By Gabriel Fidler, Managing Editor.
BRNO, Czechia – Spain claimed its second European title with a complete performance in the final of the European Baseball Championship, overwhelming undefeated Great Britain, 11-2. The relentless Spanish offense delivered yet again, ripping five doubles in a five-run first, with Wander Encarnacion and Engel Beltre blasting a pair of two-run homers in the sixth. España last won the Euros in 1955 – when the Netherlands did not compete – and, since then, only once has a nation other than the Netherlands or Italy claimed the European title, as Belgium took the crown in 1967, a year in which neither the Dutch or Italians sent teams. Meanwhile, that year was the first time a British national team medalled, with the only other silver medal for Great Britain occurring in 2007.
The Spanish team began the game at a scorching pace, with Béltre leading off with a double and scoring on a one-out single from Edison Valerio. Jesus Ustariz followed with a run-scoring two-bagger and, after an out, back-to-back-to-back doubles by Daniel Jimenez, Encarnacion, and Gabriel Lino secured a five-run lead.
From that point, Spain cruised to the victory, with Nick Ward plating both of Britain’s runs, striking in response to the Iberian onslaught with a solo shot in the bottom of the first before walking and crossing home on a sacrifice fly in the fourth. In the sixth, Encarnación and Béltre went yard to add four runs, while Daniel Jiménez collected his fourth hit of the game with a two-run double in the ninth.
There have been a total of 37 European Baseball Championships, three of which did not feature the Netherlands (1954, 1955, 1967), the latter of which was also missing Italy. Spain’s only previous title came in one of those years, 1955, while the 1967 Euros — which was missing both the Netherlands and Italy — was the only other championship not claimed by the Dutch or Italians, that year won by Belgium.
Not only does this show how impressive Spain’s accomplishment is, it also underscores Great Britain’s sucess. Prior to the 2023 Euros, GB had earned two silver medals, most recently in 2007. The other, noteably, was the contracted 1967 competition.
Bronze Medal Game
Meanwhile, in the earlier game, the Netherlands came-from-behind to defeat Germany in the bronze medal game, with Dashenko Ricardo launching his second round-tripper in the tenth inning, plating the automatic runner for a 5-4 win. Ricardo had followed Juremi Profar had both left the park in the sixth, wiping out a 1-0 German advantage.
Shawn Larry immediately answered the Netherlands’ first rally with a solo shot in the top of the seventh, coming up the hero once again in the ninth, when he led off with a booming double. A pair of sacrifices — one of the bunting variety and another on the fly — then allowed Deutschland to tie up the game. An RBI- single by Yannic Walther scored Germany’s automatic runner in the top half of the tenth, but Germany left two runners on, just as it had in the fourth and eighth frames. A few pitches later, Ricardo made the most of the stranded runners to walk off the Netherlands.