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CHALLENGERS NEWSLETTER 26/2013
CHALLENGERS WITH THEIR BACKS AGAINST THE WALL
Hatte die Ausgangslage nach Spiel 1 in der Best-of-five Halbfinalserie zwischen den Challengers und Titelverteidiger Bern Cardinals für die Zürcher noch vielversprechend ausgesehen, steht das Team von Headcoach Chris Palatinus nach drei Spielen mit dem Rücken zur Wand. Sie müssen nun beide Partien am kommenden Wochenende gewinnen, um weiter vom Titel träumen zu können. Spiel 4 findet am Samstag um 14.00 Uhr im heimischen Heerenschürli statt.

Auch das NLB-Team steht vor einem Must-win Game. In der Halbfinalserie zwischen den Challengers und den Therwil Flyers steht es nach dem ersten Wochenende 1-1. Am Samstag kommt es in Therwil zur Belle.

RECAP
C's LOSE GAME 2, SERIES AT 1-1
Saturday September 28, 2013 - by Chris PalatinusPhoto Album
The Challengers lost Game 2 of their best-of-five semi-final series with the defending champion Bern Cardinals on Saturday, September 28 at the Heerenschürli ballpark. The Cardinals jumped on starter Robert Sedin in the first inning as they scored four runs on four hits and one error before the C's ended the inning with a double play. After that, Sedin kept the Cardinals bats under control and allowed just two more runs, but the Challengers didn't come through against Patrick Lawson who limited the C's to one run and six hits in a 6-1 win.
Game Recap
NLB OPENS POSTSEASON WITH WIN
Saturday September 28, 2013 - by Alex GordonPhoto Album
The NLB-Team started its postseason with a convincing 12-4 victory over the Therwil Flyers on Saturday, September 28. Pitchers Nick Lehmann and Oliver Christen cooled down the Flyers' bats and the Challengers took a 1-0 series lead.
TWO UNBELIEVABLE GAMES
Saturday September 28, 2013 - by Michel RomangPhoto Album
Photo by Truck Stars Dulliken
The 1st league team met the Zurich Barracudas III for a double-header last Saturday. As it turned out, two unbelievable games were played by the SG – one on the very negative side of the spectrum and one on the very positive side.  But even with a fantastic game 2, both match-ups were lost (again).  

The first bad news reached the team on Friday because starting pitcher Philipp Matter was hurt and unable to pitch the following day. So the SG had to go with Roger Wyss as a fill-in starter. Being the home-team for game 1 the SG was in the field for the top-half of inning 1. With Wyss not as sharp as the team hoped and a defense, which had trouble all game long catching, stopping and throwing the Baseball, the Barracudas could score 6 runs in the first. Making matters worse, the SG Truck Star/Challengers could not score in their half of the inning. The Barracudas added 3 more runs in the second, but then the SG finally arrived in the game and was able to score 5 runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning to narrow the score to 8-5. But that was the only positive of this game. The Barracudas scored 12 runs in the 3rd inning. Ineffective pitching and a bad defense caused this very rough inning. The ‘Cudas added 8 more runs in the 4th to get the score to 29-5 which meant that if the SG didn’t score 5 or more runs in the bottom 4th, the game would be over due to Mercy Rule. By facing such an embarrassing loss, the SG put together a strong inning and scored 6 runs. But the good feelings were short-lived as the Barracudas scored 7 more runs in the top 5. With the SG unable to recover, the game ended after 5 innings by a horrifying score of 36-11. 
 
