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CHALLENGERS NEWSLETTER 19/2013
LAST NIGHTGAMES AHEAD
Diese Woche stehen gleich zwei Nightgames für die NLA auf dem Programm. Heute Abend erwarten die C's zunächst die Mustangs aus Embrach im Heerenschürli. Am Samstag steht zuerst die NLB mit einem Double-Header gegen die Bandits im Einsatz, gefolgt vom letzten NLA-Nightgame der Saison gegen die Lions.
RECAP
NO PARTY AT THE BALLPARK FOR THE CHALLENGERS
Saturday August 10, 2013 - by Chris PalatinusPhoto Album
The Challengers lost twice against their local rivals Zurich Barracudas on Saturday, August 10. While the Streetparade rocked the city of Zurich, there was no reason to celebrate for the Challengers at the Heerenschürli ballpark, as the C's extended their losing streak to six games.
Game 1 Recap - Game 2 Recap
THREE IN A ROW...AND THEN D'OH!!
Sunday August 11, 2013 - by Alex Gordon
Fresh off a sweep of the Barracudas, the Challengers looked to continue their winning ways against the Therwil Flyers. While the Flyers had swept the first two games in Therwil, those victories had been aided by the presence of several NLA regulars who were no longer eligible to play NLB games (yes the Challengers also had some NLA players for those games as well, but don't change the topic). As a result, there was reason to believe that the Challengers would have a better chance this time around.
 

As has been their habit of late, the Challengers got off to a slow start, falling behind 2-0 early on two hits and an error. Kurt Kovac helped the home team get a run back in the bottom of the first, singling to lead off, and then reaching third on an errant pick-off attempt, before ultimately scoring on an RBI ground-out by Alex Gordon. But the Flyers came right back with 2 more in the top of the second, touching Challengers' starter Dean Scherbaum for 3 straight singles (although two of them were little bloops), and taking advantage of a wild pitch. Once again, Kovac helped bring the Challengers back, this time with a bases loaded, 2-RBI single, which scored Nick Lehmann and Oli Christen.

After Scherbaum pitched a scoreless third, the Challengers were poised to take the lead. After Gordon led off with a walk, and Renzo Falcone singled, Carlos Nepomuceno drew a walk to load the bases with no one out. Adderly Sarmiento followed with a flair towards left-center that the Flyers' shortstop was able to track down, holding the runners in place. Lehmann then followed with a lined shot towards the gap in left, but again the Flyers' shortstop was there, making a remarkable catch, and doubling off Gordon from third. The Challengers were left shaking their collective heads - unable to score even once despite having the bases loaded and no outs. Things got worse for the Challengers in the top of the fourth. After Scherbaum retired the first batter, the next four batters reached and scored, making it 8-3 Flyers. Three errors in the inning - giving the Challengers a total of 6 for the game at that point - certainly didn't help.  

There's an old saying that "it is always darkest before the dawn." I don't know who said that, but it certainly applied to the bottom of the 4th inning, as the Challengers scored a whopping 11 runs in the frame. Here's how it went down: Christen got things started by reaching on a throwing error. With one out, Kovac and Yusuke Azuma both reached on fielding errors, the second of which allowed Christen to score. After Gordon drew a walk to load the bases, Falcone singled to score Kovac. Nepomuceno was hit by a pitch, forcing in Azuma, and leading to a Flyers' pitching change . . . which didn't help. A wild pitch allowed Gordon to score, and then Sarmiento singled to drive in Falcone. After Lehmann walked, the Flyers changed pitchers again...and again it didn't help. Well ok, at first it did, as Christen was called out on strikes for the second out. But then Scherbaum walked, bringing in Nepomuceno, Kovac walked, forcing in Sarmiento, and a wild pitch allowed Lehmann to score as well. Azuma walked, loading the bases, and then Gordon drew his second walk of the inning, which brought in Scherbaum from third. Finally, Falcone drove a double down the line in left, driving in two and sending Gordon to third. By the time Nepomuceno was retired on a grounder to third, 11 runs had crossed the plate. Not bad for half an inning's work!

