This weekend the European Champions Cup Final Four takes place in Barcelona, Spain to crown the European Club champion 2009. Defending champion DANESI NETTUNO, FORTITUDO BOLOGNA, L&D AMSTERDAM and CORENDON KINHEIM will battle at the ballpark of the FC BARCELONA in Montjuic for the elusive trophy. The two semi-finals on Saturday will be streamed live on the Baseball World Cup website www.2009baseballworldcup.com. The final on Sunday will be broadcast by Eurosport2 and be shown on Monday in primetime.
Unfortunately the Spanish Baseball and Softball Federation didn’t rescheduled the important doubleheader between BARCELONA and TENERIFE MARLINS, which will be played on Saturday, but simply relocated it to Viladecans. Additionally they will start the final series of the national softball championship between CS VILADECANS and CBS ANTORCHA on Sunday morning. All three are important events, though you have to wonder how many people will find their way to Montjuic for the European Champions Cup Final Four.
Saturday, June 20
12:00 CET L&D Amsterdam Pirates – Fortitudo Bologna
19:00 CET Danesi Caffe’ Nettuno – Corendon Kinheim
(live streams on www.2009baseballworldcup.com)
Sunday, June 21
11:00 Bronze Medal Match
(Eurosport2: Monday, June 22, 20:15 CET; Friday, June 26, 15:00 CET; Sunday, June 27, 13:45 CET)
Danesi Nettuno (Italy)
NETTUNO finished second in the European Cup at their home ballpark in Nettuno, Italy back in April to qualify for the European Champions Cup Final Four. They are currently in fourth place in the Italian Baseball League with a 17-13 record, but also the defending champion, having won the inaugural tournament in September 2008 thanks to a 3-2 win in the finals over T&A SAN MARINO. As usual in European Cup tournaments the Italian teams have to choose between their foreign players, as regulations limit them to three players not born in Italy on the final roster. Starting pitcher Jeff Farnsworth, shortstop Manny Alexander and center fielder Juan Camilo will take these spots according to Ricardo Schiroli’s report on FIBS.it. Besides Farnsworth (3-3, ERA 3.38), Carlos Richetti (4-2, ERA 2.49) will be a starter, though it is not clear, who gets the nod in game one.
Fortitudo Bologna (Italy)
BOLOGNA clinched the berth for Barcelona by winning all three games at the European Cup in Matino. They are in second place in the IBL behind TELEMARKET RIMINI with a 20-10 record. FORTITUDO will decide on their three foreign players on Thursday evening after the last practice before the trip to Catalonia. However it seems clear that Richard Austin will not go. Two of the three spots should go to Jesus Matos (6-3, ERA 2.25) and Eddy Garabito. For the third spot they consider the pitchers Yulman Ribeiro (6-2, ERA 2.77) and Victor Moreno (ERA 0.75, 12 IP, 26 SO, 6 BB). The latter could close both games. Ribeiro could start one of the two matches. If Ribeiro is not on the roster, Fabio Betto (3-3, ERA 4.84) most likely would get the second starting assignment besides Matos. UPDATE Friday evening: Matos, Moreno and Ribeiro take the three foreign spots. Garabito is ill (flu) and can not play.
L&D Amsterdam Pirates (Netherlands)
AMSTERDAM not only finished first in last year’s Mister Baseball European Top 50 and the championship in the Dutch Hoofdklasse, but also in the European Cup in Nettuno, edging out the host with a 4-0 shutout. In difference to the Italian clubs the Dutch teams don’t have to choose between their foreign players as they usually don’t have that much on their roster anyway. Fausto Alvarez, Kenny Berkenbosch and Sidney de Jong led the PIRATES, which are 22-8 in the Hoofdklasse this year, and they are batting .324 with a slugging percentage of .419 this season. Additionally they have a nice pitching staff anchored by the Australian former Boston Red Sox prospect Adam Blackley (5-2, ERA 1.74). Head coach Rikkert Fanyete will select Jos de Jong (3-3, ERA 3.47) or Nick Stuifbergen (5-1, ERA 3.75) to start the second game.
Corendon Kinheim (Netherlands)
After losing the Dutch title in three games to AMSTERDAM, KINHEIM also started into the 2009 season not so well, but since then recovered and climbed the ladder back into the top four. They have won 19 of their first 30 games and qualified for the Final Four due to two wins in three games at the Matino-European-Cup, losing 2-6 against BOLOGNA. CORENDON with Dirk van’t Klooster, Bryan Engelhardt and Danny Rombley is batting .283 this year with a slugging percentage of .383. American shortstop Josh Renick wasn’t the hoped strong reinforcement so far. David Bergman (5-4, ERA 2.24), who nearly pitched a perfect game recently, leads the pitching staff. Patrick Beljaards (6-0, ERA 1.66) or Duko Jansen (5-2, ERA 3.10) will be the second starter.