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CHALLENGERS NEWSLETTER 08/2014
BUSY WEEKEND AHEAD
Am kommenden Wochenende stehen ausser dem 1. Liga Team alle Mannschaften der Challengers im Einsatz. Im einzigen Heimspiel empfängt das NLB-Team mit dem perfekten Record von 4-0 am Samstag die Unicorns auf dem Heerenschürli. 
RECAP
NLB-TEAM WINS TWICE IN LOCAL DERBY
Sunday May 11, 2014 - by Alex Gordon
The NLB-Team swept the Zürich Barracudas on Sunday, May 11 at the Heerenschürli ballpark. The Barracudas scored twice in the first frame, but the Challengers took the lead in the third and never looked back for a 9-7 win in Game 1. And the C's made it a perfect 4-0 start into the 2014 campaign, as they posted a 15-8 victory in Game 2 to complete the sweep against their local rivals.

NO NICK, NO PROBLEM: Sparkling Outings by Christen, Azuma lead the way to "sweep victory" over Barracudas
 
Not to jinx things, but the 2014 NLB Challengers have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to positional depth. Consider: The catcher position, once a veritable black hole in the defense (no offense to those who gamely filled the position, but they were not "natural" catchers) runs 3 deep. Outfield, which typically contained one, if not two weaker links, runs even deeper. The one potential weak spot in the NLB roster, would appear to be "Swiss"-eligible pitching. The arrival (or return) of Nick Lehmann (and his van) provided a huge boost, in particular with the departure of Dean Scherbaum to the far east. Behind Nick, however, the options were rather slim. Oli Christen certainly had the ability to provide quality innings, but to date had lacked the ability to consistently locate the strike zone.
 
When I learned prior to last weekend's games that Nick would not be available to pitch - some BS excuse about something called "Mothers Day", which sounds made up to me - I was nervous. The Barracudas typically have several players that are good hitters, and if Oli was unable to locate his pitches, it would be a long game. As it turned out, there was no need for me, or anyone, to be nervous: Christen was outstanding, limiting walks and piling up strike-outs, as the Challengers took Game 1 9-7.
 
The Barracudas got out to an early lead, scoring two runs in the top of the first. With runners on first and second and one out, the 'Cudas' clean-up hitter dropped down a Sac bunt to move both runners into scoring position with two outs. While the move appeared rather puzzling initially (why bunt with your 4 hitter in the first inning?), it ended up working out, as the next batter drove in both runs with a single. The Challengers got a run back in the bottom of the inning: Kurt Kovac led off with a double, then moved to third on a Sac bunt by Yusuke Azuma, and scored when Juan Bautista's Sac fly was dropped by the rightfielder (somehow, Juan managed to lumber safely into second base despite the entire team yelling "no, no stop!!!"...it's just how he rolls). The Challengers could've had a bigger inning - a single by Carlos Nepomuceno, who then stole second, put runners in scoring position with two outs - but Alex Gordon, in what would become an unfortunate theme in this game, grounded out to third to end the threat.
 
With the score 2-1 in the bottom of the third, the Challengers' bats got to work: Juan led off with a double (once again somehow managing to make it safely into second base despite all odds being against it) and reached third on a wild pitch. Consecutive walks to Carlos and Renzo Falcone loaded the bases with no outs. Unfortunately for the Challengers, the next batter was Gordon - an absolute Dumpster Fire at the plate in this game - whose little flare towards short left-center was grabbed by the shortstop. However, the next at-bat marked the key point of the game: With the count 2-2, Roger Burger took a pitch that was absolutely perfect - but since this is Swiss baseball it was of course called a ball. On the next pitch, Burger laced a single to left-center, scoring Juan and Carlos and giving the Challengers a 3-2 lead. Gregg Zingg followed with a 2-RBI single of his own, making it 5-2 (the score sheet also says that Zingg subsequently stole second base, but I refuse to believe that, I'm sorry!! I mean, ok it happened, but still.)
 
