Game: Ireland v Finland
Tournament: European Championships
Game type: European Championships - first game in group section
Venue: Regensberg, Germany
Irish starter: Brendan Bergerson
Excerpt from my book on Irish Baseball
Game one of the 2004 European Championships for Ireland was another encounter with our old nemesis, Finland. The Finns had beaten us in Croatia in 2000 and then we had beaten them in a 10-9 thriller in Sweden in 2002. They are a solid team but word came through that two of their starting pitchers had refused to travel with the team for unknown reasons. They did not seem really ready for the game. We sent Brendan Bergerson to the mound for his first ever appearance in the Irish jersey and the kid from West Virginia College did not disappoint, He was simply overpowering.
In the first inning he toyed with them.
Finland - inning 1
Salemperae struck out. Liiri struck out. Kurvinen walked. Kurvinen out at
second p to 1b to ss, caught stealing
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.
In the second inning he annihilated them:
Finland - inning 2
Korhonen struck out. Vartiainen struck out. Miettinen struck out. 0 runs,
0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.
The mood in the dugout was giddy as we watched Brendan just brush the Finnish batters aside, reaching as high as an incredible 93mph on the radar with his fastball. Ireland’s first inning at the plate was the stuff of dreams.
Gareth Donnelly led off, walked and promptly stole second. Darran O’Connor walked and John Dillon was hit by a pitch. Up walked Joe Kealty and he launched an enormous bomb to right field over the fence and far, far away to give us a 4-0 lead with no outs. The dugout went mental. A grand slam in the first inning of our first game. Finland were suitably stunned. Unbelievably the next two batters, Kevin Foy and Pat ‘the bat’ Nolan doubled and by the time ex Irish league star Janne Vartiainen, who played in Dublin with the BlackSox, came in and ended the inning for Finland the score was 6-0. The game was pretty much over.
Brendan struck out nine in only five innings and was followed by Eoin O’Connor and Niall Rowen, the Finns never got into a groove whilst we piled on run after run. The final score, Ireland 25 Finland 5.
As I sat there taking it all in I know how JD, Darran, Sean and others who had been around since day one felt. Finally we were the ones dishing out the beating. We were the ones who had scored over twenty runs. And now we were the only team in this tournament that the favourites and hosts Germany were actually afraid of. It turns out their entire coaching staff were at the game, scouting our players. We had arrived and we had arrived in style.
Coming soon! Game number 6!
7. Ireland v Finland European Championships 2004
8. Ireland v Slocum Baseball Club RI - Rhode Island tour 2001
9. Ireland v Lithuania - Stockholm 2002
10. Ireland v Serbia-Montenegro - Germany 2004