2019 Pan-American Games Qualifier

The citiies of Ibiúna and São Paulo, Brazil were selected to host the final qualification tournament for the 2019 Pan-American Games in Lima. Four other teams had already secured places at that event, including Perú as hosts, Argentina as South American Championship winners, and Puerto Rico and Cuba from the Central American and Caribbean Games.

Before the tournament, Venezuela dropped out due to funding issues, but even without it, the field was loaded with top COPABE teams. Global No. 6 México, No. 10 Canada, No. 12 Dominican Republic, No. 14 Colómbia, and No. 15 Nicaragua were all present, while the hosts checked in at No. 17. The top two teams in each group qualified for Lima, though the tournament was continued till a winner had been determined.

Teams were absolutely loaded, with Brazil featuring Andre Rienzo, Paulo Orlando, and Tiago da Silva; Canada had Phillippe Aumont, Chris Leroux, Adam Loewen, Dustin Molleken, Dalton Pompey, Tristan Pompey, Scott Richmond, and Michael Saunders; the Dominicans brought ex-big leaguers Ronny Paulino, Emilio Bonifacio, Atahualpa Severino, and Pedro Viola; Nicaragua had prospects Leo Crawford, Rodolfo Bone, and Ismáel Munguia, plus long-time veteran Wilton López; and Panamá showed up with Manny Corpas, Enrique Burgos, and Severino González. México took only LMB players, while Colómbia had a veteran international squad but started Dodgers’ prospect Jair Camargo.

Thanks to the best efforts of the Orioles’ Garabez Rosa, who had five home runs in five games, hitting .526, the Dominican Republic survived a first round scare that saw three teams all with a 2-1 record to slug its way to a title. Colómbia, Nicaragua, and Canada also qualified, finishing in that order while, for the second time in two years, México was the unfortunate loser of a tie-breaker, and will not make the trip to Lima. Neither Panamá nor Brazil won a game.

Pre-Tournament Friendlies (all games in the afternoon)
Jan. 20 (Ibiúna)            Brazil 3 – Argentina 2
Jan. 21 (Ibiúna)             Brazil 8 – Argentina 5 (had nine hits)
Jan. 22 (São Paulo)        Brazil 11 – Argentina 2 (Agustín Tessera homers)
Jan. 23 (São Paulo)        Brazil 5 – Argentina 3
Jan. 24 (São Paulo)        Brazil – Argentina [cancelled]

Pan-American Games Qualifying Tournament (Pre-Pan)
Group A games were scheduled for Estádio Mie Nishi, São Paulo. Group B games are at CT Yakult, Ibiúna, but on 31 January, both groups moved to Ibiúba. All times local.

29 January       Group  Results
10:00   A          México versus D.R. [postponed due to D.R. visa issues]
11:00    B          Canada 5 – Panamá 1
14:00    A          Nicaragua – Brazil [postponed due to rain at 0-0, top 4]

30 January       Group  Results
10:00   A          Nicaragua – México [postponed due to rain]
11:00     B          Colómbia 10 – Panamá 4
14:00    A          D.R.  – Brazil [postponed due to field conditions, Brazil wanted to play]

31 January        Group  Results
10:00   A          Nicaragua 3 – D.R. 9 [Field 2]
10:00   A          México 13 – Brazil 3 [Field 1]
11:00    B          Canada – Colómbia [rescheduled]
14:00    A          Nicaragua 12 – México 4 [Field 2]
14:30    A          D.R. 3 – Brazil 2 [Field 1]

1 February       Group  Results
10:00   A          México 3 – D.R. 2 [Field 1]
10:00   B          Canada 6 – Colómbia 8
14:00    A          Nicaragua 6 – Brazil 2 [resumed]

Group A Standings
D.R.                 2-1
Nicaragua        2-1
México             2-1
Brazil               0-3

Group B Standings
Colómbia          2-0
Canada            1-1
Panamá            0-2

2 February       Results [Semifinals]
10:00               Canada 7 – D.R. 10
14:00                Nicaragua 4 – Colómbia 5

2 February       Results [Third Place; Finals]
10:00               Canada 12 – Nicaragua 14
14:00                Colómbia 4 – D.R. 17

Final Standings
D.R.                  4-1
Colómbia          3-1
Nicaragua        3-2
Canada            1-3
México             2-1
Panamá            0-2
Brazil               0-3

Continue reading

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2019 International Baseball Schedule

Every year, Extra Innings publishes a list of all international baseball fixtures. This list evolves over the year as most international baseball events beyond the top tournaments are planned less than six months in advance. This was never more true than 2018 [link], a banner year for international baseball, with a far-above-average number of friendlies, the world’s first Under-10 sporting competition, and the usual spate of continental championships and age-level tournaments.

This year, baseball prepares for its return to the Olympics in Tokyo next year with a series of qualifications, including plans for the biggest qualification tournament for Africa in history. Africa has not had intracontinental games since 2007, but five pre-Olympic qualifiers and a continental championship are planned.

Multiple top-tier tournaments will be contested this year, including the second-most important in terms of ranking point. Preeminent is the Premier 12, which will take place in various Asian countries in November. The top finishers from the Americas and Asia and Oceania (provided the team from the latter two regions is in the top six) will qualify for the Olympics. The Under-18 World Cup will be hosted by South Korea in August, while the Southeast Asian Games will bring back baseball for the first time in three editions when it is hosted by the Philippines in the year’s final weeks.

Four continents will contest continental championships, with Olympic spots up for grabs. First is the aforementioned African Championship, which qualifies a winner to the Europe-Africa tournament. The Asian Baseball Championship will take place in Taiwan in November, while Europe will crown its champion in Germany in September, with the top five teams heading to the Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifier. The Pan-American Games will serve as a de facto Americas Championship, but will not offer Olympic places, likely in part because the US decided not to compete.

