Dutch Team wins thriller to reach final European Championship!
REDIPUGLIA / RONCHI DEI LEGIONARI (Italy) -
The Dutch National Softball Team won a Hitchockian thriller on Friday-evening to beat Italy 5-1, thanks to a 2-out, 4-run rally in the eighth inning to reach the final of the 17th European Championship.
A 2-run double by Nathalie Gosewehr and a 2-run inside-the-park-homerun by Solange Starrenburg highlighted the deciding at bat.
Winning pitcher Dagmar Bloeming threw a strong game, struckout eight and gave up only five hits.
The Dutch will play the final on Saturday-evening and meets the winner of the game between Italy and Great Britain, which will be played in the afternoon.
By reaching the final, the Dutch Team also kept its so-called A-status of the Netherlands Olympic Committee, meaning it secured its funding for next years program.
The NOC sets limits for all sports to reach in order to keep their financial support.
In the morning, everyone was off and had the possibility to fill in these hours themselves or spent them with family.
For instance, Coach Tracy Bunge, Team Manager Paul Boonstra and Media Officer Marco Stoovelaar went to nearby Trieste.
A Live play-by-play will be available again for Final
Go here for the Play-by-Play of the Final between the Dutch and Italy or Great Britan.
Go here for a complete look at the other games and their play-by-plays to be played on Saturday.
A live stream with commentary also will be available of the final game.
Go here for the live stream
Overall in the semi-final, the Dutch Team was the best team.
Not only because it won the game, but also in the previous seven at bats, before the eighth inning started.
The Dutch Team reached base 11 times in the first five innings, while Italy reached base only five times in that span.
But the Italians added two more runners in the seventh inning, which led to a tie score and an extra inning.
In the first inning, Chantal Versluis led off with a walk, but then was called out for interference on a grounder by next batter Meike Witteveen.
The latter then stole second base and Britt Vonk walked, but both were left behind.
In the second inning, also two runners stranded.
With one out, Solange Starrenburg singled and Nathalie Timmermans walked, then both advanced on a passed ball, but the Italians then eliminated the next two batters.
In the third, the Dutch Team had no luck.
With one out, Britt Vonk singled, then the speedster stole second and third base.
Next, Saskia Kosterink lined the ball to veteran short stop Eva Trevisan, who caught it just above the ground, then also was able to double up Britt at third base on a nice play.
In the fourth inning, Virginie Anneveld led off with a single and advanced on a sac-bunt and flyout, but also stranded.
In the fifth, the Dutch broke the scoreless tie.
Areke Spel led off with an infield-hit, then was safe on a force play-grounder by Chantal Versluis.
Next, the bases got loaded when Meike Witteveen reached on a bunt-single.
Areke then scored when Britt Vonk followed with a sacrifice fly.
But then, Chantal was eliminated at home on a squeeze-bunt by Saskia Kosterink and a grounder ended the inning.
While it was only 1-0, this lead looked to be enough, as the Dutch Team played a very strong game.
Italy didn't reach second base in the first six innigs off Dagmar Bloeming, who threw a great game.
She gave up a lead-off single to Eva Trevisan in the first inning, but she was caught stealing moments later.
A walk followed with two outs, but Dagmar then finished with a strikeout.
In the second inning, rightfielder Areke Spel made a nice catch on a line drive towards the fence.
With two outs, a single followed, but Dagmar again ended with a strikeout.
In the third, another 2-out single followed and this time, the runner was left behind, as a flyout ended the at bat.
In the fifth, Dagmar started with two strikeouts, then another 2-out single followed, but a grounder left the runner behind.
The Dutch Team was retired in order in the sixth and seventh inning by a new pitcher.
In the sixth, Italy also was held off base, but then it tied the score in the seventh.
With one out, a single followed, then a grounder accounted for the the second out.
Next, the ball was batted towards Dagmar Bloeming for the apparent third out.
But things went wrong, as she saw two players go towards first base and a throwing error followed, which led to the tying run.
Next, Areke Spel caught another line drive in rightfield, meaning the game went into extra innings.
The Dutch Team then again showed its strength and put on an impressive offensive show in the eighth inning with two outs.
With tie-break runner Meike Witteveen on second base, Britt Vonk was walked intentionally.
Next, Meike was forced out at third base on a grounder by Saskia Kosterink and the same happened to Britt on a grounder by Virginie Anneveld.
After Saskia was replaced by pinch-runner Fabienne van Uden, Nathalie Gosewehr belted the ball into left-centerfield for a 2-run double to put the Dutch back on top again.
Next, Solange Starrenburg hit the ball to almost the same spot, where it caroomed off one of the outfield-posts.
Nathalie scored on the hit by Solange, who kept on running and hit an inside-the-park-homerun to make it 5-1.
Nathalie Timmermans, who was hit by a foul ball in an unfavorable spot of her body earlier in the game (but luckily was able to continue playing), then followed with a single and Areke Spel walked, which led to another pitching change.
The inning then ended when Chantal Versluis struckout.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Dutch were off to a good start, as the tie-break runner was called out on a great pick-off by catcher Nathalie Timmermans.
