In a real nail biter, the Kingdom of the Nethelrlands beat the Czech Republic in extra innings. The Dutch gave away the lead thrice but eventually ended at the right side of the score: 10-9.
The plan was to win the championship, but the championship game was nearly a bridge too far for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. After a quick lead for the Dutch, a very talented Czech team turned the game around, ran away to a four run lead. With timely hitting and good pitching, the Czechs put the pressure on the Dutch team but eventually, the Kingdom of the Netherlands managed to turn the tables thanks to a five run sixth inning.
In a packed home field of Draci Brno, the Dutch took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Czech shortstop Filip Smola committed an error on Rodney Daal’s “hit” and thus allowed Max Draijer, who had gotten on base thanks to an HBP, to score the opening run.
Dutch starting pitcher Ismail Ross struggled through the first inning but never made the end of it. He had some serious control issues as he gave up five walks, threw a wild pitch and allowed only one single. It gave the Czech Republic the opportunity to score three runs.
Twice the Dutch loaded the bases with two outs and twice they failed to take advantage.
In the meantime, Kennimar Locadia had taken over in the bottom of the first inning and pitched through seven innings and gave up two more runs to give the Czechs a 5-1 lead.
Czech manager Pavel Chadim replaced his pitchers in a rapid pace to keep the Dutch off balanced. Starter Ondrej Furko pitched 2.2 innings, allowing only one run on one hit and three walks. He struck out two. His replacement Lukas Ercoli lasted one frame and kept the Dutch from scoring as he walked two and fanned one. Especially Jiri Varvusa made the Dutch chase his nasty breaking balls.
But in the top of the sixth inning, Varvusa got into trouble as he loaded the bases with one out. And finally, the Dutch came through at the right time when Denzel Richardson singled to center field and drove in two. Richardson advanced to second on the throw towards home plate to put runners in scoring position. A double into the gap in right center field, hit by Kendrick Delima, tied the game at five. With Delima at third (got there on a fly out to center field hit by Rodney Daal), Ruar Verkerk sliced to left field to drive in the go-ahead run. Manager Chadim then replaced Varvusa with Filip Capka, who got the final out, but by then the damage was already done.
But with this slim lead, the game wasn’t over yet. In the bottom of the sixth, Kennimar Locadia allowed runners on the corners with no outs. Filip Smola hit straight to Locadia, who threw the ball towards second base to record the first out of the inning, but that allowed Vojtech Mensik to score the game-tying run.
A walk by Jelle Blaauw, a surprise bunt by Nick Peels and a single through the left side by Delano Selassa loaded the bases with no outs for the Dutch in the seventh. And for the first time in this game, the Dutch took advantage of a bases loaded situation when Max Draijer hit a sac fly to center field that allowed Jelle Blaauw to score the go-ahead run.
In the top of the eighth inning, new relief pitcher Tomas Ondra got some nice help from his defense. With one out, Ruar Verkerk hit a fly ball towards left center field, but center fielder Marek Chlup made a fantastic play as he dove and fully stretched to record the second out. But despite this nice defensive play, Ondra could not prevent the Dutch from scoring an insurance run as Rashid Engelhardt, who had doubled to center, scored on Jelle Kroft’s single to center field.
In the bottom of the ninth, Maickel Rietel, who pitched a great tournament so far, was replaced by Jeremyh Angela. This appeared to be a bad decision. Angela loaded the bases and then hit Jakub Ondracek with a pitch. Colin van Laar, who replaced Angela walked Mensik, but only because the home plate umpire refused to call a clear third strike, so the Czechs could score the game tying run.
The Dutch cashed in with runners in scoring position in the tenth inning. With runners on first and second (tie-breaker rule), Rodney Daal moved them over on a sac bunt. After Ruar Verkerk was caught out in shallow center field, Rachid Engelhardt doubled home Denzel Richardson and Kendrick Delima to give the Dutch another two-run lead.
The Czechs also placed runners on first and second and drew a walk to load the bases, as Van Laar had trouble finding the strike zone. Another walk, again because the umpire refused to call a third strike, brought the Czechs within a run from the Dutch.
But despite loading the bases giving up a walk, Van Laar eventually kept his cool and retired the next three hitters on strikeouts for the hard fought win. In 1.2 innings he gave up a run, walked three and struck out five. Ondrej Satoria took the loss after one inning of work in which he gave up two runs (one earned) on one hit.
Jelle Kroft was the best hitter as he went 1 for 2 with a RBI.
Delano Selassa: 1 for 4
Denzel Richardson: 1 for 6 with two RBI and two runs scored
Kendrick Delima: 2 for 5 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored
Ruar Verkerk: 2 for 6 with one RBI
Rachid Engelhardt: 2 for 6 with two doubles, 2 RBI and a run scored
Nick Peels: 1 for 4
2 Replies to “U23 European Championship: Kingdom of the Netherlands wins championship in extra innings”
The Czechs have made huge strides forward over the past two decades. So that explains something.
Congratulations! It seems like a tough game. Are the Czechs really that talented or is NL not or was it a fine pitching strategy by the Czech GM? Risky though, if this game had gone to extra innings the Czechs would have gotten into more trouble, I guess. Nevertheless, good to hear that red-white-blue is once again Europe’s number one!
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