The spectators in the PEREZ DE ROZAS STADIUM saw a dramatic game between Germany and Croatia. The German team was highly favoured after two impressive victories over Sweden and Austria while Croatia was 0-2 going into this game.
The Croatian coach started out with lefty Ernesto PEREIRA and coach Gregory Frady (GER) also sent his southpaw Andre HUGHES to the mount. Croatia jumped ahead 2-0 in the 1st inning on a single by RAKIC that scored 2 runs. Germany got a run back in the 2nd and another one in the 4th to tie up the game but had big trouble with PEREIRA’s pitches.
In the 6th Inning PEREIRA started to loose a little of his sharpness & control and the German batters more often got solid wood on the baseball. Two runs in the 6th and two more in the 7th made it 6-2 for Germany. Andreas JANZEN and Robert GRUBER each had 2 RBI to lead the German offense.
Most of the spectators probably thought that this was it for the Croatian team. But in the 8th the Croatians started a huge comeback. After a hit by pitch and a basehit by CUSAK the German starter HUGHES left having pitched 7.1 innings. Frady brought in Eugen HEILMANN who was Germany’s closer during the last European Championships two years ago. HEILMANN had a terrible day and could not find the strike zone at all. He could only record one out and left after having given up a walk and two singles. Now it was Rodney GESSMANN’s job to try to shut the Croatians down but an throwing error by 1. Baseman Jens HEMYER (1B & 3B early steal) and another error by ShortStop JANZEN made it 7-6 for Croatia.
What a comeback! Six more outs to a huge win!
Croatian pitcher Danijell LEVAK started the bottom 8th for the Croatians and retired the first two German hitters. Then No. 3 hitter WULF singled with 2 outs followed by a walk by Simon GUEHRING. This brought 20 year old RF Kai GRONAUER up to bat who hit a triple to deep RF to score both runners. Germany was up again with 8-7.
Although Croatia (now 0-3) could not come back one more time in the ninth they have definitely played a fantastic game and showed aggressiveness and heart until the last out. Germany is now 3-0 and very close to making the final round.
Best players have been Jason POSPISHIL (3 for 4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 2B) for Croatia and German Robert GRUBER (2 for 3, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 2B). Rodney GESSMANN (W 1-0) who pitched the last out of the 8th and the complete 9th inning for Germany was also a key factor.