Although this calendar is devoted solely to national-level competition, we include here MLB’s four series taking place abroad, including returns to Tokyo and Mexico, plus its first MLB game ever in Europe, the MLB London Series. We will be live from the London Series and events surrounding it, with other tournaments with live coverage likely to include the European Under-18 Championship pool in Miejska Gorka and the Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifier in Italy.

Yet to be announced is Team USA’s schedule and any COPABE, COCABE, or South American events. Having spoken to various federations, no one is entirely sure whether there will be any events, though this is not the year for the Central American Games (next edition in 2021), the Central American and Caribbean Games (2022), or the Bolivarian Games (2021). No baseball will be played at the Pacific Games or FISU Summer Universiade, events that often do feature the sport.

Finally, a few notes about the calendar. As usual, Europe is the continent with the most events, while for once, Africa does not bring up the rear (though Oceania is usually neck-to-neck with zero!). There are, by far, more senior national team events Some events are slotted in for a certain time frame without specific dates. For those, we include them under the month scheduled. For several, we are unsure whether they will be contested, with notes to that effect. This year, we have not included Little League or PONY events as it more than doubles the list. We will update this calendar as more tournaments emerge and results come in. Please let us know if you are aware of any international baseball events not listed here.

5                      Don’t Blink Home Run Derby in Paradise
20-24               Argentina & Brazil Friendly Series (Ibiúna, Brazil) [Wrap]
22-27               U18 Oceania World Cup Qualifier (Guam) [Teams: American Samoa, Australia, Guam, New Zealand, Palau, Samoa] [Wrap]
29-Feb 3           Pan-American Games Qualifer (São Paulo & Ibiúna, Brazil) [Wrap]

7-13                 Hong Kong – Guam U15 Exchange Programme (Guam, USA)
9-19                 Hong Kong – México U12 Exchange Programme (Mazatlán, México)
11-18               French National Team Training Camp (Tenerife, Spain) [Link]
15-17               Serie Internacional Copa Amistad (San Salvador, El Salvador) [Cuba (Selections) vs. El Salvador League All-Stars]
17-23              German National Team Training Camp (Tenerife, Spain) [Link]

8-10                 Catalunya Baseball Week (Sant Boi, Spain)
9-10                 Samurai Series: México vs. Japan (Osaka, Japan)
15-17               Puerto Rico vs. Nicaragua International Series (Managua, Nicaragua) [Website]
20-21               MLB: Mariners-Athletics (Tokyo, Japan)
21-25               West Africa [Zone II] Pre-Olympic Qualifier (Port Harcourt, Nigeria) [Invited nations: Cameroon, Dem. Rep. of Congo, Nigeria, Tunisia] [Preview]
22-24               West Africa [Zone I] Pre-Olympic Qualifier (Accra, Ghana) [Invited nations: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo] [Preview]
25-Feb 1           MLB Cadet Camp (Valencia, Spain)
TBD                West Asia Baseball Cup, Sri Lanka
MLB Academies Tournament is usually in March, may not be contested this year.

5-7                   East Africa Pre-Olympic Qualifier (Nairobi, Kenya) [Invited nations: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia] [Preview]
13-14               MLB: Reds-Cardinals (México)
23-26               South Africa Pre-Olympic Qualifier (Johannesburg, South Africa) [Invited nations: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe] [Preview]
Late April        Balkan Baseball Cup (No confirmation it will appear this year)

1                      Danube Cup
1-5                   Africa Championship, winner qualifies for Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifier (Johannesburg, South Africa) [Winners of four Pre-Olympic Qualifiers] [Preview]
4-5                   MLB: Angels-Astros (México)
17-25               Canada JNT Tour (Dominican Republic)
24-26               Swiss Alpine Cup [Website]

7-10                 Finkstonball (Attnang-Puchheim, Austria) [Website] [Austrian NT]
25-July 1         Grand Forks International (Grand Forks, B.C.) [Website]
25-29               Prague Baseball Week (Prague, Czech Republic) [Website]
29-30               MLB London Series (London, UK) [Red Sox-Yankees]

1-7                   European U12 and U12 Qualifier (Třebíč, Czech Republic) [Group A1: Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands; Group A2: Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Russia; Group B1: Austria, Poland, Ukraine; Group B2: Great Britain, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia]
1-7                   European Seniors B-Pool (Trnava, Slovakia) [Group A: Finland, Poland, Switzerland, Ukraine; Group B: Belarus, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia]
1-7                   European Seniors B-Pool (Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria) [Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Russia, Serbia]
8-13                 European U18 Qualifier: Pool 1 (Sundbyberg, Sweden) [Belgium, Great Britain, Israel, Switzerland, Sweden]
8-13                 European U18 Qualifier: Pool 2 (Miejska Gorka, Poland) [Austria, Hungary, Russia, Poland, Slovenia, Ukraine)
12-21               World Port Tournament (Rotterdam, Netherlands) [Website]
14-21               International Baseball Challenge (Whiting, Ind.) [Website]
16-20               European U15 Championship (Nettuno, Italy) [Group A: France, Germany, Italy, Russia; Group B: Austria, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Slovakia]
26-28               European B-Pool Playoffs (TBD)
26-Aug. 11       Pan-American Games (Perú) [Argentina, Canada, Colómbia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Perú, and Puerto Rico]
31-Aug. 4         European Women’s Baseball Championship (Rouen, France) [Czech Republic, France, Netherlands]
TBD                Taiwan-USA Collegiate Series

7-11                 European U23 Championship (Prague, Czech Republic) [Group A: France, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands; Group B: Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ukraine]
TBD                Asian U15 Championship (Shenzhen, China)
TBD                Under-18 World Cup (Gijang, South Korea)
TBD                Nicaragua Friendly Series (Opponent TBD pending Pan-American Games outcome)
TBD                Asian Women’s Baseball Cup (Zhongshan, China)
Yoshida Challenge has not been announced, but usually occurs just before the Euros.

