Czechs Upset the Aussies for Fifth Place; Cervenka Stars

The tournament did not start well for the Czechs. They lost their first three games and playing with the Big Six did not seem likely, until New Zealand lost a 1-0 lead in the ninth to backdoor them in. It ended well for them as they were celebrating their fifth place finish after coming back from a 4-0 deficit to win 6-5, just like the tournament, pulling themselves out from a ditch to pull out a victory.

The Aussies looked to be in control of the game from the start. They scored a run in the second after an error by the shortstop with two outs extended the inning. James Phillibossian lined a single to center to score the first run. Another run was scored in the third after a double by Guy Edmonds and a sacrifice fly to left from Robbie Perkins upped the ante to 2-0. Starting pitcher Marek Cervenka had put the first runner on in each inning with a walk and hit batsman.

After the first two hitters struck out in the fourth the Aussies struck for two more. Jared Cruz singled and Phillibossian coaxed a walk. Jacob Younis, who drove in four runs yesterday in a tough loss that prevented Australia from playing for third, roped a double over the head of the rightfielder to score two. It was now 4-0 Australia.

It was now time for Martin Cervenka to become a hero. Aaron Thompson had shut out the Czechs for the first five innings, not allowing a runner to advance past first base. A leadoff walk to Jakob Ondracek and a bunt down the third baseline that Adam Hajtmar beat out for a single put two runners on. That brought up Martin Cervenka, who seemed to be the big hitter for the Czechs in this tournament. He came up big again gapping one into leftcenter to drive in the first run. The Czechs scored their second run in the inning on a grounder to second.

Thompson was replaced by Lachlan Madden to begin the seventh. He walked the leadoff hitter Ivan Aubrecht, but got the next two hitters out. Jakob Ondracek kept the inning alive by dragging a bunt down the third base line, the second time in the tournament myworld saw him leg out a two out bunt. Petr Sila looped a single over second base to drive in one run. A walk to Adam Hajtmar loaded the bases for Cervenka. He came through again slapping the first pitch into right field for a two run single to put the Czechs up 5-4.

The Aussies came back to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. An RBI double by Robbie Perkins that one hopped the wall drove in the tying run. That ended the day for Marek Cervenka, who is a year and five months older than Martin. Jan Tomek replaced Cervenka and kept the game tied 5-5.

Both teams saw rallies die in the eighth. The Czechs had runners on second and third with two out but failed to score. The Aussies loaded the bases with one out but a nice diving stab by Jakob Ondracek and his throw home got the second out. A grounder to short recorded the third out.

In the ninth Petr Sila drew a one out walk. He tried to advance to third after a single from Hajtmar, but a one hop throw from Phillibossian nailed him at third. It appeared to be another opportunity lost. The Czechs never gave up. Hajtmar stole second. Instead of walking Martin Cervenka with first base open the Aussies pitched to him. He pulled a 2-2 pitch into centerfield for a single. Hajtmar raced home, scoring when the throw from the leftfielder was off line.

The Aussies still had a chance in the bottom half. Ben Leslie drew a leadoff walk. Aaron Sayers pinch hit and hit one back to the pitcher for a nicely turned 1-6-3 double play by Tomek. After Jared Cruz struck out the Czechs raced to the mound as if they had won the championship. It is too bad only five or six Czech fans were in the stands to witness the celebration of victory.

Game Notes: There was a $200 NT admission to Taichung Field to watch the battle for fifth. That is the equivalent of about $7 dollars. The admission limited the crowd of the curious young people who attended the school adjacent to the field and watched the game…There were also a handful of Aussies at the game, including the administrator of the Aussie baseball program. With Ondracek up in the eight myworld was tempted to walk over to him and tell him he better tell his thirdbaseman to watch for the bunt. With the count 3-1 Ondracek laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line, easily beating the throw to first.

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