NLA Baseball - Flyers Sweep Cardinals in Therwil
The Therwil Flyers bounced back from a disappointing opening day split to sweep the two-game set from the Bern Cardinals last Sunday. The dominant pitching performances continued for the Flyers, who have now given up a combined three earned runs in four games. Apart from a few early season base-running blunders, the offense showed an upward trend from opening day. As always, all advanced metrics are provided by Swiss-Statscast.
The opening game on this beautiful Sunday featured a matchup between national teamer pitchers Lukas Croton for the Flyers and Thierry Burkhardt of the Cardinals. Both pitchers were sharp from the first pitch and dominated early, matching zeroes for the first three innings. It was Croton who first ran into some trouble in the 4th, with the Cardinals jumping out to a 1-0 lead on a double off the bat of long-time nemesis Jhonny Perigo, who continued his decades-long assault on Swiss pitching. Croton settled down quickly though, and continued to throw up zeroes and give his offense time to join the party. He didn't have to wait long, as the Flyers finally broke through in the 5th to the tune of six runs. Aussie Chris Horne got things started with an opposite field single, a big accomplishment for a PO (pitcher-only). Leadoff hitter Adrian Kaufmann then added to his history-chasing number of career hit-by-pitches and stole 2nd base to set the stage for the Oshima brothers. They called their shots and came through with back-to-back doubles to give the home team a 3-1 lead. Three batters later, David Castillo got hold of a fastball and launched it into left center with an exit velocity of 112.7 mph. With a launch angle of 23°, it finally came down deep on the left field tram-tracks after travelling an estimated 423 feet. His three-run blast gave the Flyers some breathing room and a 6-1 lead. However breathing room was not needed by Croton who cruised through the 7th before giving way to Stefan Koller in the 8th. Koller had a quick inning, and let the offense finish off the game mercy-rule style in the bottom half of the inning. Once again, a big Flyers inning was led off with a single by Horne, who seemed to have every Cardinals pitcher's number in this game. Singles by the rookie Noah Senn and Kaufmann followed to load the bases. An RBI walk then set the stage for clean-up hitter Sven Leemann. He crushed a pitch deep into the right field bushes for a 408-foot opposite field walk-off grand slam. It was recorded as having an exit velocity of 118.7 mph, making it the hardest hit home run of the Swiss-Statscast era.
The game started off in embarrassing fashion, with rookie coach Croton handing in the line-up card to the umpires and then forgetting his own batting order by the time he got back to the bench. This start was quickly overshadowed by Chris Horne who was on the mound for the Flyers in his Swiss debut. He was dialled-in from the beginning, dominating the Cardinals while hoping the offense would give him a lead earlier than they had done in game 1. His teammates did just that, jumping on Cardinals' right-hander Donnelly in the first inning. Hide Oshima smacked a run-scoring double to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. The score stayed this way until the 3rd inning, thanks to a combination of Horne mowing down opposing hitters, and the Flyers offense running themselves out of a promising rally by making all three outs through base-running mistakes. In the 3rd, the boys in blue finally put up a crooked number. Leemann drove in a run with a double to center, and Jeremy Schreiber followed with a line drive to left for his first base-hit in Switzerland to drive in a pair. While he didn't elevate the ball enough to hit it out, the exit velocity of 115.4 mph promises good things to come. The Cardinals got two of the runs right back in the top of the 4th. Another Perigo hit and an infield error allowed them to score two unearned runs. The Flyers never let it get any closer than that, as Horne continued to pound the zone with power-sinkers and disgusting curve-balls. The offense tacked on one insurance-run after another over the next 4 innings. They were lead by Javier Rodriguez who went 3-4, while Lefty Oshima, Schreiber and Castillo notched two hits apiece. After 7, with the Flyers leading 8-2, Taka Oshima took over on the mound and had no problems closing out the win for the Flyers with two scoreless innings.
The Flyers now have a weekend off and are back on the field on May 14th in Sissach to take on the Frogs.
Photos by Sacha Grossenbacher