7-15                 European Championship (Bonn & Solingen, Germany) [Website] [Group A: Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, Sweden, Playoffs Winner; Group B: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France, Italy, Spain]
TBD                France-South Africa Series (France)
18-22               Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifier (Parma & Bologna, Italy)
20-29               Women’s Pan-American Championship (Venezuela)
TBD                U15 Pan-American Championship (México)

30-Nov. 3        World Comes to Palm Beaches Tournament (Palm Beaches, Fla.)
TBD                Japan-Vietnam Baseball Association Tournament (unconfirmed)

2-17                  Premier 12 (México, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan)
TBD                Asian Baseball Championship (Taiwan)
30-Dec. 11       2019 Southeast Asian Games (Philippines)
TBD                Curaçao Baseball Week (Curaçao)
TBD                U23 Pan-American Championship (Panamá)

TBD                Hong Kong International Baseball Open [Hong Kong, Singapore]

U12 Baseball World Cup (Tainan, Taiwan)

April 17-23       Pan-American Championship (Colómbia)

By Continental Association [No. of Events], listed in chronological order
ABSA (Africa) [5]: West Africa I, West Africa II, East Africa, and South Africa Pre-Olympic Qualifiers; Africa Championship

BCO (Oceania) [1]: U18 Oceania World Cup Qualifier

BFA (Asia) [7]: West Asia Baseball Cup, Asian U15 Championship, Asian Women’s Baseball Cup, Asian Baseball Championship, 2019 Southeast Asian Games, Hong Kong International Baseball Open

CEB (Europe) [16]: Catalunya Baseball Week, MLB Cadet Camp, Danube Cup, Swiss Alpine Cup, Finkstonball, Prague Baseball Week, European U12 Championship and U12 Qualifier, European Seniors B-Pools, European U18 Qualifiers, European U15 Championship, European B-Pool Playoffs, European Women’s Baseball Championship, European U23 Championship, European Championship 16

COPABE (Americas) [10]: Don’t Blink Home Run Derby in Paradise, Argentina & Brazil Friendly Series, Pan-American Games Qualifer, Puerto Rico vs. Nicaragua International Series, Canada JNT Tour, Pan-American Games, Nicaragua Friendly Series, Curaçao Baseball Week, U15 Pan-American Championship, U23 Pan-American Championship

Global [11]: Hong Kong – Guam U15 Exchange Programme, Hong Kong – México U12 Exchange Programme, Samurai Series, World Port Tournament, Taiwan-USA Collegiate Series, Under-18 World Cup, France-South Africa Series, Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifier, World Comes to Palm Beaches Tournament, Premier 12, U12 Baseball World Cup

By Age Level [No. of Events], listed in chronological order
U12 [2.75]: European U12 and U12 Qualifier, World Comes to Palm Beaches Tournament [four age levels], Curaçao Baseball Week [mixed], U12 Baseball World Cup

U15 [4.75]: Catalunya Baseball Week, European U15 Championship, Asian U15 Championship, World Comes to Palm Beaches Tournament, Curaçao Baseball Week [mixed], U15 Pan-American Championship

U18 [5.25]: U18 Oceania World Cup Qualifier, MLB Cadet Camp, Canada JNT Tour, European U18 Qualifiers, Under-18 World Cup, World Comes to Palm Beaches Tournament

U23 [3.75]: Swiss Alpine Cup [Mixed Senior and U23], Taiwan-USA Collegiate Series, European U23 Championship, World Comes to Palm Beaches Tournament, U23 Pan-American Championship

Senior [23.75]: Argentina & Brazil Friendly Series, Pan-American Games Qualifer, Samurai Series, Puerto Rico vs. Nicaragua International Series, West Africa I, West Africa II, East Africa, and South Africa Pre-Olympic Qualifiers; West Asia Baseball Cup, Africa Championship, Danube Cup, Swiss Alpine Cup, Finkstonball, Prague Baseball Week, European Seniors B-Pools, World Port Tournament, European B-Pool Playoffs, Pan-American Games, Nicaragua Friendly Series, European Championship, France-South Africa Series, Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifier, World Comes to Palm Beaches Tournament, Premier 12, Asian Baseball Championship, 2019 Southeast Asian Games, Hong Kong International Baseball Open

Women [3]: European Women’s Baseball Championship, Asian Women’s Baseball Cup, Women’s Pan-American Championship

Other [1]: Don’t Blink Home Run Derby in Paradise



Posted in Africa, Argentina, Asia, Asian Baseball Championship, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belarus, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Caribbean, Central America, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Congo, Croatia, Cuba, Curaçao, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Don't Blink Home Run Derby, El Salvador, Europe, European Championships, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greeece, Guam, Hong Kong, Hong Kong International Baseball Open, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, MLB, MLB European Academy, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North America, Oceania, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Premier 12, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South America, South American Championship, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Tournaments, U23 European Championship, Uganda, Ukraine, USA, Venezuela, Zambia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2019 African Baseball Championship and Olympic Qualifier

Photo from Ghana Baseball and Softball Federation Facebook page.

According to various sources, 2019 will feature the first African Baseball Championship since 2007, with the winner advancing to a final Olympic qualification tournament for Tokyo 2020. A total of 17 nations have been invited to play, with five federations tabbed for their international debuts. The nations have been divided into four zones, each of which will contest qualifying rounds in March and April before moving on to the championship. These tournaments have been developed by the WBSC, apparently with input from federations, though information on the actual organisation has been hard to find.

The four winners will meet in South Africa to play the Africa Championship from May 1-5, hosted by the Boksburg Baseball Club in Johannesburg, which did an excellent job with the France-South Africa series in November. It will be the fourth continental championship in Africa, following events in 1999, 2003, and 2007, with most nations dormant since that latter date. The winner of this continental championship will then move on to the Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifier in Bologna and Parma, scheduled for Sep. 18-22.

