The Czech Extraliga continues on the first weekend of May with Sokol Hluboka (6-3) welcoming fellow newcomer Blesk Jablonec (1-8) to Hluboka on Saturday.
Sokol and Blesk know each other well from the first division, although both strengthened their squads in preparation for the 2021 Extraliga. In Jablonec, the 22-year-old Slovak talent Mario Gottschall (.273/.333/.364), Blesk’s top batter, is on loan from Technika Brno, while the American Jimmy Smiley (4.71 ERA, 21 IP) leads the Blesk pitching staff.
Hluboka success has been driven by its quality pitching, with three of the Extraliga’s top hurlers wearing the team’s jersey. New Zealander Jimmy Boyce (1.50 ERA, 12 IP), Australian Billy Parsons (1.35, 20 IP), and Czech ace Jan Novak (0.39 ERA, 23 IP) — who in his first three matches has collected no fewer than eleven strikeouts (12-12-11) and set an Extraliga record while doing so — highlight the pitching attack. In relief, Wesley Roemer has yet to give up an earned run in 5.2 innings of work.
With the team’s batters producing a collective slash line of just .242/.337/.304, manager Zdenek Josefus is aware of the team’s reliance on pitching, which is why practice this week was focused on revving the struggling Hluboka offense, which is led by Roemer (.385/.500/.538) and Michal Soukup (.364/.462/.364).
First pitch on Saturday, May 1, is at 13:00 (CEST), with youngster Petr Petrta scheduled to toe the rubber for the first time in Extraliga action. “We want to give more and more opportunities to our youngsters and that is why Petrta will start the first match,” club chairman and pitcher David Stastny said. Boyce is scheduled to start the second leg of the Saturday doubleheader, with the Czech interational Novak on the mound in Jablonec on Sunday (13:00 CEST).
Elsewhere in the Extraliga, Week 4 action began on Thursday, with Olympia Blansko (1-3) securing its first win of the season thanks to a 7-6 home victory over the Trebic Nuclears (5-5). Blansko had been sidelined the past two weekends due to positive Covid-19 results on the squad.
The weekend’s other series include Draci Brno (4-2) v. Kotlarka Prague (3-6), Arrows Ostrava (4-2) v. Tempo Prague (3-6) and Eagles Prague (6-3) v. Hrosi Brno (7-2) .