Christen came on in relief in the top of the 5th, and set the Flyers down in order. In the bottom of the inning the Challengers got right back to business: Three straight walks loaded the bases with no outs, but after a strikeout and a force play at home, the Challengers were once again at risk of failing to take advantage of a bases loaded - no outs situation. But this time, the Challengers cashed in: After a wild pitch allowed Lehmann to score, Azuma drove a 2-RBI single to left, making it 17-8 Challengers.

Despite having a 9 run lead heading into the top of the 7th, the Challengers decided it would be "fun" to add a little drama to the situation. The first batter lifted an easy pop-fly behind the pitcher's mound...that fell for a single when no one in the infield took charge. After the next batter struck out, Christen gave up a single putting runners on first and second, and bring up the top of the Flyers' order. Oli got another strike out, bringing the Challengers within one out of victory. But then the next batter singled, driving in two, and making the score 17-10. With the number 3 hitter at the plate, Christen induced a ground ball to short, and the game appeared to be over. In fact, Christen even gave his trade-mark primal bellow and started to run off the mound. Astoundingly, however, the home-plate umpire - after about a 25 minute delay (all numbers approximate) - ruled that first-baseman Gordon's foot had come off the bag, and the runner was safe (sure felt like my toe was on the base to me, but whatever...I'd rather be in the outfield anyway!). After a walk and two singles, it was 17-13 Challengers, and the situation was starting to get tense. Fortunately, the next batter lifted a weak pop towards first that Christen ran over and caught to end the game. Even better than the catch was Christen punctuating the play by screaming something unprintable and then throwing the ball as hard as he could against the fence next to the Challengers' dugout. It's worth noting that three of this season's top moments have involved people throwing things towards foul territory while yelling something either obscene, unintelligible, or a combination of both, and two of those moments came against the Flyers. With the victory the Challengers extended their winning streak to three, and sent Scherbaum off a winner in his last start before his world-tour. Good times.

Speaking of good times, the second game was definitely not. After sending a parade of pitchers who couldn't find the strike-zone with a GPS, the Flyers started coach Andy Fleischacker in Game 2, who seemed as if he couldn't miss the strike-zone even if he tried. On their part, the Challengers displayed little energy and even less hustle, managing only 3 base runners through the first five innings. Starter Kovac was solid, but was undone by atrocious defense and no run support. The C's managed to push across one run in the 6th to avoid the shutout, but it was not nearly enough. The final score was 6-1, but it felt more like 106-1 to be honest. Nonetheless, taking three out of the last four games against the Barracudas and the Flyers is not too shabby. Plus that whole thing with Oli throwing the ball was pretty awesome, I'm not going to lie.
SO NICE WE DID IT TWICE: CHALLENGERS RIDE THE LIGHTNING PAST BARRACUDAS FOR SWEEP
Tuesday August 6, 2013 - by Alex Gordon
It looked for awhile like the Tuesday (6 August) night game between the Challengers and the Barracudas was going to be a wash-out. For about 30 minutes, thunder-storms pummeled the field with rain, while lightning flashed ominously overhead. Making matters worse, the tarps that normally cover the bases seemed to have disappeared, thus allowing water to pool around the infield dirt. Nonetheless, when the rain finally let up, the field quickly drained and the teams were able to begin play.

On the mound for the 'Cudas was former Challenger Ueli von Burg, bravely toughing out the effects of a broken pinkie-toe. I had personally been hoping that von Burg's injured small toe would keep him from pitching, since his array of breaking balls held huge potential for making Challenger batters look silly. Given that the other 'Cuda pitchers had combined to drill me with pitches three times in the last game, I wasn't complaining. At least about that.

Right before lead-off hitter Kurt Kovac headed to the plate, coach Rob Sedin called me over: Rob: "If Kurt gets on, I want you to bunt for a hit." Me: "Oh man, really? Are you sure?" Rob: "Yep, just bunt for a hit."

