2019 Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier
The 2019 Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier determined one team for the 2020 Olympics. The second-place finisher kept some hope, as they moved on to the 2020 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament. The 2019 African Championship winner ( South Africa) squared off with the top five teams from the 2019 European Championship ( Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Israel and Czech Republic). Israel emerged victorious while the Netherlands advanced to the 2020 Final Olympic Qualifier.
|Win: Yntema (1-0) Loss: Satoria (0-1) Save: Kelly (1)|
The Netherlands avenged their only loss from the 2019 European Championship despite getting outhit. In the bottom of the 1st, 2B Calten Daal singled. An error on a pick-off attempt by Ondřej Satoria let Daal go to third, then CF Roger Bernadina grounded him home. Czechia tied it in the 4th with their only run in eight innings. C Martin Červenka and DH Jakub Malík singled, then 1B Petr Čech hit into a force at second. LF Martin Mužík singled in Červenka and 3B Martin Červinka had their fourth single of the inning but RF Arnošt Dubový grounded into a double play.
In the bottom of the 4th, LF Ademar Rifaela gave the Netherlands the lead for good with a solo shot, keeping up his power display from the 2019 Euros. In the 5th, they got insurance; C Hendrik Clementina doubled, DH Dwayne Kemp singled, SS John Polonius grounded into a fielder's choice at home, Daal laid down a sacrifice and Bernadina doubled in Kemp and Polonius for a 3-RBI day.
|Win: Wagman (1-0) Loss: Sierra (0-1)|
Israel also avenged a loss from the European Championship, having fallen to Spain 3 days earlier in the Bronze Medal Game. This time, Joey Wagman dazzled with a three-hit, no-walk shutout, fanning eight. Israel got all the runs it needed in the first. With one out, CF Blake Gailen drew a walk from Carlos Sierra and DH Danny Valencia homered to deep left. Sierra allowed only one hit from the 2nd through the 4th. In the 5th, though, Israel got three straight one-out singles from 3B Zach Penprase, 2B Mitch Glasser and Gailen. Daniel Álvarez relieved but Valencia greeted him with a sacrifice fly for some insurance.
- South Africa-Italy postponed due to rain in the 6th at 4-4
|Win: Hernández (1-0) Loss: Elario (0-1)|
This game featured two international veterans on the hill, Ricardo Hernández for Spain and Jared Elario for South Africa. The African champs struck first, getting to Hernández in the 2nd. RF Brandon Bouillon hit into an error by SS Jhonny Bethencourt and 1B Hein Robb singled. With one out, LF Rowan Ebersohn grounded into a force at second. 2B Brett Willemburg singled in Bouillon. CF Benjamin Smith drew a walk to load the bags but SS Anthony Phillips struck out to end the threat.
Elario shut out Spain for 3 innings. In the bottom of the 4th, things unraveled. 2B Oscar Angulo singled. 1B Jesús Ustariz singled, but was thrown out trying for two, Angulo moving to third. LF Lesther Galván tied it with a single to left. DH Fernando Martínez singled as well and RF Yancarlo Franco walked. C Blake Ochoa hit a grand slam to make it 5-1. Spain got some insurance in the 7th and 8th against Derek Bayliss. In the 7th, 3B Leomartires Rodriguez doubled, CF Engel Beltre singled and after an out, Angulo hit a sacrifice fly. In the 8th, Galván went yard.
|Win: Bleich (1-0) Loss: Markwell (0-1)|
The theme of avenging losses in the European Championship continued. Israel got all the offense it would need in the first, when DH Danny Valencia drew a two-out walk from Diegomar Markwell and C Nick Rickles homered. In the top of the second, the Orange tied it when C Hendrik Clementina doubled off Jon Moscot and RF Kalian Sams doubled him in. The Israelis stormed back in the bottom of the frame, though. LF Rob Paller and 1B Benjamin Wanger both walked and RF Simon Rosenbaum bunted them over. 3B Zach Penprase singled to load the bases, then 2B Mitch Glasser doubled in everyone for a 5-1 edge. After CF Blake Gailen walked, Markwell was yanked. Tom de Blok relieved and Valencia doubled in Glasser, but Gailen was thrown out trying to score.
