ZÜRICH – No. 19 Poland overcame an early lead by winless Slovenia to rip 17 hits in a 12-4 drubbing of Europe’s 21st-ranked nation. Milosz Paprocki led the way with a 4-for-4 day, also collecting a walk, two stolen bases, and a pair of runs scored. The victory kept Poland’s title hopes alive and relegated the Slovenes to the cellar in the B-Level European Championships’ Zürich Qualifier.
In the first inning, Uros Rudolf was hit by a pitch by Karol Lapczyk and stole second with two outs. Igor Drobnjak came up with a clutch hit, stroking a single to left to give Slovenia a 1-0 advantage. Lapczyk would escape the frame without further damage, but Poland could not answer against Rok Vadas until the second.
Paluch was plunked to start the frame and swiped second, moving to third on a grounder. Paprocki came up with his first hit of the day to even the score, but Vadas induced a strikeout and another groundball to keep the score tied.
Poland would plate two more in the following frame, with Mariusz Paprocki drove in Ariel Rainko and Dominik Golubiewski, both of whom had singled with none out. Slovenia had a chance to narrow the 3-1 deficit in the fourth, loading the bases with two out, but Lapczyk left them jammed with a key groundball out to end the frame.
With the key opportunity lost, Slovenia fell apart in the bottom of the inning, giving up four hits and three runs, with Golubiewski ripping a big two-run triple and coming all the way around to score on a throwing error.
With a 6-1 advantage, the red-and-white continued the offensive onslaught, stroking five more hits in the fifth, plating four more runs. Another error led to a run, and Gracjan Kraszewski had a two-run single to make it 10-1.
With Vadas taking one for the team, Poland tacked on two final runs in the sixth. Przemyslav Paluch knocked a safety to start things off and stole second. Mariusz Grzanowski followed with a single into the rightfield corner, scoring later in the inning on a wild pitch.
Slovenia finally solved Lapczyk in the seventh. Tadej Brelih singled to right centre with no outs, advancing to second on a throwing error and third on a bouncer to second. Rudolf doubled with one down to plate Brelih, while Vadas had more luck at the plate than on the mound, scoring Rudolf with a sacrifice fly.
Pawel Stejka pitched the final two frames for Poland, surrendering an unearned run in the ninth to the Slovenes. Brelih collected a two-base hit to start the inning and scored on an error, but Stejka ensured that there would be no comeback despite two walks in the frame.
Lapczyk earned the win after throwing 120 pitches in seven-plus innings. He gave up three runs on six hits and five walks (two intentional), sending down six on strikes. Vadas gave up all 12 runs on 17 hits and two walks, striking out seven and throwing an incredible 168 pitches.
Drobnjak collected two hits and two walks for Slovenia, while Brelih also had a hitting brace. Rudolf and Brelih both scored twice. Slovenia committed two errors in the loss.
Nine different players had hits for Poland, with six collecting at least two safeties, including Milosz Paprocki’s four. The red-and-white also stole nine bags. Poland committed three errors.
Poland will contest No. 14 Ukraine at 9:30 a.m. GMT on 26 July. Both nations are 2-2 in the Zürich qualifier, and the victor of the game will need Bulgaria to lose soundly against Great Britain, the top team in the pool. Slovenia will play for pride at 17:30 against the hosts, Switzerland, which has had a disappointing 1-3 showing in the tournament.
Stay tuned to Extra Innings for continuing coverage of the B-Level European Championships.