Easier said than done, especially for someone, such as myself, who is craptacular at bunting. Sure enough, I managed to bunt the ball straight up into the air behind the plate. Not only was the ball caught for an out by the catcher, but Kovac was doubled off first. As I stomped back to the dugout while unleashing a slew of profanity, teammates quickly scurried out of the way (I had a bat in my hand and a murderous glare in my eye). I was still stomping around and cursing in the bottom of the inning, until left-fielder Michel Romang finally shouted at me to calm down and focus on the game (solid call).

The Challengers drew first blood in the top of the second. After Carlos "Danger" Nepomuceno led off with a walk, Oliver Bernet reached second on the shortstop's errant throw to first (Nepomuceno was forced at second). Bernet took third on a beautifully executed bunt by Dean Scherbaum ("glad someone knows how to do it!" I yelled), before scoring on a wild pitch. The 'Cudas got the run back in the bottom of the inning, however, and it was 1-1 heading into the third.

By this time, I was feeling slightly guilty about my earlier sulky behavior. That led to this exchange: Me "Hey Rob...sorry about sulking before. I guess I should probably practice bunting more before I do it in a game." Rob "Are you saying you can't bunt?" Me "Well I can bunt, just not necessarily properly." Rob "So you're saying that you can hit a baseball, but you can't bunt a baseball." Me "Well I BELIEVE I can hit a baseball...maybe my belief is misplaced though." Rob "That's weird."

With two outs, Kovac singled and then stole second, providing me with my first opportunity to test my belief that I can hit a baseball without being able to properly bunt a baseball. Working in my favor was the presence of Eidrys Reyes, who was excitedly yelling instructions from his position in the third-base coaching box. Reyes and I have a strange relationship when it comes to baseball, as it seems that I'm only capable of hitting when he's present. It's sort of like that character from the movie "Mystery Men" who can turn invisible, but only when no one else is looking (wait, no one else on the team saw that movie but me? The pop-culture gap between me and Switzerland is killing me). With the count 2-0, von Burg fired a low fastball over the outside corner, and I drove it into left-field, scoring Kovac from second. It's always great when Reyes is there!

The Challengers made it 4-2 in the top of the fourth: After Nepomuceno reached on an error leading off (and breaking his brand-new wood bat in the process), he stole second before reaching third and then scoring on two consecutive wild pitches. For some reason, while trying to score from third, Carlos decided not to slide, despite the close nature of the play. At first I thought it was because he didn't want to get his pants dirty, but since he'd already gotten them dirty stealing second, there had to have been another explanation (I still don't know what it was though). Unfortunately for the Barracudas, Nepomuceno arrived at the plate at the same time as von Burg, who was covering the throw. In the subsequent collision, the runner's knee soundly defeated the pitcher's arm, which was extended out for the tag. Despite suffering a dislocated shoulder, von Burg was able to continue after a teammate popped the shoulder back into place (gross!!).

It was 3-1 Challengers going into the bottom of the 4th, when starter Kovac, who had been cruising, ran into a bit of trouble. After a lead-off walk and a stolen base, Kovac struck out the next batter, but the ball got away from catcher Nick Lehmann, and the runner was able to advance to third (the batter was thrown out at first). The next batter singled - driving in a run - stole second, and then took third on a ground out. That brought up the top of the order - and a pinch hitter for von Burg. That batter singled as well, tying the score, but was then picked off by Kovac to end the inning.

In the ultimate instance of a pitcher "helping out his own cause", Kovac took matters into his own hands to put the Challengers back in front, smashing a double to left, and then scoring on a throwing error by the shortstop. Gordon followed with a walk and a steal, and after a single and steal by Renzo Falcone, the Challengers had runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Consecutive RBI ground-outs by Nepomuceno and Bernet scored Gordon and Falcone respectively, and made it 6-3 Challengers.