The 'Cudas got one back in the top of the 4th on a two-out passed ball, but the Challenger attack was relentless. Azuma reached on an error by the right fielder, and then took third on a single by Juan (who, yes, made it safely into second on the play, prompting statements that it was simply "Juan Day"). Consecutive singles by Nepomuceno and Falcone plated two more runs, making it 7-3. In the 5th, the Challengers tacked on another run on an RBI single by rookie Adrian Amoros.
 
While Burger's at-bat back in the third was, in my view, the turning point of the game, two plays in the 6th inning perfectly illustrated why the Challengers won the game. In the top of the 6th, with one out and a runner on first, Christen coaxed a grounder to Kovac at short that was gracefully turned into a 6-4-3 double play.  In the bottom of the 6th, Falcone led off with a weak grounder towards short that neither the shortstop nor the third baseman initially attempted to grab. Once the shortstop (I think) finally got around to picking up the ball, his throw to first was not only late, but got by the first baseman (who was charged with an error, but it looked like a crappy throw to me). Upon realizing that the throw was wild (which did NOT happen right away...you should've seen his reaction, it was pretty funny, although you kinda had to be there), Falcone took off for second and kept right on going to third, where he was safe on another error by the first baseman, whose throw flew into the outfield (somehow both the first AND third basemen were charged with errors on this play, which seems about right). Falcone trotted home, having scored on a ball that barely reached the middle of the infield dirt. The 'Cudas displayed some pretty bad defense in this game (8 errors overall, and that was with the help of some VERY generous scoring), but that play really was impressive for its sheer incompetence.
 
After allowing a lead-off walk in the top of the 7th, Christen was pulled for Michel Romang, making his 2014 pitching debut. Christen's line to that point: 6.0 IP, 5 hits, 3 ER, 4BB 7Ks. As mentioned previously, simply outstanding. The only disappointing thing about his outing was that it wasn't punctuated by any patented Oli "Battle Cries" (for e.g., in last year's game against the Barracudas, upon recording the final out of the game, Oli screamed something unintelligible in German, while throwing his glove as hard as he could into the fence. I wish something like that could happen every game). The top of the 7th was an adventure, and could've been a lot more harrowing had the Challengers not gotten the benefit of an atrocious "out" call at first (although the runner foolishly decided to slide feet first into the base, which means he probably deserved to be called out for stylistic reasons alone). Two walks, a hit batter, and the lone fielding error of the game by the Challengers allowed 4 runs to score, but in the end it wasn't enough. In the dugout after the game, I turned to Oli and said "Wow man, that was really some great pitching. I gotta admit, I was not expecting such dominance". To which Oli replied, "I know...I'm surprised too!".
 
In Game 2, the Challengers received another tremendous outing from their starter - this time Azuma - and also received plenty of support from their offense as well. As in Game 1, the 'Cudas jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a HBP and two passed balls. As in Game 1, that lead did not last. With one out in the bottom of the second, consecutive hit batters gave the Challengers runners on first and second. After a ground-out by Gordon moved the runners into scoring position, Adderly Sarmiento became the third HBP in the inning, which loaded the bases. Kovac followed with a booming double to left, driving in all three runners and putting the Challengers up 3-1. The lead would only grow from there: Juan led off the bottom of the third with a triple, and scored on a single by Falcone (let me just make a comment here: Renzo is a very talented hitter, don't get me wrong. But the aforementioned single came on one of the ugliest swings I've ever seen - off of one foot, lunging...didn't matter. I'm so bitter).
 
In the fourth, the Challengers blew the doors off, sending 15 men to the plate and scoring 9 times. By the time the dust had settled, a close 4-1 contest had become a 13-1 laugher. The 'Cudas did manage to put up 7 runs over the next two innings, but as in Game 1, it was too little, too late, and the Challengers coasted to a 15-8 victory. By the end of the game, the only thing that was in doubt was whether the gale-force winds that had suddenly descended on the field, would manage to blow all of the dirt off of the infield (the answer was no).
 
