The day held such high hope. The Austrians had won their opener in impressive fashion and, following a bye, had four-time and defending champ Russia in their sites.Said Austrian manager Phil Chapin: “Today has the possibility of being the greatest day in Austria baseball history.”
Coach Lutz Rauch had a slightly more realistic-sounding approach, saying “I am prepared for everything – from us winning to being 10-runned.”
By the time it was all said and done, Russia had beaten Austria 12-1 here in Kutno at the European LL Regional.. But don’t think for a minute the game was anywhere near that one-sided.
It was a 2-0 game in the third. Russia was batting, and there were two out. A Russian batter hit a smash in the hole that was slowed only by the shortstop’s eye from going to the fence.
Turns out, he was also the team’s No. 2 pitcher, and when he had to leave the game (he’s OK), things went downhill. Russia went on to score two runs after that and eight more against Austria’s weakened relief corps.
“It’s not over, Chapin said of the Pool A race and European championship. “We hope to see them again before it’s all over.”
Thus far, Russia is 3-0 in Pool A, followed by Italy and Netherlands at 2-1 and Austria at 1-1. In Pool B, both Germany and Moldova are 2-0.
Chapin is from Ann Arbor, MI, and despite havng been in Austria for eight years as an engineer for Siemens, still maintains Wolverines football season tickets. He hopes to get back to MI one year soon; in the meantime, he’s selling some of his single-game tickets to EMEA umpires who are from the U.S.
Unlike most of the other coaches in this tournament, Chapin understands LL rules and uses them to his advantage. He is the only American coach in the 13-team tournament.
In this, the post-KMac (Ken MacDonald) Era of Austrian baseball, there are changes in the works. The makeup of the Austrain baseball program has slowly evolved from mostly Americans to mostly Austrians.
As an example, Austria’s seniors team in Miejske Gorka for the EMEA Seniors tournament team had only two Americans.
The Austrian majors team here in Kutno has only four Americans.
And this predominantly Austrian team hopes to get another shot at the Russians before this tourney ends.
NOTES: Only in Kutno Dept: Moldova’s first baseman told a Bularia runner it was OK to go second base, that he had checked with the umpire and the umpire (Danville’s Russ Ruslender) had said it was OK. The Bulgarian stepped off and was immediately picked off, prompting Ruslender to replace the runner and admonish the fielder…Lisa Gill, wife of the former Bulgaria coach and mother of two kids currently on the Bulgarian team, had said the other day that even the 10-run-rule games in Kutno were entertaining. Until Bulgaria got 10-runned by Germany on Wednesday. “This stinks,” said the Colorado Springs native, grinning…Sam Griffith and Perry Tucker, who are sitting at my table at Jana’s as I write this, have both asked for a “mention.” Done.