Great Britain started off their European Championship campaign in style today with a 10-1 win over Croatia in the TVC Stadium, Stuttgart.Â
Spainâ€™s recent success in the FIFA World Cup showed that a team can recover from a disappointing opening game, but every team hopes to get that first win under their belt as soon as possible and to set a positive tone for the rest of the tournament.
Thatâ€™s exactly what Team GB did today, not only by winning their first game but by putting up six runs in the top of the first inning.Â
Admittedly they were helped by a nervous start from their opponents, with Croatia committing two errors in the field, catcher Benjamin Goldstrom allowing a passed ball and starting pitcher Michael Lennox throwing two wild pitches all in the first frame.Â However, Great Britain will rightfully argue that it was their patience at the plate and positive approach that put the pressure on their opponents and allowed them to capitalize on the subsequent mistakes.
There can be no better start to a pitcherâ€™s day than seeing his teammates racking up a six-run cushion before he even takes the mound.Â Alex Smith had that good fortune today and he wasnâ€™t going to let that run support go to waste.Â Smith pitched seven strong innings, allowing only three hits and one run while striking out four and giving up one walk.Â Stephen Spragg and Jeff Mottl picked up from where Smith left off, each pitching a scoreless inning and facing the minimum three batters, in Spraggâ€™s case with a double-play taking care of a walked batter in the eighth.
Michael Johnson, a Great Britain Cadet graduate and former Burgess Hill and Bracknell baseball club member, drove in four runs, while Evan Romanchuk went 3-for-5 with a solo home run to lead off the sixth inning.Â Former Manchester Baseball Club player Rich Klijn also went 3-for-5 and the Bracknell Blazersâ€™ Michael Trask hit a single to centre field in the eighth inning to get that all-important first tournament hit out of the way.
It all amounted to a great start by Pat Doyleâ€™s men, but thereâ€™s still a lot of hard work to be done if Great Britain are to qualify for the second round.Â That work continues tomorrow with a game against Sweden, who lost 12-9 against Greece in Heidenheim today.