The U18 European championship got underway in Macerata and Montegranaro, Italy, on Monday, with Germany’s 4-3 victory (box score) over the Czech Republic the highlight of Day One action. Germany strung together three hits with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to rally to victory, with a Lou Helmig two-run double setting off the German celebrations. The three other contests on Day One were lopsided affairs, with Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain winning their games by a combined score of 51-0.
Game One between the Germans and Czechs was a dramatic affair, with the Germans taking a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. This is where the score remained until the sixth inning when four straight walks by the German pitching staff and a wild pitch helped the Czechs take a 3-2 lead. And that is what it seemed the final result would be, with the Czechs needing just one more out to secure the victory in the seventh and final frame. Moritz van Bergen sparked the two-out rally with a single to right, Luca Hörger did the same, and Hörger’s Heidenheim Heideköpfe teammate did the rest, with Helmig driving a fastball to left-center to bring home van Bergen and his club teammate Hörger for the W.
Game Two saw the Netherlands defeat Israel 18-0 (box score), although the final result was skewed by the Dutch scoring 13 runs in the final frame. The Israeli squad, the first from the country to compete at this level, was competitive through six innings but then struggled to get the final three outs, with a series of walks and defensive miscues leading to easy runs for a talented Dutch team. Catcher Sem Kuijper hit the tournament’s first home run, and the Dutch pitching staff struck out 12 while scattering five hits.
Game Three saw a series of strong individual performances lead Spain to a 12-0 victory (box score) over Austria. Starting pitcher Junior Bonilla picked up the win after striking out 8 batters in just four innings of work, with 37 of his 50 pitches thrown for strikes, and Jesús Montaño impressed with the bat. The outfielder went 3-for-5, with all of his hits going for extra bases, including a first inning solo homer that gave the Spanish a 3-0 lead. Leadoff hitter Pablo Costalez went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, and Francisco Díaz, batting with the bases loaded in the seventh, contributed a bases-clearing triple to finish the scoring.
In Game Four, the hosts Italy defeated Lithuania 21-0 (box score) in just five innings under the floodlights, with the Italians collecting 16 hits, including three triples, on their way to victory. Two of those triples were hit by Samuele Bruno, with his teammate Francisco Moronta adding five RBI in a 2-for-3 effort at the plate. Shortstop Federico Ricci (2-for-5) and Tomasso Adorni both added three RBI, while starting pitcher Vincenzo Bruno (3.1IP, 1H, 1K) and reliever Edoardo Zingarelli (1.2IP, 5K) combined to limit the Lithuanians to just one hit.
In Day Two action on Tuesday, Israel and Lithuania will meet on the field at 10:00 (CEST), while Germany and Austria are scheduled to begin play at 15:00 (CEST). France starts against the hosts one hour later at 16:00 (CEST).
For complete standings and statistics and links to live streams, visit the WBSC Europe competition page.