So near and yet so far: Great Britain lost their fourth straight game in the Baseball World Cup today, taking a 5-4 loss against Puerto Rico in Haarlem. However, they once again performed with distinction against a leading baseball nation. British fans dared to dream of a memorable victory when their team hit four runs in the fourth inning to take a 4-2 lead.
Those hopes were immediately dented when Puerto Rico levelled the score in the bottom half of the frame and Britain were unable to stage a second comeback after their opponents regained the lead in the following inning.
Much as we would all love to see Team GB get a win, it’s difficult to feel too disheartened by the outcome. This group of players are competing against teams of greater quality than they’ve ever faced before. They have taken some knocks along the way, and may continue to do so, but they remain unbowed and determined to keep on fighting to the end. You can’t ask for any more than that.
No one epitomises that spirit better than GB’s starting pitcher against Puerto Rico: Alex Smith. He was crushed in his last outing by Nicaragua in the first round. Morales, Mayorga and the rest put him to the sword, mercilessly clubbing him for seven runs in 1.1 innings. Returning against Puerto Rico must have felt like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, but he pitched a composed game. Although he conceded ten hits, Smith didn’t let any moment phase him and his eight inning effort, during which only three of the five runs he gave up were earned, kept his team in the game from beginning to end. That’s the starting pitcher’s brief and he did his job well.
The batters couldn’t quite provide the run support necessary to make a winner out of Smith, but there were good performances to celebrate in any case. Sam Wiley continued his impressive tournament with a 3-for-4 day, Chris Berset and Evan Romanchuk got two hits apiece and Aeden McQueary drove in two runs. Their efforts helped to make the game close and that’s an achievement in itself at this level of play.
Great Britain can take some confidence from the game into their next contest tomorrow, which promises to be a fantastic event. They will be playing against the Netherlands in front of a passionate orange crowd in Rotterdam, with first pitch set for 18.00 BST (19.00 local time). The Neptunus Family Stadium is a great place to watch a ballgame, as Joe and I found on our visit back in July, and I’m more than a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to make it out there. If you are lucky enough to be at the game, I hope you have an enjoyable evening.
The Netherlands are the leading baseball nation in Europe so it will be another difficult game, but maybe this Great Britain team can spring a surprise? It doesn’t look the game will be on Eurosport2, but you should be able to follow it via the GameTracker.
Further reading: Game report from the Great Britain baseball team site.