For the sake of completeness I thought I'd mention that the umpiring crew for this game consisted of the same two gentlemen who umpired the previous week's game, and, as had occurred in that first game, the duo were subject to a bit of verbal abuse as a result of some head-scratching calls (although there were no ejections this time). With two outs in the bottom of the 5th, the Barracuda batter reached on an error, and then attempted to steal second. From my vantage point in center, I can tell you that he appeared to be out by a good foot or so. Apparently the umpire's vantage point led him to a different conclusion, because he called the runner safe. On the next pitch, the runner attempted to steal third. From my vantage point in center, it sure seemed to me that he was safe by a fairly wide margin. Once again, the umpire had a different opinion, calling the runner out, much to the dismay of the Barracuda's third-base coach, who offered the not-so-convincing argument of "Oh my god, he was SO safe!!!" (which was true, but he was also "so out" at second...so it kind've evened out I'd say).

The Challengers broke the game open in the top of the 6th, taking advantage of erratic pitching and sloppy fielding by their opponents. After Lehmann and Gregg Zingg reached on consecutive singles,the runners advanced on a passed ball. Then high comedy ensued: With Danny Strolz batting, and the count 2-1, the pitcher unleashed a wild pitch that went all the way to the backstop. For some reason, perhaps due to chronically sore knees, Lehmann didn't move from third. Strolz, however, perhaps thinking that the shouts of "go go!!" were intended for him rather than Lehmann, took off towards first at full speed. The only problem was that the pitch was ball 3, which meant that he was not actually allowed to run to first, and had to go back to the batter's box to continue his at bat. You can't make this stuff up.

Subsequently, Strolz reached on an infield single, which scored Lehmann - who arrived with a dramatic, knees-first belly flop (we seriously need to practice sliding as a team) - and sent Zingg to third. After Strolz was thrown out trying to steal second (primarily because he didn't attempt to slide - I cannot tell you why not), Kovac walked and stole second, bringing Gordon to the plate.

After three straight balls, I watched a pitch sail a good foot and a half outside the strike zone for an apparent ball four. As I tossed my bat aside, and headed towards first, I heard the umpire say "strike." I stopped at stared at him in stunned disbelief, before picking up the bat and heading back into the box. Of course, the next pitch drilled me in the back, just a few inches away from where I'd gotten plunked the last game. Of course it did.

After Zingg scored and the other runners advanced on a passed ball, Falcone walked to load the bases. A single by Nepomuceno scored Kovac and Gordon, and Falcone scored two pitches later on a passed ball. Finally, Nepomuceno also scored -- but to be honest I'm not sure how. All I know is that I heard someone shouting and Carlos was crossing the plate. According to the scorer there was an "E-3" involved, but I didn't see what happened. In any event, when the dust had cleared, it was 12-3 Challengers, and the game was, for all intents and purposes, over. The Barracudas tacked on 3 runs in the bottom of the 7th, but that only served to make the game look slightly closer than it really was.

The Challengers still have room for improvement, particularly in terms of defensive communication and the basic concept of sliding generally, but the team was quite happy with the sweep.
GAME PREVIEWS
NLA NIGHTGAME vs MUSTANGS
Wednesday August 14, 2013 - 7pm Facebook Event
The Challengers NLA-Team will host the Embrach Mustangs for a night game on Wednesday, August 14 at the Heerenschürli ballpark. It is the third attempt for this game after it has been rained out on May 11 and May 29. Presumably Timothy Jones will be pitching for the Mustangs, while the C's will send right-hander Robert Sedin to the mound. Jones has worked 79 innings with a league-leading 125 strikeouts in eight starts and is 6-3 with a 2.16 ERA, while Sedin is 4-4 with a 2.35 ERA in eight starts going 65 innings with 87 strikeouts. The Challengers will try to halt their season-high 6-game losing streak. They won one out of three games against the Mustangs in 2013. The game starts at 7 pm at the Heerenschürli.

