Great Britain 12 Spain 8
Great Britain made the perfect start to their European Championship campaign as back-to-back home runs from Brant UST and Mike NICKES powered Team GB past host nation Spain.
UST went 4 for 5 with 5 RBI as Britain pounded out 13 hits in a see-saw battle between two nations hoping to advance from Pool B.
Britain began shakily with starting pitcher Brian ESSERYy coughing up two runs in the top of the first.
Struggling with his location, ESSERY walked the first batter he faced who came round to score, although the rangy right-hander settled down soon after.
Indeed Essery had the Spanish batters tied in knots, hurling four scoreless innings as Team GB broke out for a 4-2 lead.
Ian YOUNG put Britain on the board in the first with a bases-loaded walk, and in the bottom of the third UST, NICKEAS and YOUNG again all had run-scoring hits.
ESSERY appeared to have hit his wall in the sixth inning and was replaced by coach Stephan RAPAGLIA.
In came Stephen SPRAGG who had major location problems, hitting two batters and walking three over 2 1/3 innings which saw the lead swing back and forth.
After the hosts tied the game at 4 in the top of the sixth, Britain responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning.
With Tim COLLIN and Adam ROBERTS on base, shortstop Ust singled to left to score COLLINS, with ROBERTS scampering home after a wild pitch. YOUNG also singled to left scoring UST as Team GB padded their lead.
Spain, roared on by a boisterous home crowd of 1,500, refused to go down without a fight and tied the game again, 7-7, in the top of the seventh as Spragg’s woes continued.
Great Britain finally broke away in the bottom of the seventh with a four-run offensive blitz.
After ROBERTS had walked and Aeden MCQUEARY-ENNIS had singled UST crushed a pitch far beyond the right field fence for a crucial 3 run homer.
With the Spaniards reeling, next batter NiICKEAS also launched a round-tripper, just out of the reach of a despairing left-fielder.
Alex SMITH came on to shut down any potential Spanish revival, tossing 1 2/3 innings of 1 hit ball.
Britain added another score in the bottom of the eighth, COLLINS singling to left to score Brad MARCELINO.
Team GB will move onto their next group game against Russia on Sunday in confident mood, and will no doubt aim to maintain the hot-hitting displayed here.
by Simon Fitzjohn, GBR