BRASSCHAAT, Belgium — A significantly condensed Federation Cup commenced in the northern stadium of Belgium’s twin baseball cities. A regular host of CEB events, the Brasschaat Braves were originally meant to host six teams in the third-tier tournament for European baseball clubs, but half of the field had to withdraw due to concerns with COVID-19. The two other clubs are Olimpija Karlovac and the Vienna Wanderers, and the winner will earn promotion to the CEB Cup, the penultimate stage for teams in the climb up the European baseball ladder.
The Braves have lost only a single time this year, winning their other 19 games, including 15 in-a-row. The northern Belgian club won the 2019 Belgian Cup and lost in the final in 2018, while the 2020 campaign cancelled. Karlovac is fresh off an absolutely dominant season in Croatian baseball, which had a surprise twist at the end when Nada Split won the first three games of the final series, ending Olimpija’s 10-game winning streak. The defending champions, however, won the next four games to claim the Croatian crown. Meanwhile, the Wanderers have won more than 60 percent of their games in the brutal Austrian Bundesliga East the last two years.
The 2021 Federation Cup field was reduced to just three teams due to concerns and restrictions tied to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As The Dutch Baseball Hangout reported, Sweden’s Sundbyberg Heat pulled out because of concerns about possible infection, while public-health restrictions would have made the participation of Moscow’s RusStar impossible. (The same restrictions kept Russian’s national team from competing at this year’s Prague Baseball Week.) Croatian runners-up Nada Split were forced to cancel after COVID-19 infections were reported in the squad.
On Day One, Karlovac bested Vienna 7-3 in the opener, before the Wanderers upended the hosts by a similar 7-4 margin.
Aug. 16: Karlovac 7 – Vienna 3
Aug. 16: Vienna 7 – Brasschaat 4
Aug. 17: Vienna – Karlovac
Aug. 17: Brasschaat – Karlovac
Aug. 18: Vienna – Karlovac
Aug. 18: Brasschaat – Vienna
Aug. 19: Karlovac – Vienna
Aug. 19: Brasschaat – Karlovac
Aug. 20: Karlovac – Brasschaat
Aug. 21: Brasschaat – Karlovac
Aug. 21: Vienna – Brasschaat
Box scores available here [link].
Graphic designed by the Brasschaat Braves.