Zone West 1
Africa has traditionally been broken down into six zones, which have been contracted into four for this qualification process. The first is Zone West 1, hosted by Ghana from March 22-24 at the Labone Secondary School in Labone, a suburb of Accra.

In addition to the host nation, three other countries have been invited: Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Togo. All but neophyte Ivory Coast participated in the 2007 West Africa Championship, the only other tournament in which Burkina Faso and Togo have played. This would be Ghana’s fourth tournament, though it has also played at least one friendly.

Photo from Ghana Baseball and Softball Federation Facebook page.

Zone West 2
Zone West 2 will be played in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, between March 21-25. The four countries invited are Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and Tunisia. Cameroon last participated in the 2007 African Championship, at which Nigeria was a competitor. Like Ghana, Nigeria has played in three prior tournaments, while the DRC and Tunisia would be making their senior national team debuts. It is worth noting that our only contact in Congo believes he is the only baseball player in the nation.

Photo from Baseball Tomorrow Academy Facebook page.

Zone East

The third pool, Zone East, has Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia grouped together at the Lenana School in Nairobi. The tournament is scheduled for April 5-7. Only Uganda has played in an African Championship, though the first three teams held the East Africa Championship in 2017, transitioning to a youth club tournament a year later. Zambia played a few friendlies in 2006 and 2007, its last action.

Photo from Baseball Federation Kenya Facebook page.

Zone South
The final pool, Zone South, will be hosted by Boksburg. In addition to South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Zimbabwe have been invited for the tournament, scheduled for 23-26 April. After headlines that Mozambique would develop a former bull-fighting arena into a baseball stadium [link], we had hoped the nation might also make its debut.

This group has a mixture of fairly active nations by African standards (Lesotho, South Africa, and Zimbabwe) with two countries for whom we have absolutely no information. Botswana has been making quick progress in softball, but even its softball federation is unaware of baseball being played. Namibia has never been mentioned in either context.

The greatest challenge for the success of these tournaments is whether federations will be able to fundraise enough money to participate. There are few airlines flying between African cities and the prices are extremely high (often well over €500 one-way), with motorways not nearly the speedy option as elsewhere in the world.

More from us as the situation develops, so make sure you are following along @ExtraInningsUK (or even bookmark us if you do not have a Twitter account).

Final photo courtesy of Catherine Buckley. 

Posted in Africa, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Congo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2019 U-18 Oceania Baseball Championship

Contested for the first time since 2015, the Under-18 Oceania Baseball Championship featured five nations and had plenty of surprises along the way. The winner would qualify for the Under-18 World Cup in Gijang, South Korea, later this year, while the others were ensured at least five valuable ranking points. Guam hosted and Guam Major League’s Mark Colby provided constant updates to its Facebook while also serving as announcer, scoreboard operator, and running the press box.

Despite a proclamation that the New Zealand side was ‘probably the best ever assembled’, it was American Samoa who surprised. Flush with Americans with university scholarship offers, it breezed through the opening round, defeating Australia in a one-run contest before setting down the Diamondblacks. Australia did, however, pitch the first no-hitter in U18 Oceania history. Pool play was marred by ineligible players used by Palau, which appeared to have misunderstood eligibility rules.

Rain played havoc with the final few days of the tournament, but not before a surprising twist in the semi-finals. After Australia smashed American Samoa, 16-0, Guam took advantage of an error-plagued New Zealand to eliminate the Kiwis. Following a modified double-elimination bracket, American Samoa then blasted Guam to advance to the championship.

Torrential rain prevented the game from being finished, with Australia up 5-0 in the fourth. According to tournament rules, the final standings defaulted to the situation before the game and Australia was pronounced the winners for at least the third straight time. No nation other than Australia has ever represented Oceania in the Under-18 World Cup or its predecessors.

No awards were given. All games were scheduled for seven innings and games are listed below with local start times. Local time in Guam is CEST + 9 and US Eastern + 15.

22 January
7 pm Guam 7 – Palau 0*
* Palau actually won the game by a score of 5-2, however, they were forced to forfeit after it was discovered that 3 of their players had exceeded the age limit

23 January
11 am American Samoa 13 – Palau 2 (5)
3 pm American Samoa 5 – Australia 4
7 pm New Zealand 13 – Guam 3 (6)

24 January
11 am New Zealand 7 – Palau 6 (8)
3 pm New Zealand 4 – American Samoa 8
7 pm Australia 11 – Guam 0**
**Combined no-hitter for Australia, first in U18 Oceania history.

25 January (Rain delayed start of games by 2:30 hours, then played with 2 hour limit)
1:30 pm Australia 10 – New Zealand 0 (5)
4 pm Palau 1- Australia 11 (5)
7 pm Guam 6 – American Samoa 7

By the Numbers (Pool Play)    R            H            E
American Samoa                            33          28          11
Australia                                           36          34          5
New Zealand                                   24          28          8
Guam                                                 16          5             8
Palau                                                 9             9             5

26 January (Semifinals)
(a) 1 pm No 1 seed (American Samoa) 0 – No 2 seed (Australia) 16 (Mercy rule walkoff in 7)
(b) 6 pm No 3 seed (New Zealand) 6 – No 4 seed 11 (Guam)

27 January (Medal Games)
Bronze medal game: (c) 12 pm loser (a) [American Samoa] 15 – winner (b) [Guam] 6
Championship game: 5 pm winner (a) [Australia] – winner (c) [American Samoa]: Cancelled due to rain with Australia leading 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth.

Australia                            4-1
American Samoa             5-1
Guam                                  2-4
New Zealand                    2-3
Palau                                   0-4

Posted in American Samoa, Australia, Guam, New Zealand, Oceania, Palau, Tournaments, U18 World Cup | Leave a comment

Markus Solbach Breaks Australian Record

©Adelaide Advertiser

ADELAIDE, Australia — In a game featuring multiple WBC qualifying round stars, recent Dodgers signee Markus Solbach today broke the Adelaide Bite record for most strikeouts in a season. The German right-hander struck out fellow international veteran Gift Ngoepe in the second for the record-breaking K as Adelaide topped Sydney 3-0.

