France, Hungary, and Switzerland have won their European Qualifier, making them advance to next year’s playoff tournament.
France, who was demoted last year after finishing in fifteenth place, was vastly superior in their Qualifier Tournament in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. All its matches in the round robin were won with double digits. In the final, the French were too strong for host nation Bulgaria, that was beaten 8-1. Mathias Lacombe earned the win after pitching thee innings in relief, in which he gave up a hit and a walk and struck out six. Bastien Dagneau was the best hitter for the French, as he went 2 for 3 with two RBI.
The Qualifier in Utena, Lithuenia, was won by Switzerland. In the round robin, host nation Lituania proved too strong for the Swiss as they beat the Alpine nation 15-14. But in the championship game, the Swiss stayed at the right side of a modest score (3-1).
Jonah Schaller earned the win. In seven innings, he gave up just one run on four hits and four walks, and struck out eleven. Joshua Crouse and Marquis Laton Richards both went 1 for 3.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of these three Qualifiers was in Belgrade, Serbia. As expected, Slovakia, which finished in sixteenth place in the 2019 European Championship, made it to the championship game, where it would face Hungary. The Hungarians proved too strong for Slovakia on the previous day, as they beat them 9-8. Today, the game wasn’t as close as the previous one, as Hungary beat Slovakia 8-1. Not only was Slovakia outscored by the Hungarians, they were also outhit 15-5. Sean Tamás Fekete earned the win after pitching eight innings, in which he allowed one run on five hits and three walks and struck out fourteen. The best hitter for Hungary was Bárint Pilos, who went 4 for 5 with three runs scored and two doubles.
These three countries will battle in the aforementioned playoff tournament. The top two teams of that tournament will advance to the 2023 European Championship.