they got another run from an error.

Another misunderstanding between Smithers and Tim Shea led to a third point for the Slovaks. Defensive woes continued as Slovakia managed the fourth point before the end of the second.

Ireland had no response with three outs leaving the score at 4-0 to Slovakia going in the top of the third.

Smithers and the defense steadied the ship holding their opponents out for the third inning.

In the fourth inning, Slovakia wanted more points on the board and a brilliant home run by Mario Brunograf (that may have smashed a neighbor’s window) added three more to the scoreboard. Slovakia finished with two more men home giving them a nine-point lead.

The Slovakians showed their defensive class to get a double knockout leaving Ireland scoreless again after the fourth inning.

The score was 9-0 to Slovakia after the fourth

The classy defending continued with six outs in a row between the teams in the fifth.

David Gallagher got the games first single in two innings when Mike McGee finally brought some Irish magic with a home run to get Ireland two points.

In the seventh inning, Ireland swapped in Brendan Scott at pitcher, but he couldn’t stop Slovakia getting a score on his first pitch. The Slovakian attack became relentless with them next grabbing a double for two more scores. Defensive mistakes re-emerged in the Irish with McGee now at pitcher and Slovakia finished the inning with a ten-point lead.

The score now 12-2 to Slovakia

Ireland would need scores in this eighth inning to keep this game alive. JP Dolan started with a single but that is all the Irish could muster.

With the deficit too much for Ireland to climb the game was called at the top of the eighth inning. Slovakia left as deserved winners with a score of 12-2, qualifying for the European Championships in Piemonte.

It was a sad end to a good tournament for Irish baseball

As Slovakia lifted the trophy, Ireland could only wonder what could’ve been after their two comfortable wins in the opening games.

To finish on happy note, Ireland’s Smithers won the award for best pitcher at the competition. Hopefully, Ireland can build on these performances to go one step further in the next tournament.

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