Solbach has had an excellent season, tossing eight quality starts from the beginning of the season. After a small hiccup last week, the Dormagen native finished on a strong note, whiffing four in 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Solbach tied Dushan Ruzic‘s 2012 club record with a strikeout of Jacob Younis in the first, while Solbach got Ngoepe swinging for his 72nd K to start the second. After a walk to former major leaguer Jason Rogers, the Bite starter added to his club record with another strike three to Jack Murphy.

The new record will stand at 74 after Murphy was called out on strikes in the fourth, Solbach’s last batter of the season. Despite the 27-year old’s efforts, his Adelaide squad were the only non-expansion team not to make the playoffs, though it has won almost 20 percent more games this year.

Solbach finished with an eye-popping 1.10 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, and .178 batting average against in 10 starts over 65 1/3 frames. His strikeout mark is second in the ABL behind yet another national team veteran, Italy’s Alex Maestri, who finished with 77 in 58 1/3 innings. Team Australia’s Steven Kent has 72 in the exact number of frames as Maestri, but with one start remaining after his was rained out today. It is currently No. 10 on the all-time best season marks.

Earlier this year, Solbach set the club record for strikeouts in a game, with 14 on Nov. 29 against Perth. His ERA mark is the best for any Adelaide starter, with only reliever Loek van Mil’s 2016 0.40 mark (in 22 1/3 innings) and Richard Olson’s 2013 ERA of 0.74 (36 2/3) ahead of him on the charts. In fact, his 1.10 ERA is second in ABL history among qualified players after Mike Ekstrom’s eye-popping 0.72 total in 2013.

On Jan. 3, it was reported he had inked a minor league deal with the Dodgers, returning to affiliated ball for the first time since 2016. Solbach had a pair of excellent seasons for the Rockland Boulders of the Can-Am League, recording a 2.99 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 259 innings combined.

This year, he returned to Germany to play for the Bonn Capitals, winning North Division Best Pitcher after recording a 0.38 ERA in the regular season and a 2.76 ERA in the playoffs. Solbach has a 3.34 ERA in 1056 2/3 career innings from his first season at age 16, with a superb 3.51 minor league mark across six campaigns.

Posted in Africa, Europe, Germany, Italy, South Africa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bichette Drafted No. 1 for Don’t Blink Home Derby

Excitement continues to build for the second annual Don’t Blink Home Run Derby in Paradise, for which we had an exclusive preview last week [link]. A new feature of this year’s edition premiered today as best friends and rival team captains Todd Isaacs and Lucius Fox faced off for a player draft in setting their team rosters. The squads feature a big leaguer, Lewis Brinson, plus three Top 100 prospects, but it was 2018 Derby Champion Bo Bichette that was the No. 1 overall pick by Team Fox.

Bichette won the first home run derby with 23 home runs, including nine in the championship round, taking his swings against his father, long-time Colorado Rockies star Dante Bichette, Sr. When we first saw Bichette, he was an 18-year old playing for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in Brooklyn, where his side was upset by Isaacs’ Great Britain, which also featured derby participants Jazz Chisholm, Chavez Young, and Reshard Munroe, plus fellow Bahamian Champ Stuart, who will be unable to attend.

Since then, Bichette has rapidly shot up the prospect charts after a massive 2017 that saw him slash .362/.423/.565 with 22 stolen bases in the Midwest and Florida State Leagues. Challenged with an assignment to Double-A New Hampshire this year, the 20-year old held his own against competition that was more than four years older than him on average. Bichette hit .286/.343/.453 with 32 swipes on a loaded team that included Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. and Cavan Biggio.

“The reigning champion is going to be here to defend his crown and I have great confidence in him,” explained Fox. “I feel very confident making him the first pick of this draft.”

Isaacs went outside the box for his team’s No. 1 draft pick, selecting teammate Will Benson. The towering outfielder is Cleveland’s No. 25 prospect (MLB.com) after ripping 22 home runs for Lake County. The 20-year old already has 38 dingers in his young career thanks to his 6-5 (1.96m), 225 (102kg) frame.

“This guy is a guy that I believe will put us over the edge,” noted Isaacs. “[Benson] hit 22 home runs this year so he will be out there to put on a show.”

The second round saw a pair of brothers pitted against each other, with Fox taking teammate Josh Lowe and Isaacs answering with Nathaniel Lowe. The former is a 20-year old centerfielder who played with Fox on the Charlotte Stone Crabs, hitting .238 with six home runs as the No. 15 prospect in the Tampa Bay system. The elder sibling, only 23, advanced all the way to Triple-A in a breakout campaign that saw him mash 27 homers and hit .330. The first sacker is ranked thirteenth among Rays minor leaguers.

A pair of fast-rising prospects went in the third round, with Team Fox putting the first Bahamian on the board in Kristian Robinson. Robinson only turned 18 a few weeks ago, but had a sensational debut in the Diamondbacks’ organisation, hitting .279 with seven home runs in 222 at bats against much older competition. The 6-3 (1.9m), 190-pound (86kg) outfielder is Arizona’s No. 12 prospect.

Meanwhile, Isaacs took teammate Nolan Jones, the No. 84 prospect in baseball and No. 2 among Cleveland minor leaguers. At 20, Jones excelled across two levels of A-ball, slashing .283/.405/.466 with 19 home runs.

In the fourth, Fox was fortunate to find Jazz Chisholm still on the board. We have touted Chisholm as a future big leaguer since seeing him play for Great Britain in Brooklyn at only 18. Slowed by injuries in 2017, the 20-year old shortstop had a breakout performance in 2018. Chisholm was a Midwest League All-Star after ripping 15 homers among 36 extra-base hits in only 76 games, turning things up in a promotion to the California League.

