RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - The Naples Wildcats came into the 2014 DODDS European Division II baseball tournament as heavy favorites to win it all, but the Vicenza Cougars quietly won all their games and had some observers questioning that assumption.
It only took the first half of the opening inning for the Wildcats to prove why they were favored, though.
Naples took an early 2-0 lead and never looked back, ultimately winning the finale 11-4 and extending their win streak to 33 games.
“We all know that eventually the streak is going to end,” said assistant coach Ron Zimmerman. “But it wasn’t going to happen today.”
The game was just as much a test of resolve and endurance as it was a test of athletic skill. Both Naples and Vicenza had to defeat opponents earlier in the day to advance, and the early games took their toll on both teams.
Vicenza’s starting pitcher, Tyess Chatman was pulled out early in favor of Louis Veasey, who finished the game. Neither was able to match the laser focus of Naples starter Robert Dromerhauser, who was credited with 11 strikeouts.
“I ran into some hard moments early on, but I was able to work through them because of the great defense behind me,” he said. “I was just hoping I could pitch the whole game for them. I wish I could have done a bit more. It’s been a long day, but it was worth it.”
That defense kept the Cougar offense in check, but the Wildcats’ offense was nothing to sneeze at, as they were able to put up 11 runs.
Sam Murdock had three RBIs, Josh Hensy had two and nearly every member of the team had a hit.
Coach Duke Marlow said the team played the type of game they’ve been practicing for all year.
“We put a lot of time into this, we worked hard, we demand a lot,” he said. “Last year there were a lot of mistakes and throwing errors and this year they reduced those, so it gave us a chance to win some of these types of games.”
Vicenza didn’t lose a game this season outside of five defeats to Naples.
Coach Mark Wilson said the team fell short of its goal, but much of that was due to the Wildcats.
“Coach Duke Marlow deserves coach of the year, because he took some players that were good players, but not great players and he turned them into great players,” Wilson said. “They deserve this championship.”