All in all, it was an impressive performance for the Challengers, in particular the starting pitching. As mentioned before in this space, if Christen can emerge as a legitimate second option behind Lehmann, NLB could really be in a position to make some noise this season. Strong starting pitching, solid fielding, impressive hitting...something's brewing.
1ST LEAGUE-TEAM STOPPED BY CARDINALS, BARRACUDAS
Sunday May 11, 2014 - by Serge KuenzlerPhoto Album
Photo by Dulliken Truck Stars
The 1st League-Team lost twice for the first time in 2014 on Sunday, May 11 at Bern. In the first game of the day the SG TruckStar/Challengers were beaten by the Bern Cardinals 10-2. In Game 2 the third team from Zürich Barracudas posted a 14-8 victory over the SG, who is now in fourth place in the western division with a 3-3 record.
JUVENILES GAME RAINED OUT
Sunday May 11, 2014
The U12-Juveniles game day at Hünenberg has been canceled due to rain. No make-up date has been announced so far for the games from the SG TruckStar/Challengers against the Hünenberg Unicorns and the Therwil Flyers.

Der Spieltag der U12-Juveniles in Hünenberg wurde wegen Regens abgesagt. Wann die Spiele der SG TruckStar/Challengers gegen die Hünenberg Unicorns und die Therwil Flyers neu angesetzt werden, ist noch nicht bekannt.
GAME PREVIEWS
BASEBALL NLA at FLYERS
Sunday May 18, 2014 - 11am & 2pm
The NLA-Team will face the Therwil Flyers on Sunday, May 18 at Therwil for the first two games of a four-game series, with the games 3 and 4 on May 25 at Zürich. The Challengers (2-3) will try to keep pace with the playoff spots against the Flyers (5-3). Last year the C's won the season series against their arch rivals 3-1. The games start at 11am and 2pm at Therwil Känelmatt.  

Das NLA-Team trifft am Sonntag, 18. Mai auswärts zu einem Doubleheader auf die Therwil Flyers. Bereits eine Woche später kommt es dann zum Rückspiel in Zürich. Die Challengers werden versuchen, nach einem durchzogenen Saisonstart den Anschluss zur Spitze zu halten. In der vergangenen Saison gewannen die Zürcher 3 von 4 Partien gegen die Erzrivalen. Spielbeginn ist um 11.00 und 14.00 Uhr in Therwil Känelmatt.
BASEBALL NLB vs UNICORNS
Saturday May 17, 2014 - 11am & 2pm Facebook Event
The NLB-Team will play its third game day of the season on Saturday, May 17 and the Challengers (4-0) will face the Hünenberg Unicorns (1-5) already for the second time. On opening day the C's swept the Unicorns 14-4 and 16-6 and they will try to keep their perfect record. The games start at 11am and 2pm at the Heerenschürli ballpark.  

Das NLB-Team trifft am dritten Spieltag der Saison am Samstag, 17. Mai bereits zum zweiten Mal auf die Hünenberg Unicorns. Zum Saisonstart siegten die Challengers mit 14-4 und 16-6 zweimal deutlich und wollen nun ihre Ungeschlagenheit in dieser Saison behalten. Die Spiele finden um 11.00 und 14.00 Uhr im Baseballstadion Heerenschürli statt. 
SOFTBALL at CARDINALS
Sunday May 18, 2014 - 11am & 1.30pm
The Softball Team Zürich will travel to Bern to face the Cardinals on Sunday, May 18 for its second game day of the season. The Team Zürich will need to improve its defense, if it wants to arrive in the win column. The games start at 11am and 1.30pm at Bern Allmend.

Das Softball Team Zürich reist am Sonntag, 18. Mai nach Bern, wo es auf die Kardinals treffen wird. Wollen die Zürcherinnen ihren ersten Saisonsieg feiern, müssen sie sich in der Defensive im Vergleich zum Auftakt deutlich steigern. Die Spiele beginnen um 11.00 und 13.30 Uhr auf der Berner Allmend.
BASEBALL CADETS at LIONS/ RAINBOWS/VIKINGS
Saturday May 17, 2014 - 12pm & 2.30pm
The U15-Cadets will travel to Embrach to face the Lions/Rainbows/Vikings on Saturday, May 17. After winning twice on opening day the SG TruckStar/Challengers will try to continue with two more wins against the squad with players from Zürich and St. Gallen. The games start at noon and 2.30pm at Embrach PZ Hard.