Arguably now the Bahamas’ brightest rising star, Chisholm smashed 10 roundtrippers in his final 36 games for Visalia, hitting .329 and running his season stolen base total to 17. The lefty-swinger concluded with one of the most memorable Arizona Fall League performances in recent memory, hitting .442 and flashing power (seven extra-base hits, including three homers) and speed (seven stolen bases) to finish with 25 home runs and a .287 average for the campaign.

Team Isaacs was then the beneficiary of a spot to draft Shed Long, Cincinnati’s No. 7 Prospect. The second-sacker played the year in Double-AA at 22, finishing up with a stint in Arizona as well. Long hit .259 overall, cranking 12 home runs for an even 50 in his career.

Two more high-ranking prospects were taken in the fifth, as Fox claimed Monte Harrison and Isaacs took Jonathan India. Harrison is the Marlins’ No. 2 minor leaguer after coming over from the Brewers in the Christian Yelich trade. A true five-tool player, Harrison smacked 19 homers in Double-A before teaming up with Chisholm in Arizona, where he showed much-improved plate discipline.

Meanwhile, India is already the No. 51 prospect in baseball, fourth among Reds’ farmhands, and had a solid debut after being taken fifth in 2018 MLB Draft. India slashed .240/.380/.433 across three levels of the Cincinnati system, playing with Munroe for a handful of games.

Two more big names were called in the sixth round as major leaguer Brinson fell to Fox, while Isaacs took countrymate Chavez Young. Brinson now has over 100 professional home runs (103), by far the most in the event. The Marlins’ centerfielder underwent trial by fire in the bigs this year, but hit 11 home runs in only 382 at bats.

Young was yet another Bahamian with a breakout 2018, shooting up from rookie ball to Single-A and finishing among the leaders for steals, hits, and extra base hits in the Blue Jays’ organisation. Young, another key cog in the ascendant Great Britain side, hit .285 with 44 steals and 50 extra-base hits, including eight bombs.

Team Fox rounds out with Munroe, Tyler Frank, Larry Alcime, D’Shawn Knowles, Dominique Collie, and Warren Saunders selected by Fox in rounds 7-13. The 12 total players hit 99 home runs in 2018, with 280 total professional home runs.

Frank was the Rays’ second-round pick in the 2018 draft, while Knowles, one of two Bahamian baseball twins, had a superb debut for the Angels, slashing .311/.391/.464 for to rookie league teams at only 17. He is ranked No. 24 in the system.

Fox has been consistently challenged after signing the largest contract ever for a Bahamian in 2015. The shortstop was a Futures Game selection in 2017 and this year was a Florida State League All-Star and Arizona Fall League Rising Star. Fox hit .285 with 36 stolen bases and superb defence between High-A, Double-A, and the AFL.

Isaacs was labelled as the ‘fastest player in college baseball’ in 2015, when he was selected by Cleveland. A New York-Penn League All-Star the following season, Isaacs played his second year in the Midwest League in 2018. The fleet-footed outfielder played all three positions on the grass and set career highs in doubles (20), runs (47), and stolen bases (30).

The rest of his squad features Bahamians Trent Deveaux, Courtney Smith, Anfernee Seymour, Keithron Moss, D’Vaughn Knowles, and Orveo Saint. All but Seymour just wrapped up their first professional seasons. In total, Team Isaacs hit 103 dingers this past season, with 194 over all players’ careers. Continue reading

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Brinson, Toussaint, Chisholm Lead Don’t Blink Home Run Derby’s Loaded Lineup

When we last spoke with Bahamian Todd Isaacs, the first Don’t Blink Home Run Derby in Paradise had just concluded in sensational fashion, with Blue Jays’ top prospect Bo Bichette winning the home run crown before a large and enthusiastic crowd. In January, the next generation of Bahamian talent had yet to arrive, with many still amateurs, and the country absent from Pan-American tournaments in recent years. The event will return on Jan. 5, 2019 from Montagu Beach, with even more fanfare than its first edition.

In the 11 months since our last report, those of you who follow us on Twitter will have noticed the ascendancy of Bahamian baseball, from breakout seasons by young prospects Jazz Chisholm and Lucius Fox, plus impressive debuts from D’Shawn Knowles and Kristian Robinson. Meanwhile, Isaacs spent the year with Single-A Lake County and again teamed with country-mate and best friend Lucius Fox to recruit minor leaguers to attend.

Isaacs told us after the event last year that he had put the event together in only three months with help from his father and Fox, an incredible accomplishment given it was the first baseball event in the Bahamas featuring professional players in history. A number of highly-rated prospects participated and attended, including Nick Gordon, a derby finalist, and pitchers Triston McKenzie and Juan Hillman. Charles Johnson and Dante Bichette, Sr. were in attendance as well.

This year, Isaacs and Fox have expanded what was already an excellent event by pitting themselves as captains of Team Isaacs and Team Fox.

“With more Bahamians signed since our first Home Run Derby, Lucius and I put a twist on to the format,” Isaacs told us. “This year we will select teams from the pool of players. Each team will represent a respective charity where a 60-40 donation will be made to the winning and losing team’s charity.”

The two sides will draft a team of 14 total players from a mixture of Bahamian minor leaguers and top prospects, including defending champion Bichette, who last year took tosses from his dad. Stay tuned for the pre-recorded draft will be televised on all @DontBlink242 social media platforms this weekend.

“The Don’t Blink Home Run Derby powered by Aliv Draft was hosted at Atlantis. The draft was very exciting for us because we got to be GMs for a day.”

In addition to the returns of Bo Bichette and Gordon, two young studs that saw major league time this year will be in attendance. The first is Lewis Brinson, the headliner in the Christian Yelich trade, who spent most of the year with Miami. The other big leaguer is the Atlanta Braves’ Touki Toussaint, a Top 60 MLB end-of-season prospect. Toussaint, a rifle-armed hurler, is of Haitian and Kenyan descent and grew up in Florida, but is becoming an important figure as Caribbean baseball gains rapid momentum.

