Week 7 of the Czech Extraliga saw last year’s finalists Arrows Ostrava and Draci Brno engage in a thrilling series, with Arrows avenging last year’s final defeat. The series victory solidified the Arrows’ position atop the league standings. TOP6 positioning was on the line elsewhere in the league, with Tempo Prague now just one game out of the TOP6 after winnings its series against the Trebic Nuclears, who currently hold the final playoff spot, while Hrosi Brno won its series against the newcomers from Hluboka, with the two teams now neck-and-neck in the middle of the playoff pack.
Arrows Ostrava vs Draci Brno (9-7, 5-3, 7-8)
The rematch of last year’s final had plenty on offer, with league-leader Arrows cementing their position atop the 2021 standings after taking two of three from the defending champion. The first two games required comebacks by the Ostrava club, with Draci returning the favor in a dramatic Game Three.
In Game One, Draci led 7-0 after three and one-half innings thanks to home runs by Arnost Dubovy and Adam Hajtmar, but Arrows responded with nine unanswered runs over the next three innings to take a 9-7 lead, the game’s final result. For Arrows, RBI-machine Petr Cech continued his outstanding season at with the bat, hitting a grand slam and driving in five runs in total on a 2-for-4 effort at the plate.
Game Two saw Arrows trailing 3-2 heading into the home half of the eighth inning, but three runs allowed the Ostrava club to turn the tide, with a strong relief effort by Alec Lemmon in his Extraliga debut (3IP, 1ER, 4K) securing the second victory of the series.
Game Three was the most dramatic of the weekend. Trailing 7-4 in its last turn at bat, Brno managed to score the runs needed to force extra innings, with the third run coming on a Martin Kalabek single with two outs in the inning. In the extra frame, Arnost Dubovy, who went 4-for-5 with three RBI in the game, brought home the winning run for Draci, with the win a big boost for the defending champion as the Extraliga standings tighten.
Nuclears Trebic vs Tempo Prague (1-4, 7-1, 12-13)
The Trebic-Tempo duel for the final spot in the TOP6 ended with the Prague club picking up one game in the standings. Tempo now sits in seventh place, right behind the Nuclears, which have cooled off after a 5-4 start.
Tempo’s Marek Minarik again performed well, both on the mound and at the plate. He was dominant in a Game One complete game victory, striking out 13 while allowing just one earned run, and he added a grand slam in Game Three.
Game Two saw the Nuclears dominate with their pitching, with Justin Revels continuing his strong season. He pitched seven scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 2.13. Revels collected his fourth W of the campaign after Tomas Zachoval pitched two innings of solid relief to claim the W for Trebic.
Game Three had more offense on offer, and more drama as well, with the game decided after seven runs had scored in extra innings. Tempo led 7-0 after Minarik’s grand slam, but the Nuclears fought back and tied the game with a run in the top half of the ninth. In extra innings, the Nuclears took the upper hand with three runs in the tenth, but the Prague hosts brought home four, with the deciding run forced home after Jake Rabinowitz walked with the bases load.
Blansko’s Game One victory, only its second this season, was due largely to the strong pitching of Stepan Havlicek. In a complete game effort, Havlickek allowed just three hits and struck out 11. “I felt great and the guys played perfect baseball,” the winning pitcher said. “Our spectators also helped, they were a big support. We have been waiting for this victory for a long time.”
Game Two saw Blansko collect just three hits on its way to a 3-0 defeat, but Game Three promised more, with the club leading 5-2 heading into the final frame. The host Eagles scored four runs to claim a walk-off victory, however, with Andrew Cosgrove driving in the winning run. “I am happy … We have a young team but gave it a push and succeeded,” said Cosgrove, who also added a two-run homer in the 6-5 victory.
The suprising newcomers from Hluboka took Game One after another pitching gem from Jan Novak, who allowed just two hits in a complete game effort. The shutout lowered the left-hander’s ERA to a microscopic 0.19. He has allowed just one earned run in 47 innings of work, with batters hitting just .108 against him. However, Novak’s incredible run of consecutive double-digit strikeout games came to an end at five, as only six Hippos went down on strikes.
Game Two saw Hrosi’s pitching staff respond with a two-hit shutout effort of its own. The 20-year-old Martin Grundmann allowed the two hits over eight innings, and punched out 11 batters while doing so, and 17-year-old Matej Netopilik closed out the game with an inning of scoreless relief.
Game Three saw the bats awake on both sides, with the two clubs combining for 27 hits (and eight errors). Unfortunately for Hluboka, 16 of the hits were by Brno’s batters, who also stole four bases, thus giving the hosts the upper hand and the 12-8 win.
Blesk Jablonec vs Kotlarka Prague (14-5, 7-1, 2-4)
The Extraliga newcomers from Jablonec claimed their first Extraliga series after two big wins against the struggling Prague club. The duel between the two clubs at the bottom of the standings was pivotal as next season’s Extraliga will contract from ten teams to just eight. After the weekend series, Kotlarka’s hold on the eighth spot was weakend, with Blesk now trailing Kotlarka by just one game.
The Jablonec offense was aided by nine walks and collected 24 hits on its way to scoring 21 runs in the two wins, with Mario Gottschall accounting for five of those hits. He added three RBI.
In Game Three, Kotlarka’s Lukas Ercoli delivered a dominant pitching performance (7.1IP, 4H, 0ER, 13K) to keep the capital city club one game ahead of the rivals from Jablonec.