MOSCOW – Belarus and Russia each switched opponents on the second day of European Championship qualifiers, but the results were similar as both made their relentless attacks on the second day in a row. Slovenia had their chances in a 13-8 loss to Belarus but never quite caught up as Siarhei Sokal hit the track twice in a preview of the Moscow Pool night drink. During the evening game, Russia started eight homers in a 19-6 defeat against Switzerland, including two eye-catching homer days for Geidys Soler and Ian Péres.
Belarus 13 – Slovenia 8
Slovenia got off to a good start in their second game of the European Championship qualifiers, scoring three runs in the first frame. In the lower half, however, Sokal offered one of the two themes that would dominate the rest of the game. The Belarusian shortstop drilled a double homer to get his team on the board.
The second motif then appeared in the top of the second. Žan Primožič laced a double on the right side and Ilya Sladzinski took the next blow. Belarus’ starter then worked out of the traffic jam and both stranded. In total, Slovenia would leave 15 on the base for the remaining innings.
Yauheni Karalevich returned to Topic One in the second half of the frame and flapped a large fly to the right to reach two more. Belarus wouldn’t look back, added two more in the following frame and answered a three-run inning from Slovenia in the fourth with four of their own markers. Sokal took care of half with another round tripper. The remaining innings went a little smoother, although Slovenia scored two goals in their sixth game against Belarus and temporarily reduced the lead to 11: 8. Individual runs in this inning and in eighth place put victory on the ice for the Belarusians.
Sokal was 3-for-4 with three runs, one base on balls, and two steals in play, while Karalevich reached base four times, touching home each time. Haris Konjević and Primožič each had two excavators and a single for Slovenia. Primožič was a solid relief for the Slovenes, hitting six in four innings, with four walks and only two hits and two undeserved runs.
Sladzinski (1-0) lost five to win and enabled four deserved runs. Yauheni Kurhun did not allow a hit in the last two frames and hit two for the parade. In total, four Belarusian pitchers handed out 15 free passes and a pair of HBPs while giving up eight hits, but Slovenia couldn’t take advantage of them.
Russia 19 – Switzerland 4 (6)
In the second game of the day from the Russian capital, the hosts showed an offensive worthy of a mid-season special. No CEB records have been set, but Russia has considered itself for most home runs in a game with eight in just six innings. The result was a fun game for the home fans, especially since both sides played an impeccable defense and Swiss throwers threw just one pair of strikes.
Thierry Burkhardt’s first home run of the day took a turn and brought Switzerland 2-0 up in the middle of the first round. That was the last time that the Red Crosses were close in the competition.
From then on, the story developed as follows. First inning: Geidys Soler, double shot, and Ian Péres, solo homer. Second inning after four runners have already scored: Péres, Drei-Run-Bomb, and Nikita Monakhov, square. Third inning: do nothing. Fourth: Alexander Bolgov, solo homer, and Yunior Valiente, round-tripper with two on-bases. Sixth and final frame, after a goalless fifth: Maxim Monakhov and Soler, consecutive boys.
Russia hit 18 hits, 10 for a single base and the remainder over the outfield fence. Soler was 4-for-5 with four runs and seven ribies, while Valiente and Péres each had two hits and four RBI. The Swiss approach against Russia’s starter was solid, with the Red Crosses reaching Denis Leonov for three runs with three hits and a step in four frames, despite the right-hand player sending eight on strikes. According to the goalscorer, this wasn’t enough for Leonov to win as Petru Balan, the southpaw of the former twins, threw a goalless frame.
The showdown between undefeated Russia and Belarus takes place today, July 1st, and is likely to be the de facto Title game. The fourth qualification pool for the European Championship also starts in Belgrade. All games are streamed live with a link to video and boxing results available on the WBSC’s tournament page [link].
Moscow road map
June 29: Belarus 31 v Turkey 2 (5)
June 29: Slovenia 0 v Russia 20 (5)
June 30th: Slovenia 8th – Belarus 13th
June 30: Switzerland 4 v Russia 19 (6)
July 1: Turkey – Switzerland
July 1: Russia – Belarus
July 2nd: Switzerland – Slovenia
July 2: Russia – Turkey
July 3: Turkey – Slovenia
July 3: Belarus – Switzerland
July 4th (final): TBD
July 1: Estonia – Ukraine
July 1: Bulgaria – Serbia
July 2: Ukraine – Bulgaria
July 2: Serbia – Estonia
July 3: Estonia – Bulgaria
July 3: Serbia – Ukraine
July 4th (final): TBD
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