With the postseason just days away, Saturday’s DODDS-Europe Division I championship baseball rematch between the Ramstein Royals and Patch Panthers ended in the most appropriate way possible: inconclusively.
The two titans of European baseball played to a draw Saturday at Stuttgart. The host Panthers earned a 9-6 extra-inning win in the opener, while the defending champion Royals answered with a 4-2 win in the nightcap.
Parker Boyle hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to snap a 6-6 tie and deliver the opening game to Patch. In an equally encouraging sign for their championship hopes, the Panthers didn’t commit a single fielding error in the game.
The previously-unbeaten Royals struck back in the nightcap behind a pitching gem by Jonny Oswald. The Ramstein ace struck out five over seven innings of three-hit ball. He helped his own cause with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate, and teammate Robert Navarro launched a solo home run as the Royals produced just enough offense for the win.
Ramstein and Patch have played for the European Division I championship every year since the sport’s founding in 2009, with Patch winning three and Ramstein winning two, including last year’s title.
Ramstein 16/18, AFNORTH 1/4: Friday at Ramstein, the Royals geared up for their showdown with Patch with a sweep of the overmatched but game Lions.
Ramstein pitcher Spencer Woller shut down the Lions in the opener, scattering three hits and seven strikeouts across three innings of work.
Navarro launched a grand slam to punctuate the Royals’ efforts at the plate.
Lions standout Trent Weldon held his own in the nightcap, yielding three earned runs and striking out five across four innings while adding two hits and three runs scored on offense before the deep Royals pressed the issue.
Ansbach 11/17, Hohenfels 4/5: Friday at Hohenfels, Cougars stars Bailey Ward and Austin Benton fueled an impressive sweep for the visitors.
Ward pitched the full seven innings in the opener and struck out nine Tigers, while Benton went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. The pair starred at the plate again in the late game, notching two hits and three runs each in support of winning pitcher Brandon Piccinini.
Vicenza 13/13, Aviano 4/4: Saturday at Aviano, the visiting Cougars handed the Saints a pair of defeats.
Vicenza, which fell to Naples in last year’s Division II European title game, will finish the regular season as the No. 2 team from the South Region behind the Wildcats. Aviano hasn't won this season.
SHAPE 9/5, Lakenheath 6/8: Saturday at Mons, Belgium, the Division II Spartans and Division I Lancers played to a doubleheader draw.
SHAPE ace Clay Coon scattered three hits across four innings while striking out seven and yielding no earned runs to give the Spartans an opening win. Sam Matice went 3-for-3 with three RBIs to lead the offense.
Ben Ciero responded in the nightcap with a five-strikeout winning effort over three-plus innings. Matt Brinker starred at the plate for the Lancers with a 2-for-4 effort that included a double.
The Spartans went a combined 3-for-3 against Division I opposition this spring, including a sweep of Kaiserslautern on May 2.