BOGUSLAV, Ukraine — The Tenerife Marlins set multiple Federations Cup Qualifier records as it finished a dizzying dash past its opponents in Ukraine. Utena was the victim of the Spanish club’s fourth consecutive shutout, a one-hitter by Ernesto Piño and Eduardo Miliani that also meant that Marlins’ pitchers would conclude the tournament without issuing a walk. The Titans finished in second once the 22-0 frolic came to an end, though the Lithuanians made it to the final by surviving a plucky ATMA squad in a 10-7 victory earlier in the day.
Utenos 0 – Tenerife 22 (5)
Tenerife concluded a memorable tournament with its most dominant effort, following the same approach that had worked so well in the Federations Qualifier. Piño was sensational, utterly preventing any thoughts of a rally by Utena. The Marlins’ mashers dutifully ensured he could pitch freely, hanging crooked numbers through three innings.
After a six-run first, a dozen Tenerife batters scored in the second thanks to a porous–and clearly exhausted–Utena defence. The rubber-armed Eimantas Zickus finally ceded the hill with two outs in the second after 65 pitches and 14 runs in 1.2 frames. Of the latter total, however, only three scores were earned, with Lesther Galvan relishing the change of pitchers by crushing a grand slam. The Marlins’ third-sacker drove in five batters in the inning.
Four more runs would come around in the third and, given the 22-run cushion, Piño’s day came to a close as the game proceeded to the fourth. The results by the Titanai against him are worth repeating: K, K, K, K, K, K, K, reached on fielding error, K, K.
Although Tenerife would not score again, the game was clearly over and both sides rushed through the final inning and one-half. The no-hit bid finally came to an end with one out in the fifth. As will likely be no surprise, the base knock came from the bat of Zickus, who was stranded on first as Miliani breezed through the next two hitters.
Piño and Miliani struck out 11-of-17 Titans, while the Marlins went 15-for-29, slashing .517/.579/.862 as a team. Yancarlo Franco was a perfect 4-for-4 with two doubles, three runs, and three ribbies as Tenerife raised its tournament batting line to an absurd .482/.572/.763.
Jesús Montaño concluded a scorching tournament with a brace of two-baggers among his three hits, scoring three runs, and driving in four. The leftfielder-cum-pitcher was an easy choice for MVP thanks to the Game One shutout and a 7-for-9 line at the plate that came with two doubles, seven runs, 11 RBI, and no strikeouts.
Although no official records are kept by CEB and, indeed, some results appear to have been lost, the Marlins almost certainly set three all-time marks for a Federations Cup Qualifier: Fewest runs conceded (0), fewest walks conceded (0), and fewest hits conceded (0),
The win secures a spot for the Spanish Baseball League in next year’s Federations Cup, a level to which Iberian clubs are well-accustomed. There is a very good chance that Tenerife will be the club contesting the event, with the possibility of a title a reasonable one.
Utenos 10 – ATMA 7
Earlier in the day, Utena tangled with the host club with a place in the final on the line. The Titans’ Dalius Neliupsis matched zeroes with the hosts’ Sergii Kovalenko through three, before Utena scraped together a run in the fourth. ATMA would answer with a pair in the fifth and the clubs would reverse the totals in the next frame to knot the score at 3-3 through six.
Utena jumped on a crucial error by the home side in the seventh to score four runs, knocking Kovalenko out of the game. The southpaw was exceptionally frugal with his pitches in his 7.2 frames, using only 75 bullets, allowing four earned runs on 12 hits and two walks.
The home team would reclaim one run in the bottom of the inning, but further defensive miscues allowed the Titanai to plate three in the frame. With Neliupsis out of the game after 6.1 solid innings (7H, 4R, 1ER, 2BB, 2K), ATMA finally broke through against the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth, seizing the free passes offered and sending three baserunners home by the time the first two outs were in the book.
Having watched six ATMA hitters jog to first, Zickus–also Utena’s manager–took his own slow trot from centerfield. Having not touched a ball in play all game, Zickus warmed up with the tying run in plain sight and the toed the rubber. This time, the manager was right, as three strikes later the Titans celebrated their second win after the KO from Zickus.
The celebration would, of course, be short-lived, but the gutsy effort by the Lithuanians certainly proved their mettle. Domantas Trinkunas was an eye-popping five-for-five with five ribbies, one of his hits falling for two bases. Zickus had another excellent game, notching a triple, two singles, and a stolen base. Dmytro Levchuk was 3-for-4 with a double for ATMA, while Andrii Horishniakov, Yevhenii Tkachenko, and Raidel Arbelai all had a brace of hits.
Best Average: Jesús Ustariz (Tenerife)
Best ERA: Leslie Nacar (Tenerife)
MVP: Jesús Montaño (Tenerife)