In the bottom of the 5th, Israel made it 7-1. Gailen hit into an error by 2B Calten Daal and Valencia and Rickles both singled. With one out, Paller singled in Gailen but Valencia was out at home. In the bottom of the 8th, they got a final run off Tom Stuifbergen. Paller doubled and took third on a fly out by Wanger. After Rosenbaum walked, Penprase hit a sacrifice fly.
|Win: Palumbo (1-0) Loss: Chroust (0-1)|
The hosts get the win, the victorious team having allowed one run in all three games today. The Czechs got ahead in the first when SS Martin Schneider doubled and advanced on grounders by CF Matěj Hejma and C Martin Červenka. While they got nine more hits, they would not score again against Angelo Palumbo, Nick Pugliese and Filippo Crepaldi. Italy tied it in the bottom of the first when 3B Drew Maggi singled off Radim Chroust, 2B Alessandro Vaglio got plunked, Maggi stole third and 1B Chris Colabello's fly scored Maggi.
In the 3rd, Italy went ahead for good with the same three hitters producing the offense - Maggi walked, Vaglio was hit again and Colabello hit a 3-run homer. In the bottom of the 5th, Maggi and Vaglio again started it off, with singles. Petr Minařík relieved Chroust and got Colabello to hit into a double play. DH Giuseppe Mazzanti singled in Maggi with his third run of the day.
|Win: Bocchi (1-0) Loss: Erasmus (0-1)|
The hosts survive a scare from South Africa. In the action that began two days prior, South Africa jumped on Alessandro Maestri from the get-go. SS Anthony Phillips, C Kyle Botha and 3B Jonathan Phillips hit three straight singles in the first. With two outs, Maestri hit RF Brandon Bouillon and 1B Hein Robb singled in two runs. Italy came back in the 2nd off Dylan Unsworth. DH Giuseppe Mazzanti, C Alberto Mineo, 2B Alessandro Vaglio, SS Gavin Cecchini and CF Federico Celli hit five singles in a row with one out to make it 3-2. RF John Andreoli hit into a run-scoring force to tie it.
In the bottom of the second, CF Benjamin Smith drew a walk from Maestri, advanced on a grounder and scored on a two-out single by Jonathan Phillips to make it 4-3. Five Italian relievers (Michael Johnson, Andrea Pizziconi, Yomel Rivera, Matteo Bocchi and Filippo Crepaldi) would shut out South Africa over the last 7 innings, though, allowing 3 hits and no walks. Italy came alongside in the 4th when Mineo took Unsworth deep. That is where things stood when the rains fell on Wednesday to suspend the game in the 6th.
When action resumed today, neither team scored for the first few innings. In the top of the 10th, though, Italy erupted. With two runners starting aboard due to the Schiller Rule, Colabello singled off Bradley Erasmus to score LF Sebastiano Poma. Mazzanti's sacrifice fly brought in 3B Drew Maggi to make it 6-4. After Mineo grounded Colabello over, Vaglio and Cecchini both singled for a 7-4 lead. Celli then swatted a three-run blast to deep center field for extra padding. Filippo Crepaldi needed only four pitches to end it, getting LF Rowan Ebersohn to hit into a game-ending triple play.
|Win: Bokaj (1-0) Loss: Lewis-Walker (0-1)|
Czechia got its first win in resounding fashion. Boris Bokaj allowed only one run in seven innings, coming in the 2nd when 2B Brett Willemburg, DH Rowan Ebersohn and CF Andrew Norman hit three consecutive singles into center field. Robert Lewis-Walker contained the Europeans for the first three innings but they struck back in the bottom of the 4th. C Petr Čech doubled with one out and LF Martin Mužík walked. RF Jakub Malík flew out and both runners advanced. 1B Daniel Vavruša doubled to left to put the Czechs ahead.