Jazz Chisholm is now the biggest name among Bahamians after an All-Star season in Single-A that culminated in an even more impressive performance to High-A. Overall, Chisholm hit .287 with 28 dingers and 24 swipes for the three teams as the Arizona Diamondback’s Minor League Player of the Year.

Chisholm will be joined by four of his Great Britain teammates, including Chavez Young, Champ Stuart, Reshard Munroe, and Isaacs. These four formed an electric outfield in the 2017 World Baseball Classic Brooklyn Qualifier for a young team that upset Brazil and lost two heart-breakers to Israel, which advanced to the second round. Munroe had a strong season in rookie league and should be a dark horse along with Robinson and Knowles, while Young had a mammoth season to break into the Blue Jays’ top prospects ranks.

On Friday, Jan. 4, the teams will host a kids’ camp at the Atlantic Resort, with five former players aiding the impressive roster of participants in teaching young Bahamians about the game. As Isaacs and I discussed in February [link], the Bahamas lacks top-level coaching and international standard facilities, adding extra importance to the clinic and derby for both instruction and awareness.

“Baseball here in the Bahamas is continuing to show steady, promising progress with an additional three players, with Orveo Saint, Chavez Fernander, and Warren Saunders being added into the professional system this calendar year.

“We are still without proper training facilities nor a conventional baseball field, so our resilience continues show. Inspiring the youth baseball players here in the Bahamas is something that we all find pivotal into the continued growth here in the country so being able to host this Home Run Derby every year is something we are proud of because we know the lasting impact it holds amongst our future baseball superstars.”

The derby begins on Saturday at noon. There will be a team winner and the top four hitters from each side will go head-to-head for the individual winner. As in the 2018 edition, players will aim for targets set in the water off Montagu Beach, with kayakers retrieving the balls for use in youth leagues around the island.

Each team will represent a charity, with Team Isaacs supporting Sister Sister Breast Cancer Support Group [link]. Meanwhile, Team Fox will raise money for Cancer Society of The Bahamas [link].

“We chose to represent both Cancer societies because Cancer is one of the top causes of death throughout the Bahamas. Many of the guys that are participating in the event have lost their mothers, grandmothers and aunts to cancer. I myself have lost both grandmothers and grandfather to cancer. We want families to know that they are not fighting alone and we are proud to help.”

The full list of players is as follows: Larry Alcime, Will BensonDominique Collie, Trent Deveaux, Chavez Fernander, Tyler Frank, Monte Harrison, Jonathan India,  Nolan Jones, D’Vaughn Knowles, Shed Long, Josh Lowe, Nate LoweKeithron Moss, Alexis PantojaOrveo Saint, Warren Saunders, Anfernee Seymour, Courtney Smith, Shameko Smith, and Tahnaj Thomas.

Those wishing to attend the event will want to stay tuned to our Twitter @ExtraInningsUK and follow @DontBlink242 for updates. The Atlantis Resort will be offering discounted rates for the entire week of the derby, with more information here [link].

Photos courtesy of Rev TV and Don’t Blink with the exception of Jazz Chisholm, copyright Extra Innings UK. 

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Seventh Hong Kong International Baseball Open

Over the weekend, the annual Hong Kong International Baseball Open returned in its seventh addition. Over the years, it has featured a similar set of teams, including three national teams from small Asian countries, two universities, travel teams from North America, and clubs from Asia.

This year, it featured its three usual teams in the national team category: Hong Kong, Singapore, and a club team from Vladivostock playing as ‘Russia’. It is worth noting that Sri Lanka was offered a place, but could not attend due to the cost of travel and lodging in Hong Kong. The club version has universities from the Phillipines and Australia, plus a club from Taiwan and the Hong Kong Junior National Team.

After finishing round robin play at 4-0, Hong Kong claimed the No. 1 seed against Singapore (2-2). The hosts slashed .405/.529/.579 with a 2.45 ERA and .148 batting average against (though they walked 17 against 29 Ks in 22 innings), while Singapore beat up on Russia and struggled against Hong Kong. No team hit a home run or fielded above .885. Full statistics are available here [link].

In today’s final of the HKIBO, Hong Kong defeated Singapore, 14-4 in eight innings, to win the title, its fourth in-a-row and second straight since the switch to a national and club team grouping.

Additionally, the HK Juniors (‘Blue’) upset Ateneo 14-7 to dethrone the Filipino university, which has won the HKIBO every year it has entered (2014, 2017), either as overall champions or club champions. Hong Kong Blue was 3-0-1 overall, defeating Ateneo twice, the only losses the Pinoys have ever suffered (11-2 all-time).

Leading the Blues was Lawrence University (Wisc.) spring graduate Matthew Holliday [bio], a D3baseball.com Third Team All-Central Region first baseman [article]. Holliday was 7-for-10 with three doubles, a walk, and no strikeouts, the top performance by any batter in the tournament.

Hong Kong does appear to be improving as a result of the tournament, going from one team that finished third out of four clubs in the first edition in 2012 to two champions in 2018, moving up slowly each year. They are 15-6 in seven tournaments.

Continue reading

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2018 Pan-American Under-10 Championship

Honduras played host to a historic first for baseball and, possibly, for all major international sport: a tournament for Under-10 baseball players. This inaugural Pan-American Championship for this age level had little fanfare and it is unclear how the site was selected or why no other countries participated. Our understanding was that the event was WBSC-sanctioned and would include rankings points, but the latest rating did not offer any points.

An additional note of interest is that the player listed by Brazil as ‘Juan Muniz Filho’ is J.C. Muniz’ son. Muniz is a long-time veteran of Brazil’s national team and has also played in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, NPB’s Chiba Lotte Marines, and in the Florida Marlins’ system.

