British Baseball Federation
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Great Britain 7 (WINS) over Israel at the European Championship Qualifier U18 in Sweden.

Author: BBF - Greg Kettle , 11/07/19

Great Britain tied in standings at the Euro Championship Qualifier Pool 1 in Sweden with two wins and one loss for the week.

Thursday, 11th July 2019

Great Britain 7 (WINS) over Israel at the European Championship Qualifier U18 in Sweden. 

In their third game of the tournament, the Great Britain U18s faced off against an undefeated Israel. Israel looked to be the favourites, especially with GB having lost the previous game to Belgium. With the odds against them, Great Britain pulled off one of the most impressive comebacks in recent memory. GB Baseball trailed for the majority of the game. A seventh-inning run gave the team their first lead of the game and their second win of the tournament. The starting lineup for the game was as follows:

1.    Aidan Pearce - C
2.    Jack Seppings - SS
3.    Michael Flaherty - 3B
4.    Jamie Warren - CF
5.    Mitchell Vom Scheidt - DH
6.    Conor Baxter - 1B
7.    Nathan Simmons - 2B
8.    Dylan Baxter - RF
9.    Ben Morris - LF

Nathan Kettle - P

GB wasted no time in putting runs on the board, with SS Jack Seppings reaching on a walk and then scoring on an ensuing error. Controversy quickly hit the game as DH Mitchell Vom Scheidt stepped up to the plate with two outs and a runner on second. Hoping to add to their early lead, Israeli head coach protested to the umpires that the bat used by Vom Scheidt was illegal and the at-bat should, therefore, result in an automatic out.  Unfortunately, the bat was ruled to be illegal, causing Vom Scheidt to be called out and also be ejected from the game, ending the inning. Alex Deacon came into the game as the replacement for Mitchell Vom Scheidt. Israel was quick to pounce on the swing in momentum, capitalising on two 1st inning errors by the GB infield to score four runs. The inning was by a sac fly by RF Shaked Baruch to give Israel a three run lead. While GB P Nathan Kettle struggled to command his pitches in the 1st, it wouldn't take long for him to settle into the game and hold Israel scoreless in the 2nd. Heading into the top of the 3rd, GB still trailed 4-1 and looked to once again tag Israeli starter Ivri Magolin for some more runs. A one out double into left-centre from 3B Michael Flaherty looked like it could spark the offence back to life. Clearly, it did as CF Jamie Warren followed with an RBI single to cut the lead to two. The bottom of the third inning was highlighted by Nathan Kettle and C Aidan Pearce combining for a strikeout-caught stealing double-play, showing off the teamwork developed from years as London Mets teammates. 

In the 4th inning, the GB bats once again came to life, as RF Dylan Baxter knocked his first hit of the competition, a double down the left-field line that just eluded LF Daniel Laderman. A walk by Aidan Pearce meant a Jack Seppings ground ball could have resulted in an inning-ending double play. However, smart baserunning by Baxter distracted 3B Zev Moore, avoiding the double play. The mentioned kept the inning alive for Michael Flaherty to load the bases with two outs. Jamie Warren once again came up big in a critical moment, singling to left to bring home two runs and tying the game. Israel was once still quick to respond, smacking three hard ground balls down the left-field line, with all going for singles. The third and final of these from 1B Jordan Petrushka scored a go-ahead run that once again, giving Israel a 5-4 lead after four innings.

Israel would add another run in the 5th, this time from a double from SS  Chorev to extend Israel lead to 6-4. That would be it for Nathan Kettle on the mound as he would be relieved by Jack Seppings in the 6th. On the day Kettle went five innings, giving up six runs (1 earned) to go along with four strikeouts and three walks. Kettle moved out to RF immediately, With Dylan Baxter moving to 2B as Nathan Simmons moved to 3B and Michael Flaherty moved to SS to replace Jack Seppings. William Baranello pinch hit for Ben Morris to lead off the 6th, but both he and Aidan Pearce would be unable to reach base leading to two outs in the inning. But GB didn't go away quietly that inning, as both Seppings and Flaherty reached base and then moved into scoring position thanks to a wild pitch. Jamie Warren once again came up in a prominent spot, with the tying run on second and two outs in the inning. He did not disappoint, crushing a bases-clearing triple to right to level the score at 6. Israel had no answer in their half of the 6th as Jack Seppings quickly dispatched the heart of the order. He had help from Dylan Baxter, who made a spectacular play on a ball over his head. He raced backwards and reached up at full extension to grab the flyball, sprawling on the ground and saving a hit. The mentioned kept the game tied heading into the final inning. 

GB looked to be off to a quick start as a pitch hit Conor Baxter. The early hope seemed to be lost, however, as Baxter was then picked off after a missed bunt. GB started from square one, as Nathan Simmons and Dylan Baxter then reached base on back to back walks. That brought up William Baranello, who laced a single into right field. Not wanting to be overly aggressive, 3rd base coach Jonathon Cramman held Simmons at 3rd. The meloaded the bases for Aidan Pearce, who after reaching a 3-2 count lifted a fly ball out the centrefield. Simmons tagged up and broke for home, racing against the strong throw from CF Uri Shani. Simmons proved to be faster, sliding in headfirst around the tag to score gave the go-ahead run. That would be all that GB would score in the inning, giving them a slim one run lead heading into the bottom of the 9th. Seppings would not crack under pressure, pitching even more efficiently than the inning previously. The final out of the game would be a fly ball to the game's starter, Nathan Kettle. Battling the sun, Kettle squeezed the flyball for the last out before running into the infield to celebrate the comeback win with the rest of the team. 

After the win Head Coach Will Lintern had this to say:

"Today was all about the team. Each GB player played a part in this victory, but it was the sum of our collective parts that pushed us over the line. From start to finish this team ground out at-bats, made plays in the field, picked up our teammates and wore our Lion's hearts on our sleeves. We played our game, executed our playing philosophy. But as in many cases, it was the mental approach that separated us. Our ability to attack, have excellent pre-pitch preparation and to be focused on winning this pitch gave us the margin we needed. Many individuals played superbly to name them all. But I can confirm that we committed to our approach, executed our plan, and the results speak for itself. These young Lions roared today, and they have represented their country and themselves with attitude, integrity, confidence and hustle." 

Many stands highlighted the win out individual performances, but it will be remembered for the incredible team effort that was made. The ability to battle through adversity was entirely on display in this game. Hopefully, GB will take the wave of momentum that it now rides into Friday's game against Sweden, where it will play for a chance to make it to the finals and play for promotion. Even if that is not what eventually happens, everyone involved with today's win can still be proud of their part in the victory.

Great Britain is tied in the standings with Belgium (two wins and one loss) at the top of the leader board. Next, for GB Baseball is Sweden, 12th July 2019 at 17:30 BST, before the final playoffs brackets are determined. There are two Pools in this year's European Championship Qualifier U18 Tournament i.e., Pool 1 and 2. According to the CEB rules the winner of each Pool advances to next years Championship Tournament. GO GB BASEBALL! 

A spokesperson for the BBF, said " We are exceptionally proud to beat a great Israeli team and wish them success for the rest of the tournament. The win today, is the top victory for the GB Baseball, U18 in Team history. A lot of credit goes out to our coaches who had a great game plan and the fans travelling with the team or online following the action who never lost hope. If you account for our under U12 National Team success and today's victory that makes it six wins and two losses for two divisions and still to come is more of our U18 team, U15, U23 and the Seniors Teams. Our National Team Programme has never looked more promising and we are grateful for everyone's support." 

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