Ireland got off to a quick start in the 18U European B-Pool Championship Qualifying Tournament, dismantling the Belgian Junior National Team by a score of 18-3.

Left fielder Conor Nicholson led the Irish by going 5 for 6 with three doubles, two stolen bases, and four runs scored. Meanwhile, starting pitcher Kyle Brady scattered seven hits across seven innings.

Ireland jumped out to an early lead in the top of the 1st inning when Nicholson doubled to right centerfield. Nicholson eventually advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on another passed ball.

Belgium starting pitcher Nicolas Joosens went 3 innings, scattering five hits and five walks and left the game trailing 3-0.

Belgium got on the scoreboard in the fourth inning when LF Tom Vanderborght singled and eventually scored on a fielder’s choice.

The Belgian bullpen held the Irish to two hits and one run in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. Entering the top of the 8th inning, Ireland led 4-1.

The eighth inning proved to be the Irish inning as Ireland posted 13 runs. Irish pitcher Patrick Carey closed out the game in the bottom of the 8th.

The game was the first in the 18U division for Ireland. The Irish national baseball team program has participated in the men’s senior division since 1996.

The win all but clinched a place in Saturday’s gold medal game, but Ireland still had to play Russia. Although the game had no effect on Ireland’s chances to play in the medal game, Russia still had something to play for…