Hungary scored five runs in the top of the first inning and never looked back against Slovakia, coasting to an 8-1 victory (box score) in the final of the European Championship qualifying group in Belgrade. With the victory, Hungary advances to next year’s playoff for the 2023 European Championship in Czechia, joining France and Switzerland, who topped their respective qualifying groups on Saturday.
Balint Piros got the offense rolling for Hungary in the first inning, with the leadoff hitter contributing the first of his four hits on the day. His teammates contributed five more hits, including two doubles, on the way to a big first inning.
The five runs were all start Hungary starter Sean Fekete needed, as he allowed just one run on five hits over eight inning. Fekete struck out 14 opposing batters and also added two hits and one RBI while batting cleanup.
Sunday’s championship game saw the teams meet for the second time in as many days, with Hungary also prevailing, 9-8 (box score), in a back-and-forth game on the final day of group play on Saturday.
Hungary is now scheduled to meet France and Switzerland in a playoff for the final two spots in the 2023 European Championship field. France went undefeated in the Bulgarian qualifying group, with Switzerland defeating Lithuania, 3-1, to book its ticket to the playoff tournament.