It’ll be Moscow vs. Irvine, Calif., in one game and Vilnius against Utena in the all-Lithuanian second semifinal of the Sporto Vilkai Cup here in Utena Monday.
The largest crowd in tournament history – OK, so it’s only two years’ worth of history, but what the heck? – watched Utena trim the Czech Republic 5-4 Sunday afternoon, an outcome that set in stone all the pairings for Monday.
If the Czechs had beaten Utena, we would have had to replay the Czech-Vilnius II game from Saturday. That’s the game I wrote so much about yesterday in which the Lithuanian plate umpire struggled so terribly.
Anyway, the Czechs are OK with the fact that the game will not be replayed, since a reversal of the outcome wouldn’t put them in the semis anyway.
The team that is the most happy about the Czech-Utena outcome, to be perfectly honest, is the team of umpires, who get to avoid their third consecutive 7:45 a.m. to 9 p.m. day at the field.
Monday’s other two games, weather-permitting: Dublin vs. Czech Republic, and Belarus-Vilnius II.
A QUICK WALK in front of the bleachers during Sunday night’s 5-4 Dublin victory over Sporto Vilkai (Vilnius I) found the following: vodka, whiskey, beer, cigars and cigarettes. One Lithuanian father saw me making mental notes, held up his bottle and said, “Sure…why not?”
SAM GRIFFITH, Bobby Gumbs and I gave away all our throat protectors in Kutno to teams that didn’t have them. So we came to Utena with the ones on our masks, and that’s it. And then we gave THOSE away, too, to Russia, Belarus and the Czechs.
So, of course, Sam took a wicked shot off the throat Sunday…couldn’t catch his breath, and then couldn’t utter a sound for the final four innings of Russia’s 9-0 rout of Belarus.
He’s fine now, but there’s a reason we enforce the throat guard rule.
BEST SHOT of the day: We picked up another Lithuanian umpire Sunday – the father of our first-year, 20-year-old ump, Edward.
“Big Ed” had the plate for Dublin-Sporto Vilkai Sunday night, and he was an absolute sight to behold – Paul Bunyan in gear, if you will – as he prepared to take the field: red and yellow shin guards over the top of black jeans and chest protector over the top of a t-shirt…he’d just come from Vilnius, about 90 minutes away, where he did a 9-inning senior men’s game earlier in the day – by himself. By end of day, he had plate slacks and an umpire shirt big enough to pull over his muscles/chest protector, thanks to Bobby.
SECOND-BEST shot of the day: Dublin manager Mike Schaaf in the third-base coach’s box, coaching his team while videotaping the action.
NOTES: Two one-sided games in a row for me. I had the plate for Irvine’s 18-0 rout of Vilnius II Sunday. On Saturday, I did the 20-0 Utena adult men’s victory over Belarus…We gave the semifinal plate assignments to Bobby and to Rimvydas, who is one of the best Lithuanian umps we’ve seen this week…Tom Kelly paid us a visit today. He hails from Manhattan Beach, CA, works for the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, and his son, Sean, plays for Vilnius II. He’s been our point of contact for shipping equipment and clothing/jerseys to Lithuania…Speaking of jerseys, Irvine’s kids had to do a double-take when they traveled halfway round the world and saw the Vilnius II team wearing Trabuco Canyon jerseys. The two leagues are 10 miles apart.