By: Gabriel Fidler
Austria’s eastern division continued its impressive run of late, taking all eight games against its western rivals in convincing fashion, with only two games finishing at four runs or closer. Both of those came in the Diving Ducks’ hosting of West Division leaders Dornbirn, with the Saturday doubleheader causing at least a few spectators to hold onto the edges of their seats.
Dornbirn Indians at Wiener Neustadt Diving Ducks 1 (0-1, 2-6)
A whopping five games were ended by mercy rule on Saturday, including three via shutout. The third blanking of the day, however, came in a nail-biting matchup in Wiener Neustadt between Dornbirn and the Diving Ducks. Through six, neither the Indians’ Ryan Rupp nor the hosts’ Alexander Kienberger had permitted a run.
In the seventh, Luis Carmago led off with his third hit of the day (of five surrendered by Dornbirn) and Julian Faulhaber nearly drove him in on a flyball to right. A sharp throw from Jochen Pfister to first nailed Carmago though, and the Indians had new life. However, Alexander Seidenberger singled with two outs and Rupp ran out of fuel, going to a 3-2 count on the next three batters, walking each before leaving the game after Seidenberger ambled home.
Neither bullpen would allow a baserunner the rest of the way and Rupp (3-2) was the hard-luck loser, punching out 11 in 6.2 frames despite lowering his ERA to 3.99. The southpaw is tied for the league lead in Ks with 49. Dornbirn, meanwhile, was involved in its second-straight 1-0 game.
The other strikeout leader is Dornbirn’s Game Two starter, Lochlan Southee, who was unavailable to pitch last weekend. With an active 27.2 shutout inning streak and a 0.27 ERA overall, Southee is the hottest pitcher in Europe. His 49 strikeouts have come in only 33 innings, during which opposing batters have hit .119/.172/.128. Without him, the Ducks scored three runs in the third in Game Two, relinquishing two of the runs in the following frame, holding on for a 6-3 victory. After only seven combined hits in Game One, the two sides collected only nine in the nightcap.
Neustadt has now won five in-a-row to narrow the gap for first place in the East to only 1.5 games. Dornbirn has lost three-of-four, but still has a four-game lead in the West.
Traiskirchen Grasshoppers at Hard Bulls (15-0, 24-3)
The Hoppers found the tonic for the offensive woes of their second game against Dornbirn last week by blasting the Bulls on the road. A nine-run third was more than enough for Tobias Kiefer, Kiefer had a no-hitter going until two outs in the fifth, when Yodal Nakamura beat out a softly hit ball to shortstop. The 19-year old Kiefer earned his third-straight win and maintained his 0.00 ERA on the season. The righty’s eight Ks gave him 33 in 20 innings, and he had two doubles and two walks in five trips to the plate.
Game Two followed a similar path, with Traiskirchen up 8-0 in the middle of the third, with Sascha Obermayer launching a grand slam that inning. The score read 12-3 through five, but a never-ending top of the seventh doubled the score. Niklas Fröhlich, Kiefer, and Michael Koller ripped three consecutive hits twice in the inning and, each time, two batters later, Obermayer drove home Kiefer and Koller with two-run safeties.
The Grasshoppers collected 28 hits in the seven frames. Koller and Lahsing collected four hits apiece, as did Obermayer, who drove in nine out of the nine-hole. Obermayer might be the most dangerous bottom of the order hitter in Europe right now after seven hits raised his batting line to .517/.611/.862. Philip Brenner followed a 2-for-5 Game One with a single, double, and homer in the 24-3 victory and Kiefer hit another double among three hits in Game Two, raising his season line to .353/.439/.500.
Feldkirch Cardinals at Vienna MetroStars (2-24, 0-17)
Vienna needed only 12 innings to sweep the hapless Cardinals, which have lost eight consecutive games. Game One was over in five, with the hosts hanging an “11” in the second, a “4” an inning later, and a “9” in the fourth, Vienna’s final at bat. Tobi Schermer drove in six with three doubles and Sammy Hackl, who had a stellar four-year career at universities on the U.S. West Coast, was 3-for-4 with a dinger, a double, four runs, and five RBI. Richard Alzinger (1-0) allowed only one hit in four innings, striking out five, but walking seven.
The nightcap was more of the same, with a 5-0 lead after one for the MetroStars, putting the game out of reach with five runs in the fifth and six in the sixth. Five players had two hits and three pitchers combined to strike out 11 and surrender only four hits in the shutout.
Attnang-Puchheim ASAK Athletics at Vienna Wanderers (10-12, 2-12)
The only Sunday games saw the capital’s other club twice score a dozen, but the two contests were very different. The Athletics had the brighter start, with Raphael Mayr driving a ball to right-center and racing all the way around to score, with James Jensen crossing home in front of home. David Burns then followed with a deep drive to left that allowed a more casual jog around the basepaths. The Wanderers answered with two in the second to set up a back-and-forth that would continue all game.
In the third, Jensen tripled and a Mayr single brought him home. Mayr himself would move around on a walk, a balk, and a wild pitch. In the fourth, a Fabian Hirnschal double, two walks, and an error accounted for the A’s third inning scoring before Hirnschal tied the game in the fifth with a sacrifice fly.
The two clubs continued their rollercoaster ride in the sixth with run-scoring singles from Andreas Lastinger and Jensen, the latter driving in two. However, Dan Kawanashi answered in the bottom half for Vienna, crushing a two-run homer to left center to narrow the deficit to 8-7. Jensen’s fourth hit of the day was a double in the eighth, scoring one, and Burns drove him home with a one-base hit.
In fitting fashion for the game, the MetroStars immediately rallied, with a Julio Díaz single, a walk, and an error loading the bases with one out. A groundball plated one and another free pass filled first base once more, and Hirnschal and Alexander Resel capitalized, each stroking two-run singles. Alessandro Valido (1-0) then mowed down the stunned Attnang-Puchheim club 1-2-3 and the Wanderers had a 12-10 win.
The Wanderers took the easier route to the victory later that day, with a three-run first that included another inside-the-park home run, this time by Georg Stemmer for the hosts. Another two in the third added to the advantage, and a six-run sixth put the game out of reach. Hiro Sakanashi had a two-run double in the frame, one of three hits on the day for him. Daniel Walenta (3-0) kept the Athletics off balance in a complete game six-hitter, surrendering only one earned run, and he has a 1.08 ERA on the year. Four of those safeties were from Maciej Wróblewski.
|W. Neustadt D. Ducks||7-4||3-4||.692||1.5||7-2||0-2||68||74||W5|
|Schwechat Blue Bats||2-6||0-4||.000||5||0-0||2-6||86||81||W2|
Week 5 Results (May 8-9)
Cardinals 2 – MetroStars 24 (7) [Box]
Grasshoppers 15 – Bulls 0 (7) [Box]
Indians 0 – Diving Ducks 1 [Box]
Cardinals 0 – MetroStars 17 (7) [Box]
Grasshoppers 24 – Bulls 3 (7) [Box]
Indians 2 – Diving Ducks 6 [Box]
Athletics 10 – Wanderers 12 [Box]
Athletics 2 – Wanderers 12 (7) [Box]
Home team listed second.