Today’s action at the European Baseball Championships features the following matchups:
Netherlands (2-0) vs Sweden (1-1)
The tournament favorites have been as good as advertised and will not be overlooking a Swedish squad that hung tough in a 2-0 loss the last time the two teams met in 2005. With unbeaten Germany looming next could the Dutch get caught looking past Sweden? I doubt it matters.
France (2-0) vs Ukraine (0-2)
The French picked up their biggest win of the tournament Sunday by beating Italy in a shocker. France beat Ukraine 10-0 two years ago and seem a sure bet to make it to the final round this time. Ukraine almost pulled off a shocker against Spain but faltered late in the game.
Czech Republic (1-1) vs Austria (0-2)
The Czech Republic ran into the buzz saw that goes by the name of the Dutch National Team but should rebound against an Austria squad that has already played the top two teams in Pool A. Czech pitchers only had to throw six innings against the Mighty Dutch which is definitely a positive note.
Spain (1-1) vs Russia (0-2)
Spain looked mediocre in a win over lowly Ukraine and now must face a dangerous Russian team who will be looking to crash the host nation party. Russia has pitched well at times and managed 10 hits against an average British pitching staff. This game will spotlight a resurgent Spanish squad or an overhyped squad that will fail to win a medal.
Germany (2-0) vs Croatia (0-2)
The Germans got another sparkling pitching performance (Manuel Moeller) but the decision to allow the Mainz ace to throw all seven innings is interesting, although this speaks for a very stong german pitchng staff. With both Spain and Italy struggling in Pool B, the Germans find themselves as legitimate contenders for the top prize. Croatia does not score many runs and is averaging three errors a game.
Italy (1-1) vs Great Britain (2-0)
A must-win situation for Italy and a great opportunity for Great Britain to advance to the final round. With France atop the Pool B standings – and Spain still posing as a serious contender – the Italians will need a big-time performance from Riccardo DE SANTIS or Giovanni CARRARA on Monday or else? Ian YOUNG, Brant UST and Mike NICKEAS are carrying the offensive load for the British.