Day: 31 July 2015

Spider Monkey* Blog #4.5

*Spider Monkey has subcontracted the writing of today’s blog to Andy “The BOOM” Kav

Following on from the early morning loss to Germany, we knew we had to bring it against the Lithuanians. Although winless to date, they had pushed some teams hard and they have some real “ball players” as the
lads call them (including an awesome short stop who looks like he hasn’t even hit puberty yet!)

The weather today was hot hot HOT!! The groundsman was the most popular fella in the place providing us with some cold sprinkler showers while he watered the infield. Apparently these are record temperatures for Bulgaria and you know when you hear the locals complaining about the heat, that it’s bad!

Anyhoo, onto the game…We started really strong in the first inning and put 11 runs on the scoreboard with some solid base hitting which saw us go through the order plus some more. The Lithuanians had no reply,
and then we tacked on 3 and 6 runs respectively in the next two innings with the Lithuanians replying with 1 in each. Coach Dormer made a few substitutions and thoughts began to drift to a mercy in 4 innings so we could get out of the heat. Concentration started to lapse and only needing a few runs to get the mercy, we made a few errors in the field and the bats dried up for a few innings. We let the Lithuanians back in, and while the overall result was never in doubt, we ended up playing into the 6th inning which meant more time
in the searing heat. Final score was 24-9 in the 6th. Some solid hitting by Sully, Marc, Pete and Dec…and Jan represented the girls getting a massive triple!! Awesome! A dirty mention must go to Pete who rose to the challenge and slid headfirst into home (some might say unnecessarily) just so Cli would wash his white jersey…she had promised! ‘Special’ mentions must go to Dec joining the strike-out looking club and Lisa’s brain fart thinking she was base coaching while on 3rd base and bases loaded…cue confused face as she looked at Matt lumbering towards her from 2nd shouting “Lisa, you have to run!!” Obviously Sal’s Mexican roars in her ear weren’t enough!! But she did get home safely thanks to an awesome slide, and adding to her bruise count. All in all a good result, we’ll certainly learn from that one that we need to be a bit more clinical in finishing out the games.

Credit must be given to the Lithuanians here…they only have 12 players and are batting 12 in most games, and even though they are young, they must be absolutely shattered at this stage of the tournament. They
nearly all have cannons for arms (including the girls!) and here’s hoping they get a win at some stage, they deserve it.

While it was a long day yesterday, the schedule was nice and we had a game off in between each of our games. The Czechs were our last game of the day, and everyone wanted revenge from the previous tie. We felt we hadn’t given them a proper game the last time which was on the 2nd pitch in the football stadium (read: scorching concrete cauldron). We really felt we could take them on the main pitch and control their big hitters. Key to this was also shutting them the hell up….they have good team spirit and a very loud dugout which just gets louder and more annoying if they get on top in a game!

By this stage the temperature had dropped a bit, and the wind had picked up a notch. A storm had been forecast for the afternoon, but it hadn’t materialised so far. During our warm up, a few rain drops appeared and clouds started to gather. To be honest, we were perfectly happy with this….just like a softball summer back in Dublin…we know how to play in the rain, bring it on!!! The rain began to fall steadily in the first inning…away team, we went 3 up, 3 down…and the Czechs replied with 5 in the bottom of the 1st including a grand slam home run from their big hitting second baseman. The rain was pelting
down at this stage, and much to our dismay the blues suspended play while the groundsmen covered up home plate. Huddled in our dugout, we thought we might get out to resume play, but then the storm hit…we
were treated to a display of thunder, lightning and huge hailstones.

How we laughed as the wind and rain swept straight into the Czech dugout until a sudden change of wind direction meant it was us cowering at the back of our dugout. After a bit of hanging around, it finally eased off but the game was called as the infield would not dry in time. So off we went back to the hotel, and (for a change!) we all headed towards the Italian for a late dinner.

