The fourth weekend in the Czech Extraliga saw all five series avoid the sweep, though Eagles Prague took two of three from Hrosi Brno to move into a tie for first place with Hrosi.
Eagles Prague vs. Hrosi Brno (10:0, 9:8, 2:4)
The Eagles took two of three from Hrosi to leave both teams with an 8-4 record atop the Extraliga standings after four weeks of play. Game One was all Eagles, with the Prague club using nine base hits, five Hrosi errors, and seven bases on balls to put 10 runs on the scoreboard. Tomas Duffek pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out 12, and the 15-year-old Simon Vyklicky added three strikeouts of his own in an inning of relief to complete the shutout.
The first leg of Saturday’s doubleheader had more drama to offer, with Hrosi jumping out to an 8-1 lead after four innings of play. The Eagles woke up in the fifth, however, with five runners coming home in the inning, and another two touching home plate in the sixth to tie the game at eight runs apiece. Matej Hejma broke the stalemate in the eighth with a solo homer, his first of the season, giving Eagles the 9-8 lead it would hold onto for the win. Carson Goldsmith picked up the W on the back of 3.1 innings of shutout relief (2H, 5K).
Hrosi avoided the sweep by winning the second leg of Saturday’s doubleheader 4-2, with all of Hrosi’s runs coming in the fourth. Hrosi’s 20-year-old Martin Grundmann threw seven strong innings (7H, 6K, 0R) to pick up his first win of the season.
Olympia Blansko vs. Trebic Nuclears (6:5, 2:3, 9:10)
Blansko returned to play after a two-week delay caused by positive COVID-19 results in the squad and showed no rust, securing its first victory of the season and losing the two other games in the series by just a hair.
The Venezuelan hurler Luis Rengel was impressive in Game One for Blansko, collecting 13 strikeouts in five innings of work. Trebic’s Ryan Johnson matched him almost strikeout for strikeout, collecting 12 punch-outs of his own in six innings. The Canadian moundsman left the game with a 4-0 lead, with his six shutout innings extending his scoreless-inning streak to 23. Blansko immediately took advantage of his absence, scoring five in the bottom of the seventh. The club scored twice more in the ninth and celebrated a walk-off victory after the second run scored on a Trebic error. “It was a good example that baseball ends with the last out. We did very well and fought until the end,” said Blansko pitcher Vaclav Taus.
Game Two was a close affair with limited offense (10 hits were scattered by the two pitching staffs), with Blansko limiting the Nuclears offensively by intentionally walking Johnson three times. Nevertheless, Trebic took a 3-1 lead into the eighth and had Justin Revels close it out in 1.2 innings (2K) of scoreless relief.
Game Three was an extra-innings nail-biter, with the two teams trading runs in the 10th, 11th, and 12th innings to force a 13th. Blansko scored twice in the top half of the extra frame, but the Nuclears brought home one more than the visitors in the bottom half, giving them the 10-9 victory.
In a losing cause, Rengel pitched another five innings in relief, adding 12 strikeouts to his haul from Game One.
Draci Brno vs. Kotlarka Prague (2:0, 14:3, 1:2)
The series went in Draci’s favor, with the defending champion unable to seal the sweep by dropping the second leg of Saturday’s doubleheader. Milestones were reached during the weekend, with Draci’s Arnost Dubovy collecting his 500th Extraliga hit and Kotlarka’s player-manager Scott Mulhearn scoring his 200th run.
Game One was a pitcher’s duel between Draci’s Radim Chroust (8IP, 4H, 0R, 8K) and Kotlarka’s Lukas Ercoli (7IP, 7H, 2R, 8K), with Chroust picking up his second win of the season. He lowered his ERA to 0.43 while doing so, good for second in the league behind only Sokol Hluboka’s ace Jan Novak (0.39 ERA).
Game Two was a different matter altogether, with Draci’s offense producing 14 runs en route to a seven-inning victory. The 47-year-old Pavel Budsky homered and drove in four. Adam Hajtmar had three RBI.
Game Three, like the first contest in the series, saw strong pitching performances, with Kotlarka’s Tate Gillespie (6IP, 4H, 1R, 4K) getting the best of David Mergans (6IP, 3H, 2R, 9k) for his first Extraliga win. “That was a lot of fun today,” Gillespie said in his vlog when talking about the contest, which had been rescheduled due to weather. “My defense made some really good, really clutch plays behind me,” he added.
Mergans’ biggest mistake was the two-run homer Mulhearn hit, the big fly providing all the offense Kotlarka would need to avoid the sweep. The 21-year-old Frantisek Novak and Stepan Dupal combined for three innings of shutout relief to secure the W for Kotlarka.
Tempo Prague vs. Arrows Ostrava (1:4, 1:22, 6:4)
Arrows took two of three from Tempo, with new import Tyler Smith stealing the show in Game One. He homered in his Extraliga debut, his three-run homer providing all the runs Arrows would need to defeat their opponents from the capital.
Game Two was all Arrows, with the club scoring 22 runs on 15 hits, five of them landing over the fence. Petr Cech homered and drove in five runs. Brett Holtz went yard as well and had four RBI in a 3-for-5 showing at the plate.
Sunday afternoon’s Game Three went in Tempo’s favor, with Czech international Marek Minarik hitting his league-leading sixth home run of the season and Team Israel pitcher Joey Wagman solid in five innings of work (3H, 1R, 5K) to collect his second win of the season.
Sokol Hluboka vs. Blesk Jablonec (0:8, 9:6)
Due to poor weather on Sunday, the league newcomers played only their Saturday doubleheader, with the two clubs dividing the spoils. “Jiri Hikl (7IP, 7K, 4H, 0R) did a great job on the mound as usual. Jonas Vybora had a two-run homerun and we added the runs bit by bit,” remarked Blesk pitcher Karel Riedl about the team’s shutout victory in Game One.
Game Two was won by Hluboka, 9-6, with Martin Machacek hitting a grand slam in the fifth that helped the home team take a 7-1 lead. The club would add another two runs to fortify its advantage, but a five-run top of the eighth threatened a Blesk sweep. Enter reliever Wesley Roemer, who struck out the side in the ninth to continue his streak of appearances (seven games, eight innings pitched, 13K) without an earned run.