Czechs Secure Spot
The Czech Republic faced off against the Germans for the final spot in the European/African Olympic Qualifiers. Despite the coin toss showing home field advantage to the Czechs, this was a loud, excited home crowd for the Germans.
The teams did not disappoint their audience. Germany hopped on the board early putting 2 up to start the 2ndwith a walk, double, single combination, aided by a wild pitch and failed pickoff from the Czechs.
In the bottom of the 3rd, the Czechs put up 3 runs after a walk and a single put men on for catcher Martin Cervenka’s homer to left. Germany tied it up in the top of the 6th. 2ndbaseman Marco Cardoso singled to short then advanced to 3rdon a wild pitch but he didn’t stick the landing. He injured his ankle on the slide but managed to recuperate in time to score the tying run on the next play.
Heading into the 8th inning things were still tied at 3. To start the bottom of the inning shortstop Martin Schneider hit the 2ndpitch Niklas Rimmel threw his way straight out over the centerfield wall to put Czech Baseball ahead by one to start the 9th.
Team Germany did their part to give the crowd what they wanted. Philip Schulz took the count full and was rewarded for his patience at the plate. Simon Geuhring, ahead in the count 3-1, bunted and beat the throw to the bag. Donald Lutz walked on a 4-0 count to load the bases with no outs.
With two strikes against him, Max Boldt hit a hot one up the alley just west of 2nd but, holding his man base, Czech shortstop Martin Schneider was perfectly placed. Making the grab on the fly Martin moved the ball to his throwing hand before emerging from the turn then aimed a gun at catcher Martin Cervenka. Cervenka hit home plate and fired the ball back to 3rdbaseman Petr Zyma to complete the double play.
Down to their last out with a runner left on 2nd, the wind was out of the sails of the German crowd who half-heartedly cheered their final batter, Luke Sommer. Sommer took the count to 1-2 before popping up to Schneider at short for the final out.
The Czechs will face Italy, The Netherlands, Spain and Israel, along with South Africa, next week in the Olympic Qualifiers being held in Italy. Whichever team emerges victorious from that event will represent Europe in the Tokyo2020 Olympic Games.