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Confederation of European Baseball

Friday, March 07, 2014

The Spanish Baseball Academy Wins the Valencia “Early Bird” Tournament

The Spanish Baseball Academy have won the first edition of the Valencia “Early Bird” tournament this past weekend. This tournament was organized by the Valencia Astros Baseball club headed by Juan Garcia-Puig and sponsored by the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

CEB president, Jan Esselman, and Spanish Federation president, Julio Pernas, along with the representatives of the City, Region and State of Valencia offered showed their full support of this tournament with their presence at the games.

The final began with a bit of delay, due to the close game between France and Italy for bronze.  The Italian squad would end up winning with a final 14-10 score.

The final got underway between the Academies of Germany and Spain at 1:00 pm.  The championship game was expected to be a pitchers duel between two young and talented pitchers, Eric Paez for Spain and Misja Harcksen for the German Academy.  The latter, who, despite his age, can reach 90 mph with his fastball, has been recently signed by the LA Dodgers.  Nevertheless, the Spanish hitters were successful from the start as the two first batters –Martinez and Velázquez- drew walks and the three-hole hitter, Ivan Alba drove in the first run with a hit to RF.  A fielder’s choice by Suris would later drive in the second run of the inning for Team Spain.

Paez kept the German batters off balance, pitching 7 shutout innings.  He was backed by a very talented defense that offered a wide display of spectacular plays making them seem routine.

Team Spain would score four more runs in the third inning.  The rally started with a leadoff single by Martinez, followed by an RBI triple by Velazquez.  Alba would follow with his second RBI hit of the game.  Sarduy would follow with a base on balls.  The next hitter, Suris, hit a run-scoring double-play ground ball. The German team put in their star pitcher in this inning –Schuller- another Dodger signee, who lit up the radar gun to 92 mph, quite a feat at this time of the season

The game would remain scoreless until the seventh inning, in which the starting pitcher for Spain would be substituted by Valera. The Germans made the most of this change by starting a rally with two consecutive walks and a hit to score a run.  The Team Spain manager reacted by placing a new pitcher, Izquierdo, on the mound.  He shut the door by striking out 4 batters in the inning and two thirds he was on the mound.

In the bottom of the inning, the Spanish offense went back to work.  Sarduy reached first base on a HBP.  He advanced to second thanks to a hit by Suris and would later score on an error by the German shortstop on a groundball by Rodriguez.  At the end of the inning, the scoreboard showed a 7 to 1 score, which would be the final score of the game.

Team Spain General Manager Mauro Mazzotti commented:  "After breaking the ice in the first game, we played very well in the three vital aspects of baseball: hitting, defense and pitching.  The fact that we have been able to compete successfully against the leading baseball academies of Europe, is very important for us because they have more youth development programs than we do, up to now.  In any case, we have shown that we are on track and we hope to continue this work in the future."

The organization of this tournament was exceptional.  The participants felt the support of the representatives of the Los Angeles Dodgers, sponsors of this highly successful tournament, and the many volunteers of the tournament made sure that each and every small detail was taken care of.

The Spaniard, Eric Paez, received the “Outstanding Pitcher” award and the German CF, Pascal Amon, was the "MVP" of the tournament.

After the closing ceremony, all the participants, the many scouts present at the tournament, CEB President Jan Esselman, the LA Dodgers Vice President Bob Engle and government officials all agreed that, with the permission of MLB, it would be extraordinary for the development of the game in Europe if the continental baseball season could start every year with this tournament in the mild weather of sunny Valencia. 

Final results:

Video Link:

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