In game 2 the SG was the away-team, so they had to hit first. Cedric Thommen scored on Roger Wyss RBI-Single to give the 1st league team a 1-0 lead. The SG then sent Michel Romang to the mound to start the game. Two flyouts and a strikeout later, the 1st inning was over and the SG still in the lead! In the bottom of the 2nd, the Barracudas were able to tie the game at 1. Romang had some trouble with his pitch location, but was able to get out of a bases-loaded 2-out jam. The SG played great defense – turning matters 180 degrees after game 1. After the Barracudas tied the game, the SG was able to get the lead right back in the top of the 3rd inning. Cedric Thommen was able to score on a wild pitch. The SG then got 2 quick outs before Romang gave up a double, a wild pitch and a walk. But again, he was able to get the 3rd out before any more runners could score. In the 4th inning both teams were held scoreless. The game was still 2-1. Compared to the first game a huge difference, which prompted the Barracudas managers to sub-in the experienced players and relieve the pitcher with veteran Farid Bekkali. But he struggled a bit in his first inning allowing Skinny Olsen to score on Jeffrey Pomuceno’s RBI-Single. The SG was again able to hold the Cudas off the scoreboard in the 5th inning, but having the lead doubled to 3-1. Was it possible that we might get our first win?
Not so fast thought the Barracudas. With Bekkali settling in and not allowing a run in the 6th, the chances for the Barracudas were still alive. In the bottom of the 6th, they quickly loaded the bases with nobody out. The No. 9 hitter was then able to get 1 run home by an RBI-groundout. The next batter then hit a long fly ball to center, which would have been deep enough to tie the game. But somehow the runner from 3rd broke for home instantly, giving the SG the chance to turn a double-play: Jeffrey Pomuceno caught the ball in center for out number 2 and then threw to Olsen who relayed the ball to Romang, who covered third for a pick-off and a huge out no. 3. 1 Inning to go and still a 3-2 lead! The tension grew within the team. 
In the top of the 7th, the SG had the perfect chance to get some cushion. Bases-loaded and nobody out. But Ryan Koley, Jeffrey Pomuceno and Alexia Zingg were all struck out by Bekkali (who also stopped throwing wild pitches) and the score still at 3-2. Before dreaming of a win, the score was tied at 3. Bekkali led off the inning with a huge ground-rule double and Bruno Meier followed with the same to bring Bekkali home. Romang and Cedric Thommen (who was catching his best career game) then let Meier take third base with a passed ball. The winning run for the Barracudas was just 90 feet away and nobody out. Romang was then able to strike out Hertsch for the first out. The next pitch was wild a rolling to the back-stop. Meier broke from third, Thommen went for the ball and threw to Romang who covered home – and they were able to get the out! Phew, that was veeeeery close! A strikeout later, the inning was over. Tied ball-game – free baseball!
The SG was unable to get anyone on base in the top of the 8th. So Romang had to go another inning with no margin of error. The first hitter then promptly hit a soft single to lead off the bottom 8. After a successful Sac bunt, the winning run was on second with 1 out. The next batter hit a single – first and third and still one out… Would the team once again be able to get unscathed with a runner on third? No, this time not. Julien Burger hit a ground ball passed the mound in between second and third base, where neither Roger Wyss nor Skinny Olson could get a grip on the ball and the runner from third scored on this walk-off single. Man, what a baseball game! Two pitchers going neck-and-neck and two defenses turning great plays, that’s why we play and love that game! 
The loss in game 2 was unfortunate for the SG Truck Star/Challengers, but it was extremely impressive how they turned around after a miserable game 1. Game 2 was by far the best game ever played by the SG and it’s just a matter of time, until they will be able to win a 1st league game. Unfortunately, only 2 games are left this season – on October 12 vs. the Zurich Eighters East. But they are also winless so far this season. There might be another chance… 
CHALLENGERS WITH THEIR BACKS AGAINST THE WALL
Sunday September 29, 2013 - by Chris Palatinus
The Challengers are one loss away from the end of their season after losing Game 3 of their best-of-five semi-final series against the Bern Cardinals on Sunday, September 29. One day after tying the series at 1-1, the defending Swiss Champion took also Game 3, as the Cardinals posted an 11-4 win over the C's. Game 4 will take place on Saturday, October 5 at the Heerenschürli ballpark.
Game Recap
NLB-TEAM PLAYS DECIDING GAME 3
Sunday September 29, 2013 - by Alex Gordon
Game 1 of the Challengers' best of three NLB playoff series against the Flyers was rather enjoyable: Nick Lehmann pitched great, Oli Christen was once again effective out of the bullpen, and Danny Strolz got his first hit of the season. Heck, there was even a 5 second tantrum thrown by the author after he was called out on a close play at first. All in all, there were many highlights to celebrate in an 11-4 victory for the C's. But Game 2 was not nearly as much fun as Game 1.. First, there was the 8am meeting time, which of course two people missed by more than 20 minutes, then the obligatory delay (for the two other guys riding with me) while I ran to the bathroom, and then a trek through the woods in search of the batting cage, which had been mysteriously moved to another field. After all that, it was time to play - not just baseball, but also a game of  "Guess what team these guys ACTUALLY play for" once the Flyers took the field. For those of you who haven't played before, the rules are simple: Just look at the defensive alignment, and try to figure out how many of the fielders really play for the Flyers, and which ones were there due to the absolutely ridiculous rule that players aged 20 and younger can just switch the licenses to other teams during the season. In Game 1, I counted three: former Challengers Yanik Probst, normally a member of the Eagles, batting first and playing shortstop, Alex Bruce of the Barracudas, batting third and catching, and then some other guy from Embrach who I'd never seen before was on the mound. In Game 2, there appeared to be just one, the starting pitcher, who was wearing his Lions hat. Hey at least the colors more or less matched. Yanik was stuck wearing his red Swiss National Team hat. You never want to be the one guy stuck wearing a red hat when everyone else is wearing blue. You just don't. Actually...now that I think of it, the pitcher was wearing his red Embrach hat, so I guess it was a little less embarrassing for Yanik. But only a little.
 