Die U15-Cadets spielen am Samstag, 17. Mai in Embrach gegen die Lions/Rainbows/Vikings. Nach zwei Erfolgen zum Saisonstart wird die SG TruckStar/Challengers versuchen die Serie gegen die Spielgemeinschaft aus Zürich und St. Gallen auszubauen. Die Spiele beginnen um 12.00 und 14.30 Uhr in Embrach PZ Hard.
BASEBALL JUVENILES vs CARDINALS/ FROGS/HUNTERS at UNICORNS
Sunday May 18, 2014 - 10am & 3pm
The U12-Juveniles will face the Cardinals/Frogs/Hunter and the Hünenberg Unicorns on Sunday, May 18 to finally open their season. Last weekend the opening games for the SG TruckStar/Challengers has been rained out. The games will take place at Dulliken Untere Ey starting at 10 am and 3 pm.

Die U12-Juveniles treffen am Sonntag, 18. Mai auf die Cardinals/Frogs/Hunters und die Hünenberg Unicorns. Nachdem am vergangenen Wochenende die Saisoneröffnung der SG TruckStar/Challengers ins Wasser fiel, sollte die U12 nun als letztes Team der Challengers Organisation in die neue Saison starten. Spielbeginn ist um 10.00 und 15.00 Uhr in Dulliken Untere Ey.
NEWS
SOLA STAFETTE 2014
Wednesday May 14, 2014 - by Serge Kuenzler
Am kommenden Samstag, 17. Mai ist es wieder so weit. Wie jedes Jahr im Mai sind in und um Zürich tausende von Läufern unterwegs, wenn die 41. Austragung der SOLA-Stafette stattfindet. Auch die Challengers sind dabei. Sie leisten alljährlich einen Helfereinsatz und tragen hinter den Kulissen dazu bei, dass der Traditionsanlass durchgeführt werden kann. Doch was genau ist die SOLA-Stafette und woher kommt der Name?  

Die SOLA-Stafette ist ein Lauf in und um die Stadt Zürich mit einer Gesamtlänge von rund 120 km, der vom Akademischen Sportverband Zürich (ASVZ) organisiert wird. Die Strecke ist in 14 Etappen mit einer Länge von 4 bis 14 km unterteilt. Jedes der 14 Teammitglieder läuft eine Teilstrecke und übergibt in der Wechselzone den Chip für die Zeitmessung dem Teamkollegen, der die nächste Etappe läuft. Im vergangenen Jahr nahmen über 900 Teams mit mehr als 12'500 Läufern teil. Die besten Teams bewältigen die Strecke in knapp 7 Stunden.

Ihren Ursprung hat die SOLA-Stafette in Schweden. Die "Femte kontinuerliga internationella Jubileums-Solastafetten" führte über 252,7 km in 25 Etappen von Göteborg nach Karlstad und wurde zwischen 1967 und 1998 durchgeführt. Sola bedeutet auf schwedisch Sonne. Eine glückliche Sonne ist auch das Symbol Karlstads. Der Legende nach war die Sola i Karlstad eine strahlend blonde Schönheit, die Ende des 18. Jh. lebte. Sie arbeitete als Kellnerin in einem städtischen Wirtshaus, das ihretwegen viele Gäste anzog. Nach ihrem Tod schrieb der Pfarrer neben ihrem Namen ins Kirchbuch "Die Sonne in Karlstad".
RESULTS
BASEBALL NLA
No games played

BASEBALL NLB
May 11 vs Barracudas
WON 9-7 and 15-8

BASEBALL 1. LIGA
May 11 at Cardinals
vs Barracudas
LOST 2-10 and 8-14

SOFTBALL NLA
No games played

CADETS
No games played

JUVENILES
May 11 at Unicorns vs Flyers
Rained out
NEXT GAMES
BASEBALL NLA
May 18 at Flyers

BASEBALL NLB
May 17 vs Unicorns

BASEBALL 1. LIGA
May 31 vs Eighters West
at Eagles


SOFTBALL NLA
May 18 at Cardinals

CADETS
May 17 at Lions / Rainbows /
Vikings

JUVENILES

May 18 vs Cardinals / Frogs /
Hunters at Unicorns
SPONSORS
Junioren-Förderung durch die Zürcher Kantonalbank
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