Kevin Townend took over for Lewis-Walker in the 5th and SS Martin Schneider drew a walk from him. CF Matěj Hejma hit into an error by 3B Jonathan Phillips and DH Martin Červenka got plunked, loading the bases for cleanup man Čech. Čech singled in Schneider and Mužík followed with a two-run single. A wild pitch made it 6-1.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Czechs made it a mercy rule rout. 2B Jakub Hajtmar singled off Dean Jacobs. With one out, Hejma and PH Tomáš Juněc both walked. A wild pitch scored one run then Čech walked as well. Mužík hit a grand slam to make it a 6-RBI day and end it early.
|Win: de Marte (1-0) Loss: Luis Lugo (0-1)|
The two unbeaten teams squared off and Israel almost clinched the Olympic spot, going to 3-0 with games remaining against the bottom two teams. They took advantage of a late Italian defensive collapse to topple the hosts. Luis Lugo faced one more than the minimum through three. In the 4th, though, DH Danny Valencia drew a one-out walk and C Nick Rickles homered.
Italy challenged Gabe Cramer often, with five baserunners in 3 2/3 IP, but failed to score, before Zack Weiss relieved. In the bottom of the 5th, LF Sebastiano Poma and 2B Drew Maggi walked and 1B Chris Colabello hit a two-run single with one out to tie it for the home fans. Colabello's day would end in the 7th, though, after he was hit by a Jonathan de Marte pitch.
It was still 2-2 entering the 8th. Lugo hit 1B Benjamin Wanger. Switch-pitcher and MLB veteran Pat Venditte relieved Lugo and big RF Simon Rosenbaum bunted Wanger over. Venditte threw a wild pitch then walked 3B Zach Penprase, the #9 hitter. 2B Mitch Glasser tried a squeeze bunt and an error on the play by 1B Giuseppe Mazzanti (replacing Colabello) made it 3-2. CF Blake Gailen flew out and the inning would have been over for not for the error. Valencia then hit into another error, by SS Gavin Cecchini. Rickles took advantage of the reprieve with a two-run single for a 4-RBI day. Venditte plunked LF Rob Paller. Michael Johnson succeeded Venditte and SS Ty Kelly greeted him with a RBI single. Wanger singled in two more to make it 8-2.
|Win: Cordemans (1-0) Loss: Sacramento (0-1) Save: Sulbaran (1)|
The Netherlands bounced back from their loss, easily handling Lowuin Sacramento, who had done a great job against them in the 2019 European Championship. 44-year-old Rob Cordemans, arguably the greatest Hoofdklasse pitcher ever, stymied the Spanish bats in the meantime.
The Netherlands got going in the 2nd. Sacramento hit C Hendrik Clementina and 3B Sharlon Schoop hit a one-out single. 39-year-old 1B Yurendell de Caster delivered a two-run double as the former big leaguer showed he could still swing. With two outs, SS John Polonius singled and an error on the play by 3B Leomartires Rodriguez made it 3-0.
Cordemans had allowed one hit through four. In the 5th, LF Lesther Galván and DH Fernando Martínez singled and a sacrifice fly by Rodriguez made it a two-run game. In the 7th, the Netherlands got the run back against Andrés Pérez. 2B Calten Daal singled with one out and stole before Curt Smith pinch-ran (Daal presumably being injured on the steal), CF Roger Bernadina walked, LF Ademar Rifaela was intentionally walked and Clementina singled in Smith.
In the 8th, de Caster and DH Dwayne Kemp singled off Leslie Nacar. Polonius bunted them over then Smith (who had stayed in at 1B, de Caster moving to 3B and Schoop to 2B) singled in de Caster. Lars Huijer had relieved Cordemans in the 6th and turned in three shutout innings. In the 9th, he faded. 2B Oscar Angulo hit into an error by Schoop and 1B Jesús Ustariz singled. Huijer got Galván looking but former major leaguer Martínez doubled to make it 6-2. Juan Carlos Sulbaran relieved and struck out PH Javier Monzón and got PH Edison Valerio to fly out to end it.
|Win: Bolsenbroek (1-0) Loss: Jacobs (0-1)|
The Netherlands remained in the running. CF Roger Bernadina drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the first, RF Kalian Sams drew a two-out walk and DH Sicnarf Loopstok singled in Bernadina. 1B Yurendell de Caster singled as well to bring home Sams. In the 2nd, Donny Breek ran into control problems, walking 1B Hein Robb and 2B Brett Willemburg and hitting DH Rowan Ebersohn. After a whiff, CF Benjamin Smith's sacrifice fly scored Robb. Mike Bolsenbroek, Shurendy Valeriano and Shairon Martis allowed only one more hit over the next seven, to 2B Darren Boltman.
