Ramstein advances to fourth straight final
Ramstein's Caleb Guerrido dodges a pitch from Lakenheath's Taylor Portman during a Friday Division I semifinal game at the DODDS European baseball championships.
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – For the fourth straight season, Ramstein will take on Patch for the European Division I baseball championship. Ramstein punched its ticket into the 1 p.m. Saturday game at Ramstein Southside by inflicting an 8-2 defeat on the Lakenheath Lancers in a Friday night semifinal. Patch defeated Heidelberg 14-7 earlier Friday to earn its spot in the finale.
Sophomore right-hander Tyler Hughes was masterful in pitching six innings of two-hit ball. Ramstein was batting in its half of the sixth when the game reached the 110-minute mark, after which no inning may begin.
“My fastball was working,” said Hughes, who struck out four and walked three. “My curve ball is my go-to-pitch. That was the game plan.”
Lakenheath starter Taylor Portman took the loss. He pitched 4 2/3rds innings, gave up eight hits, struck out four and impressed Ramstein coach Glenn Porter with his arm and his bat. Portman clubbed a solo homer to left off Hughes in the sixth.
“Portman,” Porter said, “is probably the best pitcher we’ve faced this season.”
Senior shortstop Jon Grotelueschen, who’ll be the starting pitcher in Saturday’s title game for the third straight season, led Ramstein’s batting with a double and two singles in three trips. Junior center fielder Justin Pendergrass got to Portman for a triple in four at-bats.
Porter and his second-seeded Royals, who’ll take an 18-0 record into Saturday’s finale, were beaming at the prospect of tangling with Patch again.
“It’s fun to play them,” said Porter, whose 2009 team won the first DODDS-Europe D-I title over Patch. “We match up well with them.”
Patch rebounded, however, to down Ramstein in 2010 and 2011, creating plenty of incentive for both team on Saturday in a game which will be streamed live at www.afneurope.net.
“I’m excited to be playing them,” Hughes said. “It’s a good re-match and a good rivalry.”
Said Porter, “We’ve been waiting two years for this game.”
Fourth-seeded Lakenheath, which fell to Patch 9-1 in Friday morning’s pool-play finale, completed its season 10-7. That the John Gilmore-coached Lancers finished above .500 and played Ramstein as closely as they did Friday came as no surprise to Porter, even though Ramstein swept Lakenheath 18-8 and 23-2 in March.
“John Gilmore,” Porter said, “is the best coach in Europe.”