A blog by John Dobkowski, pitcher for the Gauting Indians, who is participating with Poland at the European Championship Qualifier in Antwerp, Belgium.
I woke up excited to be in my first European Qualifiers, I couldn’t sleep well but I was still ready to go. We go out for a morning run and stretch, and then ate breakfast as a team. We proceeded back to our rooms to pack and get ready to head out to the field. We get to the field and do the normal baseball events before a game, battling practice, stretching and ShowTime. In Poland, they call infield outfield ShowTime, which I thought was pretty cool.
They announce the lineups after the grounds crew fix the field and everyone lines up by the line. There is no greater feeling then playing baseball for your country and hearing your national anthem being play. The highlights for Poland was Marek Deska who pitched 8 innings, gave up 2 earned runs and struck out 15. Gracjan Kraszewski was 3 for 5 with 2 RBI and Lukasz Nolbrazk came up clutch with the bases loaded with a single through the right side that produced two runs in and gave us the 4-2 lead in the 6th.
Slovakia came back in the 9th to take the game 10-5. It was a tough game to swallow when you can see the victory up ahead and then a detour hits you before you reach your goal. A well played match for both sides and it feel like a 12 round boxing match because the game felt like it was taking forever to finish and both sides battle till the end. I give credit to Slovakia for not giving up.
After the game we did some running and stretching to loosen up our bodies from the match and then head for dinner. I got a chance to get to know Marek Deska, he is Polish-Canadian and this wasn’t his first trip for Poland. He helped them win a game in 2008 against Slovenia. He played three years in the Dutch Head class for RCH Mediamonks. He currently lives in Toronto, Canada and is a high school science teacher. To stay in shape he plays for The Toronto Maple Leafs of the Inter-County Baseball League.
I also spoke to David Philips, The Head Coach of Slovakia; he is from Chicago and is a Hall of Fame 1B for Wheaton College in Illinois. One thing I learn about meeting people in European Baseball, everyone has an interesting story of where they are from and what they are doing. We stay to watch Belgium vs. Austria for a few inns then back to the hotel.