In the bottom of the 3rd, Bernadina singled off Jacobs and moved to third on a pick-off error by Jacobs. LF Ademar Rifaela's sacrifice fly broguth in Bernadina. Sams walked. Bradley Erasmus relieved and Loopstok greeted him with a single. De Caster hit into a run-scoring force to make it 4-1 and 2B Sharlon Schoop hit a two-run bomb. In the 4th, 3B Dwayne Kemp singled off Kevin Townend, Bernadina grounded him over and Rifaela hit into an error by SS Anthony Phillips to bring in the game's last run.
|Win: Álvarez (1-0) Loss: Gouvea (0-1) Save: Baez (1)|
Spain tied Italy at 2-2, knocking Italy from Olympic hopes, meaning only Israel and the Netherlands were in the running now. In the bottom of the first, Spain got to the hosts. 3B Edison Valerio drew a one-out walk from Murilo Gouvea and 2B Oscar Angulo singled. With two away, LF Lesther Galván singled in Valerio for a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the 2nd, RF Javier Monzón walked, stole second, took third on a wild pitch with one out and came in on a single by SS Leomartires Rodriguez. He stole second as well, going to third on a throwing error by C Beau Maggi. CF Engel Beltre's sacrifice fly made it 3-0.
Italy came back in the 4th. DH Chris Colabello, playing with a nose guard after yesterday's fractured nasal septum, homered off Antonio Noguera to make it 3-1. In the 5th, SS Gavin Cecchini singled, advanced on a wild pitch and a grounder and scored on a fly by 3B Erick Epifano. In the bottom of the inning, Spain got their last run on two-out doubles by Angulo and 1B Jesús Ustariz. Italy came within a run in the 7th against Daniel Álvarez as Cecchini singled, Maggi walked, Epifano hit into a force and LF Drew Maggi singled in his brother.
A brawl after the game led to many suspensions and fines, which were expected to be appealed. Players suspended were Drew Maggi (12 games), Fernando Baez (12 games), Monzón (12 games), Andrés Pérez (12 games), Lowuin Sacramento (5 games), Ustariz (5 games), Beltre (3 games) and Galván (3 games); additionally, an Italian team staffer was suspended.
|Win: M. Minařík (1-0) Loss: Bleich (1-1) Save: Schneider (1)|
Czechia hands Israel its only loss. CF Matěj Hejma, the second batter of the game, went deep off DJ Sharabi. Marek Minařík cruised through three. In the bottom of the 4th, though, CF Blake Gailen doubled and 1B Danny Valencia homered to put Israel ahead.
The Czechs came right back in the top of the 5th against Jeremy Bleich. 3B Martin Červinka singled and 2B Jakub Hajtmar buntd him over. SS Martin Schneider singled in Červinka to tie it. Hejma singled as well and C Martin Červenka hit a 3-run shot to left to make it 5-2. DH Petr Čech walked and advanced on a grounder, then scored on a double by RF Jakub Malík. 1B Daniel Vavruša doubled as well and it was now 7-2. Benjamin Wanger would turn in shutout relief the rest of the way.
Israel came a bit closer. In the bottom of the 5th, 3B Zach Penprase singled, advanced on a wild pitch and scored when Červinka erred on a ball hit by 2B Mitch Glasser. In the 6th, Valencia walked, C Nick Rickles singled and DH Simon Rosenbaum hit a two-out single, but the Czechs allowed nothing further. Schneider moved over from short to throw hitless ball over the final 2 1/3 innings for the save.
|Win: Wagman (2-0) Loss: Elario (0-2)|
Israel only needed a win over winless South Africa to advance to the Tokyo Games and they got it, capping a dramatic year that began with them in the 2019 B-Level European Championship. Israel took advantage of nine walks to walk away with this one. The theme was evident in the top of the 2nd. C Nick Rickles drew a walk from Jared Elario, SS Ty Kelly was hit with one out and DH Benjamin Wanger walked. Garth Cahill relieved and RF Simon Rosenbaum hit a sacrifice fly. 3B Zach Penprase was plunked and 2B Mitch Glasser walked to force in Kelly. CF Blake Gailen got their first hit of the rally, a two-run single to make it 4-0.
