Croatia defeated Poland, 5-2 (box), on Saturday in Ashebourne, Ireland, to qualify for next year’s U18 European Championship. Sweden defeated Ukraine in Zurich two weeks ago to claim the other ticket to next year’s U18 tournament.
Trailing 2-1 to start the sixth and penultimate inning, Croatia benefitted from a pitching change that saw the tournament’s Best Pitcher, Michael Sosna, removed from the game.
The invigorated Croatian offense responded with a single and three consecutive bases on balls, the last of which scored a run, before an RBI single by Leo Andrijanic and Roko Skalko’s two RBI added to the Croatian lead.
Croatia’s victory on Saturday avenged its lone loss in group play, a 4-3 defeat to Poland.
Slovakia (1-2) finished third in Ashebourne, with the Irish hosts winless and in last place.
Sosna was named the tournament’s Best Pitcher after striking out 21 batters in 11 innings. He allowed just one run in his two appearances.
Croatia’s Bruno Spehar, who tallied 17 strikeouts in 13 innings, contributed with the bat as well, slashing .444/.615/.556 on his way to the MVP award.