The victorious Japan team holds up the World Cup™ following their victory over Team USA.
(Photo by Svatopluk Smysl)
JAPAN TAKES INAUGURAL MEN’S FASTPITCH WORLD CUP
Japan powered its way through the field to capture the title at the first-ever ISF Men’s Fastpitch World Cup, which concluded on Sunday at the National Softball Center in Prague, Czech Republic. Japan’s national team soared through the tournament with a 9-1 won-lost record, only losing to USA’s national team early in the tournament on day two, 4-1. The seven days of competition, June 18 – 24, were filled with action and excitement as teams experienced victories, as well as upsets, on their journey for the Cup.
USA’s national team came out strong in the beginning of the tournament and never really lost their momentum until the final games of the competition. The Americans overpowered the club teams in every matchup. In game 13, Halcones Tenerife (ESP) only put up two runs against the U.S., who had enough offense to fill up two games. USA scored the majority of their runs in the top of the fifth inning, causing the game to end due to the run-ahead rule. Similarly, USA defeated club teams Santa Isabel Zaragoza and the Prague Stars.
The Czech Republic, who finished fifth overall in the tournament (3-5), had trouble picking up wins after their initial game, which ended in victory over Halcones Tenerife (ESP). On day five, however, the host team defeated Denmark, 4-2. The Netherlands-DeMo EHS, who finished in fourth place overall (5-4), just ahead of the Czech national team, only had one loss on their record, which was to USA in their first game, until falling to Japan on day five of the tournament. They picked up a win the next day against the Prague Stars, 4-3, but were eliminated after getting shut out by Venezuela in one of the final games of the day.
The finals results seemed to be in favor of Japan’s national team capturing the World Cup. In game 38, Japan grabbed an early lead, tacking on seven runs, with a lead-off home run in the top of the third inning. USA could not recover, only managing to score two runs against their opponent. The U.S. went on to face Venezuela to vie for a chance to play in the title game. This time USA struck first, scoring two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Venezuela tied it up in the top of the third, but fell short after USA added three more runs to seal their spot in the title game against Japan.
Then, in a game shown in Czech national TV and played before almost five thousand spectators, Japan ended USA’s run for the title, shutting out the national team 2-0 in the final game, thus capturing the World Cup. USA finished second overall, while Venezuela took the Bronze.
This Fastpitch World Cup was another initiative by the ISF to promote men’s softball. In addition to the Men’s World Championship, which is held every four years, the ISF held the 1st Men’s Commonwealth Softball Championship last year in Melbourne, Australia.