The Austrian U-23 National Team arrived in Monterrey (MEX) late at night on the 21st of October. The team already held its first practice session and an exhibition game against Mexico, in order to prepare for the U-23 World Cup 2016 in Monterrey.
Austria had the honor to play the host of the U-23 Baseball World Cup today. It was their first of three preparation games in Mexico before the championship starts on Friday the 28th. For the next two days additional games and workouts are planned.
Austria started with three groundouts against the Mexican southpaw, Oman Basulto, but made good contact against his pitches. Felix Zimmerle got the ball for this exhibition game and tried to challenge the Mexican hitters from the very beginning. Their right fielder had a good approach starting off their offense with a hit. Zimmerle forced three consecutive ground outs, but Austria´s defense only managed to record one out, letting Mexico score first.
The hard throwing Mexican Basulto didn´t make the Austrian Pitchers look good and brought his team back to the dugout quickly. After the game he would say, their batters were competing well. They kept fighting and gave him some work to do.
With the first batter Zimmerle faced in the second, the audience already started cheering, but Richard Alzinger in deep left field caught the ball out of the air for the first out. The second out was recorded quickly with a strike out, followed by another error by the defense, that could have retired the Mexican hitters in order. Zimmerle took another hit by the lead-off hitter Aratza followed by a ground-rule double, which scored the 0:2. Another hit just passed the pitcher`s glove and scored the other two base runners. The inning finally found an end after a fly out in left field, but Austria was trailing by 4.
Claus Seiser could record the first hit against Mexico, shooting the ball down the left field line for a double. Raffi Mayr put some pressure on the defense with a ground ball to the third base man, who couldn´t get the ball under controll and allowed Mayr to advance to second. The next three batters had the table set for the first run in red and white, but didnt manage to do so.
Rafael Mayr At-Bat - Foto: ABF
The Mexican Lineup started to have better contact against Zimmerle, who blocked a come-backer to get the first out, but soon had runners on first and second. On a 3-1 count Gabriel Gomez got a piece of it, hitting the ball over the left field fence for a 3-run-homerun. Mexico already lead 7:0 when Amin Many caught the next two line-drives to end the inning.
Rafael Martinez was next on the mound for Mexico. He introduced himself with a strike out, but Richard Alzinger returned the favor, recording his first hit of the game, hitting the ball through the left side.
Lukas Bickel was reliefing for Zimmerle. On some pitches he wasn´t in full control of his stuff, letting a pair of runners on base. Eventually he stayed strong and finished the inning without another run for Mexico. In the second inning of his outing he became even better, recording a 1-2-3 frame.
Jan Alteneder worked a walk to lead off the 6th Inning. Marc Seidl was up next. The youngster from the Stock City Cubs took a big swing and hit a long drive over the left field fence for a homerun. Austria´s first two runs were driven-in and the score was now 7:2. Alzinger also followed with a hit against Pitcher Martinez who was now struggling with command. His catcher helped him out when he caught Alzinger trying to steal second for the final out of the inning. When Schütz came in in the bottom inning, the Mexicans caught him of guard and after a hit and a homerun they got their runs back. 9:2.
Marc Seidl hit a 2-run homerun against Mexico - Foto: ABF
Pedro Herrera was now pitching for the home team. Catcher Proksch welcomed him with a broken-bat single. Seiser got on through a fielder´s choice, but Raffi Mayr was able to advance the runners through a walk. Amin Mani laid down a perfect bunt that loaded up the bases for Jan Alteneder, who hit the ball through the left side for another run. Felix Zimmerle re-entered the game as the new first base man for Austria and was hit by a ball on the first pitch. After Ferdi Obed could launch a ball to deep center, Mani could score on a sac fly. Sammy Hackl came up with another great at-bat, winning it with an opposite line drive that scored Obed. Also Alzinger could add a hit and a run, before the offensive inning came finally to an end, after Jose Quinonos retired Claus Seiser, who was the 11th batter of the inning.
After three runs in the 7th, the new score was 9:7. Severin Schütz now had better command. The first two batters were retired when head coach Sakanshi saw enough for today. Marc Seidl was now sent to the hill and got the batter to pop-out to left.
Trailing only by two runs, Austria´s offense couldn´t follow-up to their last break-out inning. Three strikeouts in a row ended Austria´s dream of a win against the U-23 World Cup host.
Team Austria in the Dugout - Foto: ABF
Despite the loss, the game was another great chance to prepare for the World Cup debut against Australia on Friday. Skipper Sakanashi saw some things to improve on defense and on the pitcher´s off-speed stuff, but was very happy how his hitters handled the opposing pitcher, especially in the late innings.
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