Slovakian baseball players advanced to the 2021 European Autumn Championships in Italy. Their historic success was ensured by Saturday’s 12:2 win over Ireland in the final of the qualifying tournament in Bratislava.
The Slovaks played a total of four matches on the field of BK Apollo Bratislava in Podunajské Biskupice during the qualifying tournament and all succeeded.
In the beginning they beat Hungary 3:2 in a balanced match, then they beat Finland 12:1. In the third game of the group, they defeated Ireland 15:5, as both sides were given room for Saturday’s head-to-head final, mostly younger players.
The Slovaks decided in September about the promotion to the European Championship with a final victory of 12:2 already after the seventh inning, which they achieved with a good start to the meeting.
In the first inning, they turned away the hopeful position of the opponent, who had occupied all the goals. They scored 4 runs in the second and five more in the fourth.
While the opponent was able to cosmetically correct the result in the sixth inning, the Slovaks decided the game early with three more runs in the seventh inning. So they can look forward to the final tournament, where they play in the group against the selections of the Netherlands, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
Slovaks reached the continental elite tournament for the first time. Pitcher Jakub Ižold had a huge credit for that, who scored an incredible 22 strikeouts in the game against the Hungarians alone.
“It is a perfect success, for the first time in 30 years we are playing in the championship at elite level. The most useful player of the tournament was our pitcher Jakub Ižold, we could not have done it without him.
Our representative Denis Pakši also became the best batsman of the tournament. In all the games we played excellent, we only played with the Slovaks, the Irish and the Hungarians also had naturalized Americans,” said František Bunta, general secretary of the Slovak Baseball Federation (SBF).
The reward for the selection of playing coach Martin Brunegraf for a perfectly managed home tournament is the final tournament in Piemonte, Italy (September 12-19). “There will be excellent opponents, we are all looking forward to it.
The organization of our tournament was not easy during the corona crisis, I would like to thank the Ministry of Education and the State Secretary for Sport, they have helped us enormously.
All the participants in the tournament underwent regular PCR tests, there were a lot of them and even the representatives of the participating countries were given exemptions to play in the matches,” said Bunta.
The coach and player of the SR Brunegraf did not hide his great enthusiasm after the promotion.
“It’s a huge reward for us in a difficult time. We only had pre-qualification training in the Czech Republic, the results there were not ideal, few people believed in us. But now all the players performed perfectly, we were a united team and everyone did his best,” he said, also evaluating the individual matches:
“The first game against Hungary was difficult. They had Americans with Hungarian passports. However, we had them scout them and we knew that if we could do it, our chances of success would increase. We started with the best we had and Jakub Ižold in particular was incredible.
We performed well against the Finns and that was enough for a comfortable win. In the third game against the Irish it wasn’t a big deal, we both had the final for sure, so other players got their chance, they took it and we won 15:5.
We showed strength and came into a good mood for the final. In it, the Irish put an American on the mound in the first inning and although our goals were full, we were able to eliminate the opponent without out.
It was something surreal, then I knew we could do it. We put in an excellent performance, we were excellent in defense and we did a fantastic job.”
In Italy, the Slovaks will also try to get good results.
“Now we have shown that we can play baseball well. We want to show it to all of Europe at the championship. Certainly, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic are opponents of the absolute top level, but it could be an even game with the Swedes. definitely trying to save us from the elite”, promised the SR coach.