Baseball rookie in silver debut

HAARLEM, Netherlands (Reuters) – The Netherlands held on to their title of European baseball champions after beating surprise finalists Greece 2-0 on Saturday. Greece, with hardly any baseball history, are building up a side for the Olympics next year. [The silver medal will allow Greece to take part in the 2005 World Championship. As host, it will play in the 2004 Olympics automatically. «We will work on our small mistakes… We will improve our already very good team and will aim high for the Athens Olympics,» said Panayiotis Mitsiopoulos, chairman of the Greek baseball federation.] Greek coach, American Robert Derksen, poached ex-major league, minor and independent league players with Greek ancestry to build a team that could challenge traditional European baseball heavyweights Italy and the Netherlands. Of Greece’s 24 players, only two come from domestic competition that was set up in the runup to the Olympics. Some of their players have never been to Greece and these finals were their first visit to Europe.

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