The first round at the European Championship ended on Tuesday with the last preliminary phase games. From Ostrava the Netherlands, Spain and Czech Republic already were qualified for the final round in Brno (September 18-21). Russia is going to play for seventh place in Blansko (September 18), while Croatia and Greece try to avoid relegation to the B-Pool in Trebic (September 18 & 19).
The fifth day of the first round started with a huge surprise. Greece, which had previously lost all four games, upset Croatia with a 10-0 shutout in seven innings. Panagiotis Sikaras issued just seven hits in seven scoreless innings. He struck out 13. Chris Christopoulos, hit a home run, scored four times and drove in two. Max Gouron also had two RBI. Slobodan Gales got charged with the loss.
In the afternoon Spain defeated the Czech Republic 9-2. Oscar Angulo went 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI. Jesus Golindano also went deep. Daniel Martinez doubled and drove in three. Ricardo Hernandez pitched 6 2/3 solid innings to pick up the win. Daniel Mraz surrendered eight hits, five runs (4 ER) and two walks in five frames to take the loss. Petr Zyma homered for the Czech team.
In the evening the Netherlands concluded the first round with a clean slate thanks to a 12-1 win over Russia. It was the first time that the Dutch team had to play more than seven innings in a game in the tournament. Curt Smith went 3-for-5 with two home runs, four runs scored and three RBI. Nick Urbanus also drove the ball over the fence, while collecting four RBI. Arshwin Asjes picked up the win in relief. Artem Kulik received the loss.
With the victory of Greece over Croatia and Russia’s loss to the Netherlands the first three mentioned teams were tied at 1-4 in the standings. With Russia beating Greece 14-1, Greece winning against Croatia 10-0 and Croatia prevailing over Russia 10-3, the TQB had to decide the ranking.
Russia had the best quotient and finished group-play in fourth place. The B-Pool winner from last year will avoid relegation and faces Belgium in the game for seventh place on Thursday in Blansko. Croatia and Greece concluded the first round in fifth and sixth place, having to battle against Sweden and Great Britain to avoid going down to the B-Pool.
Meanwhile the Netherlands will have a 2-0 record at the beginning of the final round, while Spain is at 1-1 and the Czech Republic at 0-2. Three round-robin games against Italy, France and Germany will determine ranks 3rd to 6th in the final standings, while the top two will advance to the final on Sunday.
Final Standings Group B:
1) Netherlands 5-0
2) Spain 4-1
3) Czech Republic 3-2
4) Russia 1-4*
5) Croatia 1-4*
6) Greece 1-4*
*Ranking based on TQB
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