Video: Grand slam seals Dutch baseball squad’s third-straight European Championship
With one swing of the bat, Kalian Sams secured a victory for the Dutch national baseball team over Italy in the one-game final of the 2019 European Championships. The 33-year-old outfielder belted a grand slam off Italian left-handed starting pitcher Luis Lugo that sailed over the center field wall in the fifth inning.
An error and a wild pitch preceded the go-ahead homer, and was followed by a solo home run from John Pollonius. Alberto Mineo’s home run in the bottom of the fifth was the last run of the game, setting the final score of 5-1.
The team’s Ademar Rifaela was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, as well as the Home Run King and RBI King for the event.
The Dutch defense did a good job of protecting pitcher Donny Breek. Sharlon Schoop showed good range with a diving stop at third base, and a long accurate throw to get Christopher Colabello out at first.
Despite Italy loading the bases in the eighth against Mike Bolsenbroek, strong relief pitching from Kevin Kelly ended the threat. An inning later, Italy’s Andre Maggis hit the ball on the ground to third, and a force out at second base ended the game.
Starters Breek and Lugo were the pitchers of record.
It marks the third-straight European Championship for the Netherlands, and the 23rd overall. With the strong showing in the tournament, the Dutch side are one step closer to being one of the six baseball teams playing in the 2020 Olympics.
The Dutch and the Italians will be joined by the third-place team, Spain, fourth-place Israel, and fifth-place Czech Republic in the Europe/Africa Qualifier. South Africa will also participate in the six-team tournament in Italy later this week.
The winners of that tournament automatically punch a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics. The second-place team will have to play for a spot in another qualifying tournament next spring with teams from all over the world.