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.