While many of Europe's ball fields remain hidden beneath piles of snow, the action in the Meiterranean is heating up. In addition to several spring training games between Italy's teams and those from colder climates like Germany, the Liga D. De Honor in Spain has begun their regular season.
Over the weekend eight of the nine baseball teams and all the softball teams in the league paired up for a couple of games apiece.
In baseball Miralbueno took the by while Barcelona, Navarra and Sant Boi failed to capture victory. Pamplona and San Inazio split their set while Terenife, Valencia and Viladencas landed on the flip side of those 0-2 starts.
For the Terenife Marlins victory came early in the second game of their day. After a back-and-forth battle through 8.5 to beat Navarra in their opening game by the score 11-5, they were leaving it all on the field.
In the first inning of their second matchup against Beisbol Navarra, they jumped ahead 6-0 and never looked back. By the 2nd, they'd tacked on 3 more before giving their visitors a second to breath. Make no mistake, Navarra did not waste their wind. They took a few hacks of their own putting up 4 runs on their side of the board for the inning. The Marlins' remaining runs would come, one at a time over the 4th, 5th, 6th, with two more in the 7th, before closing out the line score in 7 with the final 14-4.
Flores, who played 3rd in the first game, remained in the 7-spot as DH in game 2. As in Game 1, where he went 4-5 with 4 RBIs and a triple, Flores was the big bat for the Marlins. He knocked in 4 off 2 hits while scoring on his 3-run homer in the 1st. First baseman Montiel, who hits cleanup did his job equally well. Over four plate appearances he had 2 runs off 3 hits and knocked in 3 for his troubles, with a double and a home run to his credit. Pitching for the Marlins, Jorge Balboa took home the win finishing 6.0 innings having given up 4 runs, 2 earned, while walking 3, hitting 1 and striking out 8.
The matchup between San Inazio and Pamplona finished with a line score that looked a lot more like BP than a game tally. By the end of 3, San Inazio was up 10-0. Pamplona made a move in the 4th, getting one around off two hits, but that would be their only lap of the day. San Inazio would go on to rack up 5 in the 5th and 4 more in the 6th before the umps called mercy on the day ending it for Pamplona's pen with a score of 19-1. Not surprisingly, it was the top of the order for San Inazio that did the most damage. With the 1-2 punches were Rivas and Fondin who went 4-4 with 3 runs and 3 RBIs including a homer, and 2-4 with 4 runs and 3 RBIs respectively. It appears all that swinging in the first game was enough to take it out of them in the end though because Pamplona came back to win the second game 4-1 to tie up the series.
Barcelona and Viladecans played their games split between Saturday and Sunday but the rest did nothing to help Barcelona's efforts. In their opening game the score was a solid volley between sides. Viladecans scored one in the 1st then Barcelona answered with two in the 2nd. Viladecans would put one more on the board in the 3rd and two more in the 4th but Barcelona was answering them run-for-run and, by the end of 6 they were all tied up at 4 apiece. In the bottom of the 8th Viladecans scored a run off a double to center. Despite each team putting 3 on the board in the 9th, that would be the run that made the difference in the game. Viladecans jumped ahead 8-7 for the win. The following day, for all the good it did them, Barcelona could just as easily have stayed on the bus and done equally as well. They lost 10-0 in 7. While Viladecans continued their small ball to victory quest, Barcelona just couldn't seem to play Marco to their Polo. On this day it was Miquel Luengo from the Viladecans’ bench who captured the win giving up no runs off 5 hits over 6.2 innings. He did hit a guy but gave up no walks while striking out 7.
For the Astros and Sant Boi the games were never truly close. The Astros took the first game handily with an 11-0 victory in 7. Their winning pitcher, Lowin A. Sacramento, pitched 5.0 innings giving up 1 hit and walking 6 while striking out 4. His closer, Ruben Hernandez went the remaining 2.0 innings walking 1 and giving up a hit while striking out 3 and losing one to a wild pitch. The big bat of this game was swung by 3rd baseman Tejeda who had 2 hits, both home runs, along with 2 runs and 4 RBIs. In their second game Sant Boi's bats came alive. They were on the board first and had scored 4 runs by the end of the 2nd inning. They would go on to score two more but the Astros, who had 5 in the 3rd and 6 in the 6th, were only behind by a run when their breakthrough innings began. They would finish the game ahead 14-6 in 9. It was catcher Diaz for Sant Boi that had the strongest bat in their run to glory with a 3-run homer in the 2nd.
