NLA Baseball - The Flyers open the season 4-019.04.2018
Opening day in Swiss Baseball was on April 7th in Therwil, featuring the defending-champion Therwil Flyers and the young Bern Cardinals. After the pregame ring ceremony concluded with lots of tears and smiles, Flyers president and long-suffering Mets fan Rausi Raouzeos took the mound for the honorary first pitch of the season. Under the watchful eyes of his former teammates and Flyers legends in the crowd, he wound up and almost managed to throw the ball all the way to home plate. With the regular season under way, Swiss-Statcast also started back up and is proud to bring you made-up statistics once again in 2018.
Game 1 vs the Cardinals
The Flyers turned to veteran Stefan Koller to start the year, hoping he would do a better job of throwing the ball to home plate than their team president. He started strong, retiring the side in the 1st. He did not escape unscathed however, as he took a hard-lined shot off the leg (Swiss-Statcast recorded the exit velocity as 110.3 mph). Upon reaching the dugout he declared it „only a scratch“, and was determined to go out and continue pitching. In the home half of the 1st, the Flyers quickly loaded the bases with one out but were unable to score. Sadly, during the Flyers offensive half-inning, Koller’s leg swelled up and he was unable to continue. This did not phase the Flyers one bit, as local two-way player Taka „Shohei“ Oshima took over on the mound. An infield hit and an error helped give the Cardinals a quick two runs in Oshima’s first inning of work, during which the Flyers revamped defense showed that playing people out of position would take some getting used to. Of course, a two-run deficit is not much to the powerful bats in the Flyers line-up so while they took their time waking up from their deep winter slumber, the team was convinced they would turn the game around. Still, it wasn’t until the 3rd inning, when they finally got on the board. Adrian Kaufmann worked a walk and stole second, before Rafael Eigenmann brought him home with an RBI groundout. With Oshima dominating on the mound, the score remained 2-1 for the visitors until the 5th, when the Flyers finally broke through in a big way, scoring 11 runs and taking a 12-2 lead. Edwin Hernandez opened the inning with a single. After Kaufmann reached on an error, Hide Oshima laid down a perfect base-hit bunt that was then thrown into right field, allowing both runners to score. From there, the big bats took over. Javier Rodriguez smoked a two-run double to break the game wide open and Hide Oshima and Kaufmann added an RBI single each. To cap off the inning, Eigenmann then got hold of a fastball and deposited it over the fence in center field. While it did leave the park, it was not hit very well according to Kaufmann, who to this day does not believe Swiss-Statcast’s metrics that had the ball travelling 380 feet with an exit-velocity of 102.7 mph. While the Cardinals managed to take advantage of some undisciplined Flyers defense to get two runs back, the home team scored another 7 runs in the 6th inning, highlighted by Lt. Sven Leemann’s booming double to right center to put away the game mercy-rule style by a score of 19-4.
Game 2 vs the Cardinals
Declaring himself “good to go”, Taka Oshima was back on the mound for the Flyers to start Game 2. The Cardinals came out strong in the 1st, smacking two doubles and taking a quick 1-0 lead. The Flyers answered right back in the bottom half of the inning. A walk and single by the Oshima brothers set the stage. Then David Castillo doubled and Javi Rodriguez tripled to give the home team a 3-1 lead. Once again injury struck, with Rodriguez hurting himself running the bases. This meant that Coach Lukas Croton was pressed into emergency duty, for once not as a doctor, but as a pinch runner/left fielder/power hitter. In the 2nd, the Flyers tacked on another three runs on three singles and two walks to take a 6-1 lead. The Cardinals would not go away though, battling back to score two runs and close the deficit to 6-3 in the 3rd inning. After that, both pitcher settled down, allowing only a couple baserunners each and keeping the score right there until the 6th. The Flyers managed to tack on another three runs in the inning, with Taka Oshima and Leemann both hitting RBI doubles to stretch the lead to 9-3. Croton contributed to the rally by striking out swinging, as a true power hitter only strikes out or hits home runs. The Cardinals tried to fight their way back into the game one last time in the 8th, which was Oshima’s 14th inning on the mound that day. An error and a couple of hits got them as close as 9-6 before Oshima then closed out the game and picked up his 2nd win of the day in his 15th inning of work.
A week later, the Flyers travelled to Zürich with 9 players looking to continue their strong start to the season. They had some extra motivation on that day, as the Challengers Instagram account had guaranteed two wins against the Flyers during the week. While not at full strength due to injuries and absences, it was still a confident squad that took the field in Zürich.
Game 1 @ Challengers
The Flyers jumped out quickly in Zürich, scoring a run on a walk and consecutive singles by Eigenmann and Taka Oshima in the 1st. On the mound, they once again turned to Stefan Koller, who was hoping to complete more than one inning this time out. The Challengers jumped on him early, loading the bases with no outs. After walking in a run, Koller shut down the rally by striking out the next three hitters to prevent a big inning. After the Flyers went quietly in the 2nd, the Challengers took a 2-1 lead on two singles. Answering right back in the 3rd, the Flyers scored two runs to take back the lead. After Kaufmann was hit by a pitch and tended to by Flyers‘ team physician Lukas Croton, the offense took advantage of two miscues by the defense to take a 3-2 lead. Both pitcher shut down the opposing offenses from there for the next couple innings until the Challengers broke through with a four-run inning in the 5th. Three walks and three singles combined to give them a 6-3 lead. As has been proven many times, no lead is safe when the Flyers’ offense comes to town. In the 7th, the bats got hot. Hide Oshima singled to lead off the inning and was followed by a walk to Eigenmann. Then Taka Oshima roped a double to left center to score two and bring the Flyers to within one run. After a walk to Castillo, Koller then helped himself out by bringing home the tying run with a single to right. He was quickly followed by a sac fly by Hernandez to give the Flyers the lead. They were not done there, tacking on another two insurance runs on a RBI single by power-hitter Lukas Croton and a RBI double by Kaufmann, that scored Croton all the way from first. Croton’s single had an exit-velocity of 122.5 mph, making it the hardest hit ball of the Swiss-Statcast era (dating back to 2017). Given a 9-6 lead, Koller then cruised through the final three innings to pick up his first win of the 2018 season.
Game 2 @ Challengers
Game 2 was a one-sided affair. After not scoring in the 1st, the Flyers scored runs in each of the next five innings, jumping out to a 8-1 lead during that time. With Taka Oshima back on the mound and dominating, the Flyers continued to tack on runs all game. While the offense put up 8 runs on the day, the defense was almost perfect, making dazzling play after dazzling play to back Oshima. The Challengers didn’t put up much of a fight, going quietly as Oshima picked up his league-leading 3rd win of the season by a score of 8-2. Leading the Flyers offense in game 2 were Hernandez who went 3-4 with two RBI's, while both Koller and Hide Oshima picked up two hits apiece.
The Flyers are back in action on April 21st. They take on the Wil Devils at home in Therwil.