Two years ago this young Czech team inherited a legacy when five of their starters, nearly their entire infield – C, 1B, 2B, SS and CF - retired from the game along with their beloved head coach.
There can be no question that they understood the levity of the gift they received when this young team not only became title owners once again but they went undefeated in the 2021 Men’s Softball European Championship.
They finished the event 9-0, shutting out 7 of the 8 teams they faced. They didn’t just shut down their competitors, they mercy ruled them. The only team to go a complete game with the Czechs in the round robin were the Danes.
Denmark had two opportunities, in as many days, to take their shot at ending the Czech Republic’s streak. On Friday evening Denmark and The Czech Republic finished 6-5 with Denmark jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the 1st. In fact, heading into the bottom of the 5th, the Czechs were trailing the Danes 5-1. That’s when the Republic added 5 runs to take the lead and, ultimately, the victory.
The pair would face off once again in the gold medal game. The Czech Republic entered the game 8-0, Denmark 7-1. After a scoreless two innings, it was, once again, Denmark who took the early lead. Martin Simonsen was walked then advanced on a Frederik Terkelsen single. He grabbed 3rd on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball. Daniel Julenon doubled to left driving in Terkelsen.
The score went back to goose eggs through the next 2.5 innings. In the bottom of the 6th, as they had the night before, the Czechs decided it was time to get something started.
Milan Sulc singled up the middle to reach and was then driven in by Marek Maly. Maly, in turn, was driving in on a 3rd single by Tomas Klein. Patrik Kopecny reached on a fielding error then scored on a wild pitch and Klein moved up to 2nd. He then advanced to 3rd on a fielder’s choice. Two pitches later, Tomas crossed the plate on yet another wild pitch.
That was it. A bit of small ball and some heads-up base running and the Champions were crowned for the 5th consecutive time.
The Danes accepted their silver medals, happy to regain the position after dropping to bronze in 2018 following their silver medal placements in both 2016 and 2014.
While the Czech Republic dominate in the European market the question still remains how do they grow their game to become more competitive on the world stage?
In the 2019 Men’s World Softball Championship they made it as far as the playoff round but finished in 8th place, in a field of 16, with a record of 3-7. With their new title in-hand, they’ve earned their spot in 2022 for another shot at Top of the World.