Round Six of action in the Czech Republic provided more clarity as to which clubs are likely headed for the playoffs, though the standings as a whole are still a logjam. Only one club was able to win three games over the weekend, but several won crucial series, including Ostrava in its series against Brno’s Hippos. It was the southeastern city’s Draci that took advantage, with its sweep of a strong Třebíč side causing a big shakeup in places No. 4 to 6 in the standings.
Arrows Ostrava v. Hrosi Brno (9-4, 10-3, 11-12)
Arrows took two of three from Hrosi to move to solidify their position atop the Extraliga standings. The two clubs are currently heading in different directions. After Week 4, Hrosi sat atop the league — together with Eagles Prague — with an 8-4 record, while Ostrava was joint third alongside Draci Brno with six wins and three losses. Arrows now find themselves with a narrow lead over Sokol Hluboka, while Hrosi are in fifth place, just one game ahead of the Trebic Nuclears.
Petr Cech and Tyler Smith led the way for Arrows, with the two batters driving in 14 of the club’s 30 runs over the weekend. Cech did the heaviest lifting, driving in 10 runs on a 6-for-14 effort at the plate. He hit two homers, bringing his season total to five. Smith contributed five hits, including a homer in Game One and a triple in a losing effort on Sunday.
On the mound, the top performance was delivered in Game One by Arrows starter Ondrej Satoria, who struck out 10 batters in a complete game to pick up his fourth consecutive win.
Sokol Hluboka v. Kotlarka Prague (9-1, 3-2, 6-8)
The newcomers from Hluboka continue to impress in their return to the Extraliga, with the club’s strong pitching again on display last weekend. The club now sits in second place with a 12-5 record, its spot in the TOP6 all but assured.
Hluboka ace Jan Novák silenced the Kotlarka offense in Game One, allowing no runs in seven innings of work (3H, 11K). It was Novák’s fifth-straight game with double digit strikeouts. Martin Muzik and Vasil Zhupanin swung the big bats, each driving home three runs to lead Hluboka to victory.
Game Two saw a pitcher’s duel go Hluboka’s way, with William Parsons and Jimmy Boyce combining to limit Kotlarka to two runs on six hits, one of those hits a Scott Mulhearn home run that gave Kotlarka an early 1-0 lead after two innings. Hluboka responded with a run in the third and two more in the fourth, and held on for the 3-2 win.
Game Three had more action on offer, with the two clubs combining for 21 hits and 11 walks. After seven innings, it looked as if Hluboka was on its way to a sweep, but Kotlarka added two runs in the eighth to take a one run lead and tacked on another run for good measure in the ninth. The victory was important as it added some separation between Kotlarka and Blesk Jablonec for the eighth spot in the standings.
Eagles Prague v. Tempo Prague (10-9, 6-7, 4-3)
The Eagles prevailed in what was certainly the weekend’s closest series, as the Prague derby featured a pair of one-run games. Game Two and Game Three were both decided in the final frame, and Tempo’s ninth-inning comeback in Game One fell short after the club scored twice but not could bring the tying run home.
The first two games of the series were dominated by offense, even though Game One had two of the league’s top pitchers in Tomas Duffek (Eagles) and Joey Wagman (Tempo) toeing the rubber. The two starters struggled, with Duffek allowing seven runs in seven innings and Wagman allowing five earned in his five innings of work. Despite his struggles, Duffek (4-0) earned the victory, with the big bat of outfielder Matej Hejma, who went 3-for-5 with two homers and six RBI, providing the needed run support.
Game Two was a roller-coaster, with Tempo initially looking as if it would coast to an easy victory. Trailing 6-0 heading into the home half of the seven, Eagles scored four in the inning and added another pair of runs in the eighth to tie the score at six. The 17-year-old Michal Zelenka, who had been brought into the game in the bottom of the eighth, led off the ninth for Tempo and broke the tie with one swing, with the home run ultimately securing Tempo the victory. It was the second game in-a-row that Zelenka launched a crucial pinch hit-homer.
Game Three was equally dramatic, with host Eagles scoring twice in the ninth to claim the walk-off victory and the series. Even though he did not factor in the decision, Carson Goldsmith, who departed with the game tied at two, was key to Eagles claiming the W as he struck out a season-high 15 in just seven innings.
Draci Brno v. Trebic Nuclears (4-2, 9-5, 3-2)
One of the weekend’s most intriguing match-ups involved the two mid-table clubs battling for playoff positioning, and it was the defending champion that took all the spoils, sweeping the Nuclears to improve to 10-5 and leapfrog Trebic in the standings. The high-scoring Trebic offense was kept in check all weekend long (the Nuclears hit just one home run in the three game series), with Draci ace Radim Chroust pitching excellently in Friday night’s opener. He allowed just three hits and one run while striking out nine in seven innings of work to lower his ERA on the season to 1.32.
Game Two saw a bit more offense, with Draci using its 11 hits and eight free passes to put 11 runs on the scoreboard, and Game Three offered drama. Down 2-1 heading into the home half of the seventh, Michael Varga and Arnost Dubovy both hit RBI singles to give the hosts the 3-2 lead they would hold onto for the weekend’s third win.
Olympia Blansko v. Blesk Jablonec (5-12, 3-5)
With the Extraliga contracting to just eight teams in 2022, the league’s bottom two teams met up last weekend with one clear goal, and it was Jablonec that was able to capitalize on the situation, sweeping the two-game series to inch itself towards safety. Game Three was called off on Sunday, leaving Jablonec (4-12) one game behind Kotlarka Prague (6-12) in the standings.
Game One was decided in the fourth inning when Jablonec put six runs on the scoreboard to break a 3-3 tie. All told, the club collected 19 hits and was further aided by six Blansko errors. Game Two was a much closer affair, with Jablonec again breaking a 3-3 deadlock, this time in the eighth inning, when it scored one run to take a lead. It added an insurance run in the ninth for the final 5-3 result.
Graphics courtesy of the Czech Baseball Association.