Die Challengers spielen heute Mittwoch Abend ein Night Game gegen die Embrach Mustangs im Baseballstadion Heerenschürli. Es ist dies bereits der dritte Versuch für dieses Spiel, nachdem die Partie am 11. Mai und am 29. Mai wegen Regens zweimal abgesagt werden musste. Zu erwarten ist ein Pitching Duell zwischen Timothy Jones von den Mustangs und Robert Sedin von den Challengers. Jones glänzte bislang mit sechs Siegen und drei Niederlagen bei einer ERA von 2.16 und dem Ligabestwert von 125 Strikeouts, während Sedin in dieser Saison mit vier Siegen und vier Niederlagen bei einer ERA von 2.35 zu Buche steht. Die Challengers werden versuchen, ihre nun schon sechs Spiele dauernde Negativserie zu stoppen. Gegen die Mustangs gewannen sie in dieser Spielzeit eine von drei Begegnungen. Spielbeginn ist heute um 19.00 Uhr im Heerenschürli.
BASEBALL NLB vs BANDITS
Saturday August 17, 2013 - 11am & 2pm Facebook Event
First the NLB-Team will play the Jona Bandits on August 17 at 11am and 2pm at the Heerenschürli ballpark. The Challengers won three of their last four games and will try to continue their good ride. With two wins the C's could reach the .500 mark for the first time since June 8. And they want to try to take revenge for being swept by the Bandits on July 14.

Zunächst bestreitet das NLB-Team am 17. August um 11.00 und 14.00 Uhr einen Doubleheader gegen die Jona Bandits. Die Challengers gewannen drei ihrer vier letzten Partien und werden versuchen an die zuletzt guten Leistungen anzuknüpfen. Mit zwei Siegen könnten sie ihren Rekord erstmals seit dem 8. Juni wieder ausgleichen. Und die Challengers sinnen auf Revanche gegen die Bandits, nachdem sie am 14. Juli den St. Gallern zweimal unterlagen.
NLA NIGHTGAME vs LIONS
Saturday August 17, 2013 - 6pm Facebook Event
On Saturday, August 17 the Challengers will line up three times at the Heerenschürli ballpark. After a NLB double header between the C's and the Jona Bandits the NLA-Team will face the Zürich Lions at 6pm. The Challengers will need the fourth victory of the season against their local rivals in the battle for a playoff spot. The Lions won two of four games in August. On Sunday they rallied for five runs in the ninth inning en route to a 6-5 run over the Luzern Eagles.

Am Samstag, 17. August laufen die Challengers gleich dreimal im Baseballstadion Heerenschürli auf. NAch einem NLB Doubleheader trifft das NLA-Team um 18.00 Uhr auf die Zürich Lions. Die Challengers benötigen den vierten Saisonsieg gegen den Stadtrivalen im Kampf um den Einzug in die Playoffs. Die Lions gewannen zwei ihrer vier Spiele im August. Am Sonntag bezwangen sie die Luzern Eagles dank fünf Runs im neunten Inning mit 6-5.
NEWS
TAURUS RABATTWOCHE
Wednesday August 14, 2013 - by Thomas Blank
Die nächste Rabattwoche von Taurus Sports steht vor der Tür. Vom 17. bis 24. August 2013 profitiert ihr von 30% Rabatt auf das gesamte Ladensortiment (Sonderangebote und Spezialpreise ausgenommen). Dies gilt auch für Bestellungen über den Onlineshop.
RESULTS
BASEBALL NLA
August 10 vs Barracudas
LOST 3-6 and 4-5

BASEBALL NLB
August 11 vs Flyers
WON 17-13, LOST 1-6

BASEBALL 1. LIGA
No games played

SOFTBALL NLA
No games played

CADETS
No games played

JUVENILES
No games played
NEXT GAMES
BASEBALL NLA Nightgame
August 14 vs Mustangs

BASEBALL NLA Nightgame
August 17 vs Lions

BASEBALL NLB
August 17 vs Bandits

BASEBALL 1. LIGA
No games scheduled

SOFTBALL NLA
August 24 at Cardinals

CADETS
August 31 vs Black Hawks

JUVENILES

No games scheduled
SPONSORS
Junioren-Förderung durch die Zürcher Kantonalbank
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