In any event, the Challengers starting things off sloppily, as Renzo Falcone once again hit a pop-up, didn't leave the batters box, watched the first baseman drop the ball, and then just barely make it to the base. I say once again, because literally the same thing happened in Game 1...the same guy even muffed the catch. Weird. Now to be fair, your author also found himself standing in the box and cursing rather than running out the play...only to watch in horror as the ball was dropped (and, unlike Renzo, I was still out). I hadn't been that embarrassed on a baseball field since the time in 7th grade when I made my hat into a "rally cap" and then forgot to turn it right-side out before going to play defense. Nonetheless, the Challengers were unable to take advantage of the error, and the inning ended on a ground out.
 
After striking out the lead-off batter, pitcher Kurt Kovac soon found himself in a tight spot. An error by third baseman Adderly Sarmiento allowed the second batter to reach safely, who then promptly stole second. A walk, stolen base, and a single later, it was 1-0 Flyers with runners on first and third with still only one out. However, Falcone was there to save the day for the Challengers, helping to turn a brilliant 6-3 double play, with Yusuke Azuma making a nice scoop at first.
 
The C's tied things up in the top of the third: Sarmiento reached on an error by the shortstop, and Michel Romang followed with a single to put runners on first and second with no one out. The runners each moved up a base on a long fly to center by Kovac, despite a very strong throw from the center-fielder, which was almost in time to nail Sarmiento at third. Daiki Sato brought Sarmiento home on an RBI ground-out to second. Meanwhile, Kovac was cruising on the mound, retiring the side in order in both the second and third, and recording 4 strikeouts.
 
The Challengers took the lead in the top of the 4th: Acting-coach Carlos Nepomuceno led off with a single, stole second, and then scored on an RBI single by Alex Gordon (who took second on the throw home). A bunt single by Nick Lehmann caught everyone off guard (including Gordon, who didn't advance on the play), putting runners on first and second with one out. Sarmiento bounced a potential double play ball to short, but after Lehmann was forced at second, the return throw to first went out of play, allowing Gordon to score the Challengers' third run.
 
In the bottom of the inning, the Flyers got both runs back - with some help from the Challengers and despite some (apparently) shaky umpiring: After Kovac got the lead-off man looking (his 5th K in 7 batters), the next batter doubled past a diving Gordon in left and a somewhat hobbled Sato (sore knee) in center, who stumbled chasing after the ball.  After a stolen base and a walk, the Flyers had runners on first and third with just one out. The next batter bounced a grounder towards Azuma at first, who threw  to Lehmann at home in an attempt to get the lead runner. Although the throw appeared to be late (at least from my vantage point in left), the runner was called out, causing him to have a complete meltdown as he stomped and cursed his disagreement with the call (I was a little nervous that he was going to burst into tears, which he may well have done, but there weren't any audible sobs, at least). Flyers' coach Andy Fleischaker came out to argue, but his bloviating was no more effective here than it had been in the National Team game against Great Britain -- only he managed (somewhat unjustly) not to get ejected this time.    
 
Unfortunately, having just been handed (arguably) a huge gift, the Challengers handed it right back: With runners now on first and third, but with two outs, the runner on first broke for second. On a designed play, Lehmann's throw was cut off by Kovac, who then whirled and threw to third in an attempt to pick off the lead runner. Unfortunately, Kovac's throw sailed past Sarmiento at third (who may not have been expecting the throw, I'm not sure) and bounced out of play. Two runs scored - at least until the Challengers successfully argued that the runner had not yet reached second before the ball went out of bounds, and was sent back to third. This led Fleischaker to throw another fit, which was also ineffective and also not met with a richly-deserved ejection. Ironically, the whole brouhaha was rendered moot when the next batter singled, and the runner on third scored anyway.
 
The Challengers retook the lead in top of the 5th, as Kovac doubled, and then scored when Sato's grounder was mishandled by the shortstop. Unfortunately, Sato promptly ran himself into a double play, and was nailed at first after Falcone's long fly to left was caught. The score remained 4-3 Challengers until the bottom of the 6th, when things fell apart: After a walk and four consecutive singles (and then two RBI ground-outs), the Flyers pushed across 5 runs to take an 8-4 lead.
 
Ok, so I'm running up against the deadline for submission here, so let me move quickly: The Challengers got two runs back on RBI singles by Sato and Azuma, to make it 8-6. Azuma came on in relief of Kovac and struck out the side in the bottom of the 7th, but Fleischaker returned the favor in the top of the 8th. In the top of the 9th, the Flyers scored two crucial insurance runs, aided heavily by Azuma's throwing error and two wild pitches (one of his pick-off attempts also hit me square in the nuts, which was also unappreciated!!!). 
 
