In Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, the preliminary round saw its last series of games. Unbeaten Israel and Russia have clinched a spot in the finals already. Even if Russia would lose and Greece would win, the Russians will qualify as they beat Greece in the mutual game. The following games were scheduled today: Ireland hosted Israel, Russia took on Serbia and Bulgaria literally hosted Greece.
Israel 10 – 3 Ireland
After its last game in the preliminary round, Israel remains the only unbeaten team of this group. In today’s game, Israel was too strong for Ireland. The Irish were in the lead for half an inning when they scored three runs on a bases-loaded single and a passed ball but Israel bounced back in the third as it scored thrice to take a 5-3 lead and never looked back. In the next two innings, Israel scored five more runs, for example three in the fifth inning on two singles and a sac fly.
Eric Brodkowitz pitched five innings for the win. He gave up three runs (two earned) on three hits and two walks and struck out eight. Brendan Scoot took the loss as he pitched two innings and started the third in which he did not record an out. He gave up five runs on seven hits and a walk and struck out one.
Rob Paller was the best hitter for Israel as he went 3 for 4 with one RBI and a run scored.
Serbia 3 – 12 Russia
The Russians already clinched a spot in the final on the previous day. So today’s game was not important anymore. Nevertheless, the Russians pushed for twelve runs in this game. Two consecutive four-run innings set the tone in this game. The Serbs took the lead in the first inning but a four-run second turned the tables. Throughout the game, Serbia had three one-run innings. A three-run sixth and a one-run eighth inning put the final score on the board.
Adrian Rodriguez pitched seven innings for the win. He gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits and seven walks and struck out five. Christian Bokich took the loss. He lasted 1.1 innings and allowed four runs on three hits and five walks.
David Castillo was the best hitter for Russia as he went 3 for 5 with a double, a home run, four RBI and a run scored.
Greece 9 – 6 Bulgaria
Greece handed Bulgaria its fifth loss in as many games. As a result, Bulgaria finished last in this group and will be demoted to the C-pool.
In the third inning, Greece immediately took a three-run lead on a single, a wild pitch and a double. Bulgaria on its turn scored twice in the bottom of the first to keep pace with Greece. After the Greek scored four runs in the third, one in the fourth and one in the sixth, Bulgaria rallied in the eighth. With the bases loaded, Alexander Nassapov hit a bases-clearing single to bring Bulgaria within four runs of Greece. But from there the Bulgarian offense was shut down.
Jonathan Kountis earned the win for Greece. In five innings he gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits and one walk and struck out five. Paul Midili took the loss. He lasted three innings in which he gave up seven runs (four earned) on seven hits and two walks as he struck out five.
Thomas Roulis was the best hitter as he went 3 for 5 with an RBI and three runs scored.
In Trnava, Slovakia, the semi-finals were scheduled today. The winner of Group A, Switzerland took on the runner up of Group B, Lithuania. Slovakia, the winner of Group B took on Ukraine, the runner up of Group A.
Lithuania 12 – 7 Switzerland
Surprisingly, Lithuania, that finished in second place of its group with a 2-1 record, beat the winner of group A, Switzerland in today’s first semi-final.
Even though Lithuania had a big first inning as it scored four times, the Swiss managed to tie the game at six in the fifth inning when TJ Oshima scored on a throwing error. In the following innings, neither team did score so after the ninth, extra innings were needed. With runners placed on first and second, Audrias Beliauskas was hit by a pitch and thus loaded the bases. Vytas Valincius then hit a grand slam to give Lithuania a commanding lead. But Lithuania wasn’t done yet. With runners in scoring position, a single and a fielding error led to two more runs. Switzerland on its turn managed to score one run in the tie break.
Evard Matusevicius pitched 5.1 innings in relief for the win. He gave up an unearned run on a single and four walks and struck out eight. Tobias Siegrist took the loss after three innings as a reliever. He allowed six runs (four earned) on four hits and a walk and struck out three.
Vytas Valincius was the best hitter as he went 3 for 4 with two home runs, five RBI and three runs scored.
Ukraine 18 – 1 Slovakia
In the other semi-final, Ukraine needed six innings to seal the hosting country’s feat in a very lopsided game. After a scoreless first inning, Ukraine scored seven times on five hits and three errors. As Ukraine had two more big innings, Slovakia could score only one run in the sixth on a 6-3 groundout.
Maksim Lisnytskyi pitched a six-inning complete game in which he gave up a run on five hits and a walk as he struck out five. Marek Bosanski took the loss. In three innings, he allowed nine runs (five earned) on eight hits and struck out two.
The best hitter for Ukraine was Konstiantyn Boiko, who went 3 for 4 with two RBI and three runs scored.
Ukraine and Lithuania will face each other in tomorrow’s final. The winner will face the winner of the Blagoevgrad group in a best of three playoff series at the end of July, for a spot in the A-pool in September.