Great Britain suffered a heavy 10-0 defeat to Nicaragua today in the Baseball World Cup. The game was ended in the seventh inning on the ‘mercy killing’ rule when a solo home run by Sandor Mayorga, his second round-tripper of the game, moved his team ahead by the necessary ten runs.
The defeat was Great Britain’s second in two days after they lost 9-7 to Japan in their tournament opener. They will now enter tomorrow’s final first round game against the hosts Croatia needing a win and a bit of luck if they are to qualify for the second round as one of the best third-placed finishers and avoid an early exit from the event.
GB’s head coach Stephan Rapaglia made three changes to the lineup that ran Japan so close the day before. Tim Colllins was replaced at second base by yesterday’s starting pitcher Sam Whitehead, while Jason Holowaty was the other position player to miss out. Evan Romanchuk came into the lineup at first base, with Aeden McQueary moving to Holowaty’s DH slot after making a couple of errors at first against Japan.
Alex Smith, a key member of the British team that won the silver medal in the 2007 European Championships, toed the rubber and got off to the worst possible start. After making the lead-off hitter Mario Barrios pop up to Whitehead, he gave up three solo home runs in a nightmare first inning. Edgard Espinoza, Jimmy Morales and Danilo Sotelo did the damage and a fourth run almost scored as well. Estaban Garcia reached base on a throwing error by Brant Ust and then made it to second on a passed ball. A single by Sandor Mayorga tempted Garcia to test the British fielders yet again, only for them to respond well with the centre fielder Alex Malihoudis gunning him down at the plate.
It was a moment of temporary relief as things went from bad to worse in the second inning. After Wiley, Berset and Romanchuk had gone down in order for Great Britain, the Nicaraguan hitters continued to have success against Smith. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Jimmy Morales. Smith made a mistake, Morales didn’t. He deposited the ball over the right-field wall for a grand slam, his second homer in two at-bats, and when Smith walked the next batter, Rapaglia was left with no choice but to take his starting pitcher out of the game. A pitching line of 1.1 innings pitched, seven earned runs conceded on four home runs tells its own story.
An early deficit, even of the 7-0 variety, can always be overturned and Great Britain showed against Japan that they had the fighting qualities to give it a shot. Unfortunately the hole they were in quickly became deeper.
The home run barrage continued in the fourth inning with Mayorga taking Brook Coatsworth deep for a two-run blast to make it 9-0. McQueary moved to the mound after Coatsworth had intentionally walked Morales to load the bases and the former DH, who pitched successfully for the Dutch Major League team ADO during the 2009 regular season, struck out Justo Granera to end the inning.
McQueary held Nicaragua scoreless over the next three innings to stem the flow of runs, but the British batters were unable to make any inroads into the 9-0 deficit.
Diego Sandino pitched an excellent game for Nicaragua, striking out three and allowing only two hits over six innings. Bieman Reyes came on in relief and pitched a scoreless seventh inning, giving up just a single to Sam Wiley for the right fielder’s second hit of the game. Wiley’s 2-for-3 showing was a rare bright spot on the day for Britain and he has now gone 5-for-7 in the first two games combined.
Trailing 9-0, Great Britain headed on to the field for the bottom of the seventh inning knowing that a run would bring an early end to the game. Mayorga wasted little time in delivering the final crushing blow, smashing the second pitch he saw over the centre-field wall for a walk-off home run. It was the sixth long ball of the contest for Nicaragua and put an exclamation point on a comprehensive defeat for Great Britain.
Such a brutal loss for Great Britain leaves Rapaglia with the difficult task of lifting his team for the final game, but there is still all to play for. Croatia lost 10-1 to Nicaragua yesterday, emphasising the point that the latter are a strong side and one in which we can feel no shame in losing to. Even if Croatia can defy the odds and beat Japan later today, a win for Great Britain tomorrow over the host nation would put the two teams level with 1-2 records and Britain’s head-to-head win would move them up to third-place in the final standings.
Whether that will be enough for GB to qualify for the second round depends on how the other first round groups finish. However, that’s a long way off as yet. Great Britain firstly have to lick their wounds and bounce back with a victory over Croatia tomorrow, first pitch set for 15.30 BST.
Great Britain-Nicaragua: Official Box Score and Play-by-Play.