Brazil started off by winning its first three games, including a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Dominican Republic, but were then shut out by Nicaragua and lost to Guatemala for the latter’s only win. Nicaragua thus cruised to the No. 1 seed in the semis, while Brazil had a rematch with the D.R.

This time, the Dominicans cruised to a 10-2 victory, while host Honduras kept things surprisingly close against Nicaragua. Having dropped from a tie for first through three days, Nicaragua instead played a close one against Honduras, ultimately winning 3-0. The final saw Nicaragua properly challenged for the first time, squeaking by the Dominicans, 2-0.

All First-Round days were 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. Games were scheduled for seven innings. Full results and some awards are available below. Continue reading

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean, Central America, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, South America, Tournaments, U10 Pan-American | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ebersohn’s Two Homers Secures Fifth Win for South Africa

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – You heard it here first: South African baseball is on the rise! With yet another dominant performance, South Africa put an exclamation point on its series with France, claiming an 11-4 victory to defeat its European visitors five games to two. Rowan Ebersohn jacked two home runs and drove in six to finish with five of the hosts’ 16 round-trippers.

If the following sounds familiar, it is not a coincidence: South Africa came out charging, scoring two runs before French starter Yoan Antonac could record an out. In fact, for the sixth time in seven games, the home side scored in the opening frame.

It was Kyron Bibis, who has served in the leadoff spot with Victor Ngoepe unavailable for the three games in Cape Town, who got South Africa started. The centerfielder walked to start the game and went to third on a two-bagger by Nicholas Eagles. Ebersohn then drove both runners home on a single to centre. Antonac, as he did in first start, recovered momentarily to notch a pair of strikeouts, but his defence let him down.

Benjamin Smith bounced a ball to shortstop that should have erased Ebersohn, but the transfer was bungled and South Africa had two on. Dayle Feldtman made France pay with a hit up-the-middle, and the score read 4-0. A strikeout, Antonac’s third of the frame, ended the threat.

Dean Jacobs, who had walked a pair and thrown a wild pitch in the top of the first, settled down in his second inning of work. Jacobs went 1-2-3 with a whiff to keep France off the board.

The bottom half of the frame was all Charl Cordier. Benjamin Bodet replaced Antonac for the visitors, but Cordier greeted him with a first-pitch homer to left field. Bodet got the next three batters, but South Africa now sported a five-run lead.

France fought back in the third against reliever Damon King. F. Kovals reached on a defensive miscue and stole second before Dylan Gleeson took a free pass. King then induced a groundball to second that turned into a nifty double play, but veteran Andy Paz singled through the left side to break up the shutout.

An inning later, South Africa’s defence imploded. Leonel Céspedes started a rally with a leadoff double and José Paula joined him on the bases after a walk. A double steal moved both runners into scoring position and groundball by Kovals turned into a two-error, two-run safe call. Gleeson then bounced another ball to shortstop with the same result, with Kovals coming around to score. A fourth error on the infield sent Gleeson to third, but the unlucky Timothy Lee finally generated a grounder that was fielded and the nightmare inning was over. France, however, had posted three runs on the board.

The next two half-innings saw three-up, three-down in each, with South Africa clinging to a 5-4 lead. A switch by France to Jonathan Mottay, however, jumpstarted South Africa’s bats again.

With one down against Mottay, Ebersohn mashed a longball to centre for one run and Brandon Bouillon took a pitch before belting his four-bagger, targeting the left field wall for back-to-back jacks. A pair of walks spelled the end of the day for Mottay and Clémént Esteban had to come in to get France out of the inning.

Neither club could change the 7-4 scoreline until the eighth inning. Yesterday’s hero Kyle Botha, who had entered as a defensive replacement at first, led off with a base on balls issued by Franklín de la Rosa and moved over two bases on an errant pickoff throw and a wild pitch. After a free pass to Cordier, Bibis drove a ball to centre for the sacrifice fly and Eagles drew yet another base on balls.

Up stepped Ebersohn and crushed a home run to right field and the scoreboard changed to double digits for the fourth time in seven games. Jayde Thorne then concluded the contest with a quick 1-2-3 and South Africa celebrated its resounding series win.

South Africa picked up 110 rankings points during the recently concluded Under-23 World Cup and will add at least six more points for its defeat of France. As previously reported [link], when the new WBSC World Rankings are released, South Africa will find itself at No. 23, quite possibly the first time it appears inside the Top 25. France will fall a place to 25th.

Ebersohn finished 3-for-5 with six RBI and three runs, the only player on either side with more than one hit. His pair of dingers gave him five in his last 10 games. Bibis reached base three times in the victory. South Africa totalled nine hits and eight walks as a team, while France could muster only five hits and four free passes. Maxime Lefevre, Paz, Céspedes, Paula, and Kovals all had a hit and a walk for France.

Six pitchers saw action for France, with Antonac (0-1) taking the loss. The Phillies’ farmhand had his second-straight rough appearance as one of the youngest players in the tournament. Bodet put in one of France’s better pitching performances of the series with three innings of one-run relief, sending down three on strikes. Clémént and Maxence Esteban each were unscored on the bump.

Seven moundsmen took the hill for South Africa, with Brad Erasmus earning his second win. He struck out two in two scoreless, while Jacobs did not allow a hit in his two innings to start. Jacobs issued two free passes but struck out four. All four runs for France were unearned.

We will release a list of tournament awards and statistics tomorrow. An unofficial box score is available [here]. Other articles for this series: Game 1 [link], Game 2 [link], Game 3 [link], Game 4 [link], Game 5 [link], and Game 6 [link].

A big ‘thank you’ to South Africa’s scorekeeper, Augusta ‘Gussie’ Phillips, for the box scores and statistics. All pictures copyright Cape Town Baseball Federation, with the exception of the first picture of Ebersohn, copyright Extra Innings.

Posted in Africa, Europe, France, South Africa | Leave a comment