In the opening game of the European Championship Spain and Croatia faced off in Bonn. If this game is an indication of what we have to look forward to this week, it will be a nail-biting tournament for fans.
Each team had a run in the 1st. It took two more innings before Croatia jumped ahead by a run. There were four more innings of goose eggs before Spain tied it up and added one for good measure to start the 8th. Then, the rain decided it was time to play. That delay seemed to be enough to cool off bats for both sides and the game, when resumed, ended where it had been frozen in time.
Both starting pitchers lasted through 7 innings of work. Jorge Balboa gave up 6 hits and an earned run while striking out 9 for Spain. Marin Tadic gave up 2 earned runs off 7 hits. The game was decided before either team’s pen took the ball.
Offensively Spain shared the work. Both Lesther Galvan and Fernando Martinez had two hits, a double and an RBI on the day. At the plate for Croatia Stuttgart Reds rightfielder Andrija Tommic had a strong bat. Each time he stepped into the box you could see his mind’s eye registering every pitch. For his effort Croatia’s offensive line includes an RBI double.
Spain’s defense seemed to be playing lazy ball, rarely making the effort expected of a team playing for a chance at an Olympic spot. Croatia’s guys were playing like a team who has run through their drills 24/7 together for the last month.
One outstanding defensive play we have to mention is the 7thinning grab by Croatia’s leftfielder Fran Stancic. Positioned close to the foul pole, he managed to grab a hot shot that came in close to the dividing line between he and his centerfielder’s territory.
Though the W ultimately went to Spain this morning, they are currently playing with too much swag for their swing. Only time will tell if that catches up to them. For a small country with not a lot of baseball opportunities, Croatia showed up ready. If they don’t advance it won’t be because they got outplayed.