Dagmar Bloeming then followed with her eighth strikeout and the next batter popped up to 3B Virginie Anneveld leading to an outburst of celebration on the field, as the team returned to the final of the European Championship.
It also led to Dutch family-members and supporters regaining their breath again.
But it also led to a lot of compliments (also by Italians) for the great game the Dutch Team had played.
This game was the 50th playing for the National Team for Nathalie Timmermans and Britt Vonk.
Afterwards, the staff received several text messages, addressed to the team:
,,What wonderful for you all. They now have the taste. Congratulations with the A-status'' (Cocky Remmers, Netherlands Team supporter)
,,Wow...What a game...This is class!'' (Mireille Gill'ard, Head Coach Dutch Juniors Red)
,,Yess!!!!! Lot of fun tomorrow but this (plus the A-status is in THE pocket!!!! (Ruud van Zetten, former chairman KNBSB)
,,Congratulations. Wonderful accomplishment. Directly going to the final. Great to continue like this in the tiebreak. Now tomorrow one more attack.'' (Hans Meijer, director KNBSB)
,,Congratulations coaches and team with the place in the final!'' (Marjolein Merkx, player Dutch Juniors Red)
,,Wow! That was awesome... Congratulations with the A-status Tomorrow some more ass kicking. Lot of success! (Tjerk Smeets, marketing manager KNBSB)
,,Congratulations with the reaching of the final and the NOC-limits. Wat a tiebreak and good hitting and running. Good luck!!! (Nathalie Franssen, Coach Dutch Juniors Red)
,,Congraulations Craig and of course also the rest of the team. What a game. I've enjoyed it. Good luck tommorow.'' (Jeroen van de Wiel, video analyst)
,,Great outing! Good luck tommorow!'' (Mary-Ann Hatt, Coach Dutch Juniors White)
,,Hey Craig, so far so good! Super, unbeaten champion would be fantastic and next year World Championships! Go for it today. Good luck!'' (Ingrid Holstege, Physical Therapist Netherlands Team)
,,Dear Craig and team. Congratulations with the reaching of the final. Good luck tonight'' (Roelant Oltmans, Performance Manager Team Sports, Netherlands Olympic Committee)
,,Super! Well done! Lots of success tonight!'' (Rob Walgien, former coach Dutch Team)
,,Well done Craig. We have enjoyed your team, lots of success tonight and greetings to everyone'' (Ruud and Lida Geels, parents-in-law of Craig)
A view of the Adriatic Sea near Trieste
Coach Tracy Bunge with Media Officer Marco Stoovelaar with the Adriatic Sea in the background
(photo taken by Paul Boonstra)
The harbour of Trieste
The Azamara Quest, an R-class cruise ship, which was built in 2000 and carries 710 passengers
and 410 crew members and is currently used for Mediterranean Cruises
The Piazza Unita d'Italia in Trieste
The Palazzo del Governo
Coach Tracy Bunge and Team Manager Paul Boonstra enjoy a capuccino on a terrace in Trieste
In the evening, it's back to the field
The Dutch supporters are ready for the semi-final against Italy
The Dutch Team is approaching the final step by step
Head Coach Craig Montvidas during the pre-game preparations
Batting tees are waiting to be used before the game
Fred Versluis, who made several photos for this site, got his press credential today
A bright moon looked on during tonight's game
From the practice field to the main field, the Orange wooden shoes are getting there step by step...
...but of course, sometimes they needed to rest a little
The 5-man umpire crew for the semi-final vs. Italy with tournament-mascot Opo
LF Josť Sanchez (Sweden), 3B Juan Maestre (Spain), HP Jan Hora (Czech Republic),
RF Zdenek Zidek (Croatia) and 1B Manfred Szieber (Austria)
Tonight's game was televised live by RAI-Sport on and the Internet
Coaches Craig Montvidas and Tracy Bunge look on before the game
Standing at left is Britt Vonk
The Dutch supporters are ready!
And so is Lindsey Meadows...
...and Fred Versluis with his photo-colleagues
The coaches and umpires meet
Time for the players introductions
The 5-man umpire crew looks on
The teams listen to the National Anthems
Italian starting pitcher Mara Papucci
Chantal Versluis led off the game with a walk, but is lated called out for interference
Meike Witteveen after stealing 2nd base in the first inning, but she is left behind
1B Coach Tracy Bunge instructs baserunner Britt Vonk after she walked in the first at bat
But Britt also was left behind in the first inning
Pitcher Dagmar Bloeming and 3B Virginie Anneveld are ready to start the game
More Dutch supporters look on from centerfield
Dagmar Bloeming pitched all eight innings, struckout eight and gave up five hits
Solange Starrenburg led off the second inning with a single, but strands on third base
Areke Spel sits down after scoring the first run in the fifth inning
Stella Turazzi took over the Italian pitching in the sixth inning
The 8-inning thriller ends in celebration, the Dutch are back in the final
End of the game, victory eight is now a fact
The players close the game with the team-yell