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Great Britain has big day, eliminates Czechs

REG View Full Game Coverage ENSBURG, Germany -- B.J. Hubbert paced the Great Britain offense and Jacob Esch pitched six quality innings in a 12-5 victory over the Czech Republic on Saturday to stay alive in the World Baseball Classic qualifier.

Hubbert reached base four times with a home run, single and two walks. He also scored three runs and had three RBIs. Aeden McQueary drove in three runs with two hits and Albert Cartwright added three hits and two runs for Great Britain.

Esch, a right-hander in the Marlins' Minor League system, allowed two earned runs on five hits over six innings with three strikeouts to get the win.

"I thought our bats came alive and we had excellent starting pitching to get us rolling," said Great Britain manager Sam Dempster. "[Esch] saved a couple of runs as well with his great defense." "We got an early lead and that helped," said Esch. "I got ahead with the fastball and let them put the ball into play. I just wanted to use my defense."

Jan Blazek took the loss for the Czechs, who were eliminated from the tournament despite Mike Cervenak collecting three hits, one run and an RBI. Teammate Jakub Malik also had three hits.

"We came here with the hopes of playing good baseball and seeing how we stack up against these teams," said Czech manager Andrew Berglund. "The last two games were really an extreme challenge. I'm very proud of how [our team] competed. It showed that we still have a long way to go."

Great Britain will face the loser of Saturday's Germany-Canada game in an elimination game on Sunday.

After a 45-minute rain delay, Great Britain jumped ahead right away in the first inning with three runs.

Blazek struggled with his control early, allowing two hits and hitting a batter to load the bases. He then balked home a runner before McQueary singled just out of the reach of shortstop Martin Schneider to drive in Steven Bumbry and Hubbert. The Czech defense then picked up Blazek, as center fielder Matej Hejma threw out Sam Wiley at third to end the inning.

Great Britain added three more runs in the third inning to increase its lead to 6-0. Blazek walked Hubbert and hit Chris Berset with a pitch, setting up Wiley's single to left, which knocked in Hubbert, and McQueary's RBI double to right chased Blazek.

Houston Astros Minor Leaguer Alex Sogard came on and struck out Richard Klijn, but catcher Petr Cech's passed ball allowed McQueary to score.

The Czechs responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the third, as Berglund's team strung together three straight two-out hits. Jakub Hajtmar singled and scored on Cervenak's double over center fielder Antoan Richardson's head. Cervenak crossed the plate on Malik's single back up the middle to make it 6-2.

Great Britain added another run in the fourth, as Hubbert drove in Cartwright on a single to make it 7-2.

Great Britain's bats remained hot and added three more runs in the seventh to push the lead to 10-2. Hubbert hit a solo homer to right-center and pinch-hitter Matt Roxburgh knocked in a run with a double. The third run was scored on a wild pitch by Marek Minarik -- the fourth wild pitch or passed ball by the Czechs in the game.

The Czechs fought back for two runs in the bottom of the seventh. An error by Great Britain second baseman Klijn allowed one run to score, and the Czechs were able to get one more run on a passed ball to make it 10-4.

However, Great Britain answered with another two runs in the top of the eighth, with Hubbert grounding out to score Cartwright, who had singled. Berset doubled to drive in Bumbry for a 12-4 lead.

Czech Republic trimmed the deficit to 12-5 on a Schneider single in the eighth to drive in Matej Hejma.

Great Britain