NLA Baseball - Opening Day
The reigning National Champions kicked off their 2017 season with a finals rematch against the Zurich Barracudas. Pitcher Lukas Croton threw a fastball over the outside corner for a strike to open the season and didn't look back from there. He went 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and limiting the Barracudas to two unearned runs, one of these coming when he forgot how to throw to 3rd base, resulting in a runner scoring who had gotten an early jump off 2nd. He finished off his outing by striking out Reto Cola looking with the bases loaded. The Flyers' offense took only one pitch to get going. Leadoff hitter Adi Kaufmann jumped on the first offering he saw and sliced it down the right field line for a triple. The home team took the lead for good in the 3rd inning on an RBI groundout and continued to add to the lead from there. A couple miscues by the Barracuda infield and a towering home run onto the tram tracks from David Castillo gave the Flyers a comfortable lead. An extra run was tacked on in the 8th inning thanks to a rally started by rookies Noah Senn and Sean Bergmann. Senn took a fastball to the head to lead things off, and Bergmann followed with long at bat, finally managing to work a walk in his first NLA plate appearance. Stefan Koller took over on the mound in the 8th inning and had no problems closing out the win.
Game 2 was a classic pitching duel between the two lefties Hide Oshima for the Flyers and Evan Brisentine for the Barracudas. Neither offense could get much going. Zürich jumped out to the lead in the first inning thanks to a pair of singles and an RBI groundout. Oshima settled down after that and held the Barracudas offense in check for the next 7 innings. He left having given up only one run. Brisentine kept the Flyers off-balance and off the board until the 6th, when Kaufmann led off with a double that just eluded Wischnewski in center. He would then come around to score on a grounder by Koller. Kaufmann and Koller teamed up again in the 8th to take the lead. A leadoff walk and stolen base set the stage for Koller to hit a groundball just out of the reach of a diving Schnider at 2nd base to drive in the go-ahead run. Up 2-1 in the 9th, the Flyers then turned to Kaufmann to close out the game. However, he tweaked his hip and had to leave the game after walking the first two hitters of the inning. Taka Oshima replaced him on the mound. He managed to get the top of the Zurich lineup to keep the ball on the ground, yet a couple of untimely miscues by the middle infield let the Barracudas tie the game. After the go-ahead run scored on a sac fly, Bert Marsnik smacked a single to center to bring home a couple of insurance runs and the flood gates opened to the tune of 7 runs before the final out was recorded. Down 6 in the bottom of the 9th, the Flyers were quietly set down in order by Brisentine. The final score of 8-2 in favor of the Barracudas did not reflect the nature of what was a very close and winnable game for the Flyers.
The Flyers continue their season on April 30th at home against the Bern Cardinals.