1996 European Championship – B Pool

From BR Bullpen

The 1996 European Championship - B Pool was held in Hull, Great Britain from August 4 to August 11, 1996.

Host Flag of United Kingdom United Kingdom swept the pool. They were 44-13 in the first round but then eked out a 11-10 win over Lithuania (Brian Thurston driving in the winner in a comeback victory) and 6-5 over the Czech Republic to make it to the 1997 European Championship. Their team consisted of Alan Bloomfield (.409, 11 R, RB(), Joey Yarnold, Thurston, Simon Radge, Peter Arthur (.389, 7 R, 7 RBI), Neil Read, James Pearce, Josh Chetwynd (.412), Frank Parker Jr. (.429), Ray Brownlie (2-0, 1.69), Andy Maltby, Mark Vickers (.455), Alex Malihoudis, Darrin Ward (1-0, Sv, 0.00), David Donaldson, Lee Evans, Neil Egglestone, Gavin Marshall (1-0, 2.84), Billy Jenkins, Nick Carter, Martyn Dutton and Andy Wiltshire (1-0, 1.50). They were managed by Ralph Rago with coaches Barry Marshall, Gary Roberts and Gary Van Tol.

Flag of Czech Republic Czech Republic dominated their pool play in the first round with a 99-23 scoring differential in going 4-0. They then trounced Austria 16-6 in the semifinals to win a spot in the 1997 Euros, their first European Championship, before falling in the Gold Medal Game to the hosts, by one run. Their team included Vladislav Řehák, David Fiala, Milan Lichnovský, Roman Talda (who homered in the finale), Pavel Chadim, Jan Knobloch, Marek Rejman (the event home run leader), Pavel Budský (who would soon be the first Czech player to sign with a MLB team, the Kansas City Royals), Aleš Navrátil (who led in average), Robert Paul, Robert Roudný, Richard Prokop, Daniel Tyrz, Miroslav Víšek, Jiří Drha, Radek Hladký, Tomáš Přibyl (who led in runs and RBI), Josef Srbecký, Tomáš Svoboda, Michal Břeň, Martin Duda and Petr Goleš.

Flag of Lithuania Lithuania just missed out on a spot in the Euros with their near-win over Britain in the semifinals. They were 4-2 and took home the Bronze. Vitoldas Pocopko led the event in steals. Despite their close call, Lithuania still did not make it to a European Championship in the next 25 years even as three teams that finished behind them did qualify. They would just miss out in qualifiers in 2008, 2018 and 2019 as well.

Flag of Austria Austria was 4th, going 2-2 in pool play but losing in the semifinals and in the Bronze Medal Game. It would be 12 years before they qualified for a European Championship.

Flag of Slovakia Slovakia placed 5th, losing to Britain and Austria then beating Poland in a placement game. It would be 25 years before they qualified for the A Pool Euros. Ronald Kupka was named MVP and best defensive player.

Flag of Poland Poland was 6th, blowing out Norway and Finland and getting blown out by the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Slovakia.

Flag of Croatia Croatia finished 7th, going 2-2 in group play and beating Norway in a placement game. Damir Karin led the event in ERA. They would make their first European Championship only 3 years later, sooner than the four teams that finished immediately ahead of them in the standings. A British source lists the catcher as B. Nehadic, presumably Branko Nenadic.

Flag of Norway Norway was outscored 63-36 in going 1-3 in group play then lost to Croatia in the 7th/8th place game.

Flag of Republic of Ireland Republic of Ireland was 9th, outscored 77-18 in group play (0-4) then beating Serbia Montenegro in the 9th/10th place game.

Flag of Serbia and Montenegro Serbia and Montenegro was 0-5, outscored 95-6 in group play but nearly beating Ireland 8-6 in the last-place contest.