In the 3rd, the same guys got things going. Rickles singled off Dylan Unsworth, Kelly drew a one-out walk and Wanger doubled in Rickles. Rosenbaum hit his second sacrifice fly and it was 6-0. In the 6th, now facing Stuart Baron, Wanger doubled, Penprase hit a one-out single and Glasser had Israel's third sac fly. Joey Wagman shut out the African champs for the first six. In the bottom of the 7th, he allowed singles to 3B Jonathan Phillips, RF Brandon Bouillon and DH Brett Willemburg to close it to 7-1.
Israel made it a mercy rule win in the 8th. Penprase and Glasser drew one-out walks from Callan Pearce and Derek Bayliss relieved. Gailen singled in a run and 1B Danny Valencia capped it with a 3-run homer. While Israel was largely composed of American-born players, they were less fake than the 2004 Greek Olympic team as Israel did have several actual Israelis on the roster, including Shlomo Lipetz, who closed out this game.
|Win: Yntema (2-0) Loss: Maestri (0-1) Save: Sulbaran (2)|
Italy did not avenge their loss in the finale of the 2019 European Championship, instead dropping their third in a row as the hosts finished a disappointing 5th. The Azzurri struck first, in the bottom of the 3rd. RF Mattia Reginato singled off Orlando Yntema, advanced on two grounders, then scored when 3B Dwayne Kemp erred on a ball hit by SS Gavin Cecchini.
The Netherlands were contained for three innings by Alessandro Maestri but they got to him in the 4th. Kemp struck out, but took first on a wild pitch on strike 3. CF Roger Bernadina doubled and C Hendrik Clementina walked to load them up. With one out, RF Kalian Sams hit into a run-scoring force. Maestri hit DH Sicnarf Loopstok and 1B Yurendell de Caster singled home Bernadina to make it 2-1. 2B Sharlon Schoop's single scored two more to chase Maestri.
Italy came close in the 6th. DH Chris Colabello singled and with two outs, 2B Alessandro Vaglio homered and it was now 4-3. The Netherlands got plenty of insurance in the ninth. Schoop singled off Alex Bassani and SS John Polonius bunted him over. With two outs, Bernadina was intentionally walked, Schoop scored on a Bassani error (presumably on a pick-off throw) and Clementina was unintentionally walked. Michael Johnson relieved and yielded a RBI double to LF Ademar Rifaela. Sams hit a two-run single. J.C. Sulbaran got the save, making him the only player with multiple saves in the event.
|Win: Vavruša (1-0) Loss: Balboa (0-1)|
The Czechs, with a team of actual Czechs, triumphed over Venezuelan-laden "Spain" to earn third place. They also placed ahead of another team with lots of ringers, Italy. For a while, Spain looked in control. They got the game's first runs, in the 4th off Jan Novák. With two outs, DH Fernando Martínez singled and 3B Edison Valerio doubled. C Blake Ochoa singled them both in, RF Yancarlo Franco singled (one of his three hits today) and SS Leomartires Rodriguez singled; Ochoa tried to score on the play but was gunned down at home by LF Martin Mužík. Valerio homered in the 6th to make it 3-0.
Czechia was shut out for three by Carlos Sierra and by Elián Leyva in the 4th, then Jorge Balboa (a rare actual Spaniard for Spain) relieved and tossed a scoreless 5th. In the 6th, Czech SS Martin Schneider took advantage of Spanish defensive lapses. He singled and advanced to second on Valerio's error. With one out, he stole third and came home on Ochoa's throwing error. In the 7th, RF Jakub Malík singled and 3B Daniel Vavruša hit into a force. 1B Tomáš Juněc reached on a fielder's choice and 2B Jakub Hajtmar got a bunt single to load the bases. Schneider struck again, with a sacrifice fly to cut Spain's lead to one.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Czechs really made things rocky for Balboa. Jakub Voják had a pinch-hit single with one out and Malík drew a two-out walk. Balboa then also walked Daniel Vavruša, Juněc and Hajtmar in order to make it 3-3, then 4-3. Schneider cleared the bases with a 3-run double for a 4-RBI day and to give the Czechs plenty of insurance. Daniel's brother Jiří Vavruša got the win, closed out by Jan Tomek.