In softball there were an even number of teams who did a much better job of sharing their victories than their baseball brethren. Six teams walked away with a win apiece while the San Sebastian Athletics and Fenix Valencia took home the spoils from their series with Bizkorrak and Sant Boi.
In their first game the Athletics and Bizkorrak remained scoreless through three before San Sebastian put up no less than a pair of runs in each of the next three innings to finish the game 7-0 in 6. Winning pitcher Ane Barandarian threw a complete game shutout going 6.0 innings striking out 10 while walking just 1 and giving up a single run throughout the game.
Their second meeting began much like the first with 3 scoreless innings to start off. It was Bizkorrak who broke through first this game however, scoring 2 in the 4th and 1 in the 5th, before the Athletics replied with 3 in the 6th, tying up the score and forcing extra innings. It remained so for 2 more innings before San Sebastian broke through for the win. They had runners on 2nd and 3rd when a throwing error by the 3rd baseman allowed an unearned run in the 9th for the win. The losing pitcher for Bizkorrak, Etxeberria, pitched the complete game giving up 4 runs, only 2 earned, off 7 hits while striking out 4. She contributed to the loss however, having given up 6 walks and throwing wild 3 times.
If you like action then the matchups between Fenix Valencia and Sant Boi would definitely have ranked high on your watch list. With final scores of 16-12 and 14-7 these were certainly not games that left much time for concessions runs. In fact, Valencia only went one inning in each game without scoring. Batting in the 5-spot, first baseman Suarez was the big swinger for Fenix. Over both games she had 9 at bats, where she scored 2 runs off 7 hits, including a double, while batting in 8. She did not strikeout or walk in either game.
The matchup between Rivas and Viladecans was one of the closest of the weekend. In their first game Rivas had one good inning where they jumped ahead by 4 to help the distance of the final score, 6-1, look much larger than the game itself played out. During their second game the teams showed their equilibrium finishing with a 5-4, extra innings victory for Viladecans. Both pitchers in the game, Alonso for Rivas and De La Paz for Viladecans, threw complete games, staying in for the extra inning. In the first game Rivas' starting pitcher Anybell Ramirez earned her win throwing the full game as well. She struck out 11 while walking just 2 and giving up only a single earned run.
In the split between Antorcha and Cambre the first game began with a volley. Both teams scored 2 in the 1st and none in the 2nd. From there, the scores went back and forth. Cambre added 2 in the 3rd and 4th while Antorcha remained scoreless in the 3rd only to add on 4 of their own in the 4th to tie it back up. They each took the 5th off offensively before Antorcha struck first in the bottom of the 6th. In reply, Cambre put down three of their own and let their starter, Sarayo Albani Ramil, close it out herself for the win. On Offense for Cambre, it was 1st baseman Otero who stood out at the plate. She had 4 RBIs off 3 hits including a double. During game two Antorcha decided to let their intentions come across clear from the start. After Cambre jumped on the board first with a run at the top of the 1st, Antorcha answered with 5 of their own to close out the inning. When Cambre came back with 2 more at the top of the 4th, Antorcha answered with 2 of their own at the bottom of the 5th. Cambre did manage one more run at the top of the 5th but it wouldn't be enough to overcome that early lead by Antorcha and the teams went home with a split on the day.
The final games of the weekend were between Dridma Rivas and Project Gava. Almost as if the days could handle no more action, with scores of 2-1 and 4-3, these were the lowest scoring events of the week. The real story however was, of course, the pitching. All four starters, Laia Garcia, and Alan Moncho for Gava and Alnara Navarro and Elisa Alonso for Dridma, pitched complete games giving up a total of just 27 hits, while striking out 13, between them.
Spain's season continues next week. To follow along with your favorite team's schedule from the Liga D. De Honor, or any other European nation, keep an eye on our Events page. For standings from this, and every league in the WBSC Europe, make sure to check out our Stats page every Monday.