by Milan Zonic
Senior national team of Serbia won first International Baseball Challenge – tournament was held in Indiana, USA, from 17-22.July 2018. Four teams participated in this year tournament, and organizers expect it to become traditional annual summer event in future.
Four teams were part of IBC: Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia and college team Indiana Oilmen, on which stadium competition was held. Teams played round robin system and then semifinal and final games. In round robin team Indiana Oilmen (named North America for this tournament) was first, beating all European opponents, while Croatia was 2-1, Serbia 1-2 and Slovakia 0-3.
In first semi final North America beat Slovakia 2-0, and Serbia was better then Croatia 6-4. Finally in championship game Serbia upset favorites North America 12:5, to claim first place trophy, in front of packed Oilmen stadium.
Serbia, strengthened with 12 Serbian players from USA, won the tournament despite fact it had lower WBSC ranking (45.) of other European participants (Croatia 30., Slovakia 32.). Former minor league pitcher Adam Panajotovic lead Serbia in final game with a win. Serbian shortstop Conor Tomashic (Serbia) was named MVP.
IBC tournament is imagined by its USA organizers to promote European baseball lower-ranking countries playing promotional games in USA, as world leading baseball power and home of baseball.
Tournament promoters were Kenny Lofton – MLB All Star and baseball legend and Eli Grba former NY Yankees pitcher in early 70`s.