NLA Game 31, Sep. 24, 00

Challengers 101003110774
Flyers 110000010383
W: Landis L: AKurz

Challengers capture 3rd title in a row by beating Flyers 7-3 in Game 5

The Challengers defended their title with a 7-3 win over the Therwil Flyers in Game 5 of the 2000 Swiss Finals.

The Challengers celebrate their third straight national title.
After trailing 2 games to 1 in the best-of-five Series the Challengers fought back for a 15-9 victory in Game 4, and then relied on Thomas Landis' performance on the hill in Game 5 to secure their record sixth national title in the franchise's history.

Landis pitched his third complete game of the Finals and allowed just three runs - one of them unearned - on eight hits, no walks while striking out six. He pitched 31 1-3 innings, giving up only 10 earned runs for an ERA of 2.87 and a record of 2-2 to earn MVP honors of the Finals. He also struck out 25 batters while walking 16.

Game 5 was a close affair for the first five innings as the two teams went neck-to-neck with the score tied at 2-2.

Anubis Benitez scored the go-ahead run on shortstop Reto Siegel's throwing error, but the Flyers tied it up on Koller's RBI-single that scored Siegel.

The Flyers went ahead in the bottom of the second inning on Stefan Siegel's sacrifice fly, but the Challengers came right back in the next inning to tie it as Landis hit a run-scoring ground out.

But Flyer starter Alain Kurz matched Landis' superb performance and pitched out of bases-loaded jams in the fourth and fifth innings to keep the game tied at 2-2.

Thomas Landis gave up only two earned runs in his third complete game of the Finals, earning MVP honors of the Finals.
But trouble started in the top of the sixth inning as Armin Blickenstorfer">Armin Blickenstorfer led off with a double and went on to score as shortstop Reto Siegel threw away Patrick Zöllig's ground ball at third base, enabling Blickenstorfer to score the go-ahead run.

With runners at third and second base, Jose Valdez hit a line drive to the fences in center field, plating both Zöllig and Landis to give the Challengers a 5-2 lead.

Valdez' two-run single finished Alain Kurz, and his brother Richard Kurz took over. He just threw two pitches to Manny Marchant before Valdez was caught stealing second base for the third out.

Landis continued to dominate the Flyers, allowing no baserunner past first base after Richard Kurz' single in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Meanwhile, the Challengers added a run apiece in the seventh and eighth innings to take a temporary 7-2 lead.

After retiring the first two batters in the bottom of the eighth frame, Djibril Traore reached on shortstop Zöllig's throwing error, and Fernando Abril was also safe as Zöllig committed his third error of the game. Traore went on to score for a 7-3 score.

Jose Valdez' two-run single opened up the game as the Challengers took a 5-2 lead.
Reto Siegel relieved Richard Kurz and blanked the Challengers over the final two innings, giving up only two walks.

But Landis got better and better as the game went on, and remained untouchable throughout the game.

In the ninth, Stefan Siegel led off with a single, but was erased as his brother Reto grounded into a fielder's choice.

Seppi Zwyer popped out to Valdez for the second out, and the Flyers threatened one more time as Koller hit a deep double. But Reto Siegel stopped at third base.

Landis faced veteran Roy Allenspach, and he was the last out as he hit a hard grounder to shortstop Zöllig, who came up with the ball and made a perfect throw to seal the Challengers' triumphant season.

Landis completed the game - for the third time in the Finals, and the sixth time this season - to give him a 2-2 record in the Finals and a 7-5 record on the season. It was his 62nd win of his NLA-career, topping all Challenger pitchers ever played for the team (Benny Räber is 2nd with 29 wins).

Anubis Benitez finished the season going 2-for-4, giving him a team-high .507 batting average.
After the game, emotions went high as the players and coaches celebrated the Challengers' triumph. Interim coach Chad Smith, who was hired for the playoffs, especially praised and thanked Andy Fleischacker for his great job he did for the big part of the season. He laid the foundation for a competitive team, and most of the credits belong to him.

Jim Stevens, who joined the team for the Finals, thanked the whole organization that he could be part of a great team that always showed a big heart and never gave up. He will stay with the team and pick up the pitching and catching practice by mid-November, while Smith is going back to the States.

Talks with Fleischacker also have resumed, and chances are that he might rejoin the team for next season.

Game notes: The Challengers set new team records for batting average (.430, breaking last season's record of .396), slugging percentage (.753, breaking last season's record of .731), on-base percentage (.504, breaking last season's record of .480), runs scored (471, breaking last season's record of 465), hits (499, breaking last season's record of 490), RBI's (400, breaking last season's record of 395) and doubles (141, breaking last season's record of 131). ...Benitez holds the new season records for most at-bats (146, breaking last season's record of 141 by Landis), hits (74, breaking last season's record of 66 by Valdez), runs (75, breaking last season's record of 67 by himself) and doubles (26, tying last season's record of 26 by Landis). ...Landis set a new career season-high by stealing 17 bases. He also tied his career season-high with 63 hits. His run in the sixth inning was his franchise-leading 300th run in his nine-year NLA-career. And he also passed Saentis Zeller for 2nd place on the Challengers' all-time batting average leaders with a .433 mark, trailing only Adris Linares who has a career .550 batting average for the Challengers. Pitchingwise, Landis already holds every franchise record, except ERA, but set a questionable milestone as Djibril Traore had the honour to be the 100th hit batter of his career. ...Nick Lehmann set career-highs in almost every offensive category, getting 56 hits in 134 at-bats for a .418 batting average, a .634 slugging average, 61 runs, 37 RBI's, 11 doubles, six homers, and 85 total bases. He also was hit six times by a pitch, and is now tied with Blickenstorfer with 18 HBP's in his career. ...Blickenstorfer broke his career-high of 29 runs scored in a season by crossing the plate for the 30th time in the sixth inning on Reto Siegel's throwing error. ...Chris Palatinus set career highs for at-bats (121), hits (48), RBI's (45), and total bases (83). ...Benny Räber set new career highs with 10 wins, 82 2-3 innings pitched, and 15 games started, completing four of them. His career NLA-record is 29-10, second only to Landis.