Spider Monkey Blog #3 Part 2 #4 Part 1

Day 3 – Part 2

After a very short break under the sixteen inches of shade, we took to the field against the Lithuanians. They had only 12 players and normally that would hinder a team enormously, but given the average
age was somewhere around 16 youth and energy negated the weather conditions that were felt hard by the pasty Irish. (I think our average age is 39. Sarah Nolan and Ciara keep it south of 40).

We started off well and scored 4 runs while holding the opposition to zero. But it was clear that we were not going to get anything cheaply. All these young Lithuanians had strong arms and great reactions. In
one example Declan lined the ball to left field for a base hit and before he had rounded 1B the girl in CL had ranged quickly to her left and gunned the ball in to 2B. Declan managed to hold up but only by
letting his feet fall out from underneath allowing him to land on his ass. The shortstop in particular stood out as a great young player. Snagging a sharp line drive from Matt and running the bases aggressively to score their first run.

Fortunately we started to pull away and it came to Sal to bust things open by hitting a Grand Slam HR to centre field. We also managed to hold the Lithuanians in spite of Frank’s “Statue of Liberty”
presentation of the ball to the umpire. Lying face down in LF he dramatically raised the ball to the sky. It was a routine fly ball and catch so he was duly ignored when he ran in to the dugout. But that wasn’t the end for Frank. The coach finally had enough of his antics and pulled him from the game after he called time to stretch out his hamstrings – milking it was the reason.

The game ended 16 – 1 to Ireland and we finished the day with 2 wins and a loss. The loss against the Czechs was a lesson in focus. Hopefully we can bring the level of intensity and support tomorrow when we play the next three games. Like the coach said, “Noone out-shouts the Irish”

No major injuries to report. Everyone is feeling the heat but doing enough to stay watered and fed. Spirit is still really good and we plan on making the next few days very successful!

Day Four Part 1

This guest blog is brought to you by Conrad Hotel Group; “Be our guest.” Written by Marc, but the official scorers will probably give Panda the credit. anyway

Team dinner last night in the local Italian restaurant was memorably for the lack of imagination in our order, Spaghetti Bolognese for nearly everyone. Half way through the main course and we witnessed a natural pheromone, Matt Steerman was full! Our night finished up with a quick night cap, and a certain team member was spotted in a local bar getting caressed by a local Bulgarian temptress.

Thursday started with a welcome lie-in (until 9am) and a solid warm up in the heat. We carried in plenty of momentum from yesterday’s final game, but that all out the window as Germany’s lead-off (Wolfgang –
think wolverine wannable with wicked power), smashed a HR over the centre field fence. The heat was on, the game was on and we found ourselves 5 runs behind to a plucky German side eager for revenge. Our
bats didn’t get going at all, and we went 7 up, 6 down with Frankie being the sole Irish batter to get on base in the first two innings. The coach’s plea for calmness in the box, and hit the ball hard was duly ignored by all and the Irish fell behind by 12 runs. German power hitting and inning extending errors left us on the back foot. Some exceptional play from Barry Casey in OF to pull a HR back over the fence and some not so surprising theatrics from Frankie in LF bolstered our team, as we tried to summoned a comeback.

The comeback came in the form of 6 runs in the 3rd inning, and the Germans looked rattled, solid hitting from all with Frankie & Barry lifting the ball UP UP AND AWAY over the fence. Unfortunately as we
tapped away at the lead, our chances of a comeback were dashed as they tacked on three more runs at the top of 7. Final Score Ireland 11 – Germany 15.

We’re currently sitting around hoping that Ruth Lillis actually brings back enough ice creams for the whole team this time, and not just her boyfriendtongue emoticon Lithuania are up next and win is all that will do.

Frankie is creeping me out by staring at me at the moment, I think it’s the longest period all week that I haven’t been around to entertain the on-form slugger. For fear that Frankie might having a mental breakdown I’ll go back to babysitting.