Heading into the top of the 9th, it was 10-6 Flyers with the top of the Challengers' order coming up. Kovac led off with his third straight double, and, two outs later, scored on a single by Azuma, who took second on defensive indifference and then stole third. Nepomuceno drove in Azuma with a single of his own, and then took second on defensive indifference. That brought Gordon to the plate representing the tying run (although my chances of hitting a home run off of Fleischaker were admittedly remote...ok admittedly REALLY remote). After working the count full, Gordon hit a chopper towards short, and busted it out of the batter's box. In an effort to beat the throw, Gordon (me) took a lunging last step, stumbling over the base JUST after the ball had been caught for the third out. I thought that was the end of things...but I was wrong.
 
Immediately, the Flyers bench and fans (the NLA team that had shown up in advance of their own game) started howling that I had intentionally tried to cleat the first baseman. Further, Fleischaker was clearly heard (by me) telling the umpires that I had intentionally tried to injure his player, which a) was completely untrue, and b) caused me to leap up and "very politely" inquire as to just what exactly he had just said. The Flyers' fans continued to hurl impolite, and rather unimaginative, adjectives in my direction, while I courteously invited them, collectively, to perform biologically impossible feats. It really was too much. I mean no sport has more fake tough guys than baseball...I mean, it's not like you hear about guys sucker-punching opponents in the handshake line or anything, but it's close (What do you mean "maybe you should use another example"?). Anyway, I can clearly state for the record that I made no attempt to cleat anyone, intentionally or otherwise. If the Flyers want to believe otherwise, that's their business.
 
Speaking of business, the Challengers NLB team has some to take care of this Saturday. Looking forward to it!

GAME PREVIEWS
BASEBALL NLA vs CARDINALS
Saturday October 5, 2013 - 2pm
Semi-final series Game 4Facebook Event
The Challengers will try to force a deciding game 5 against the Bern Cardinals with a win on Saturday, October 5 at the Heerenschürli ballpark. The Cardinals bring a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series to Zurich. After giving away the last two games the C's need a victory in Game 4 to avoid elimination with right-hander Robert Sedin taking on Cardinals American pitcher Patrick Lawson. The game will start at 2pm at the Heerenschürli.

If the Challengers walk away with a win on Saturday, Game 5 will take place on Sunday, October 6 at 2pm at Bern Allmend.

Die Challengers werden am Samstag, 5. Oktober im Baseballstadion Heerenschürli versuchen die Belle in der Best-of-five Serie mit den Bern Cardinals zu erzwingen. Die Bundesstädter bringen einen 2-1 Vorsprung mit nach Zürich, nachdem die Challengers die beiden letzten Partien abgegeben haben. Das Saisonende für die Challengers verhindern soll der Right-hander Robert Sedin, der auf Cardinals Pitcher Patrick Lawson treffen wird. Spielbeginn ist um 14.00 Uhr im Heerenschürli.

Falls die Challengers am Samstag gewinnen, wird das entscheidende fünfte Spiel am Sonntag, 6. Oktober um 14.00 Uhr auf der Berner Allmend stattfinden.
BASEBALL NLB at FLYERS
Saturday October 5, 2013 - 2pm
Semi-final series Game 3
The NLB-Team travels to Therwil on Saturday, October 5 to play Game 3 of the best-of-three series between the Challengers and the Flyers. After both teams won their home game, the series is tied at 1-1. The winner of Game 3 will advance to the league's final against the second team from the Bern Cardinals. The game starts at 2pm at Therwil Känelmatt.

Das NLB-Team reist am Samstag, 5. Oktober zum entscheidenden dritten Spiel der Best-of-three Serie zwischen den Challengers und den Flyers nach Therwil. Nachdem beide Teams ihre Heimspiele gewinnen konnten, steht es in der Halbfinalserie 1-1. Der Sieger von Spiel 3 trifft im Ligafinal auf die zweite Equipe der Bern Cardinals. Spielbeginn ist um 14.00 Uhr in Therwil Känelmatt.
RESULTS
BASEBALL NLA
September 28 vs Cardinals
LOST 1-6 
September 29 at Cardinals
LOST 4-11

Cardinals lead series 2-1


BASEBALL NLB
September 28 vs Flyers
WON 12-4
September 29 at Flyers
LOST 8-10

Series tied 1-1

BASEBALL 1. LIGA
September 28 vs Barracudas
LOST 11-36 and 3-4
NEXT GAMES
BASEBALL NLA
October 5 vs Cardinals
October 6 at Cardinals (if needed)
Semi-Final Game 4 & 5


BASEBALL NLB
October 5 at Flyers
Semi-Final Game 3


BASEBALL 1. LIGA
October 12 vs Eighters Ost

SOFTBALL NLA
End of season

CADETS
End of season

JUVENILES

End of season
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