NLA Game 23, Sep. 18, 04

Challengers 210531113181
Barracudas 0000001151
W: Schaub, W. L: Von Burg

Challengers trash Barracudas 13-1, take 2-1 Series lead

The Challengers let their bats speak in Game 3 of this year's Playoff Semifinals against the Zürich Barracudas, beating them 13-1 to take a 2-1 lead.

 <a href="" title="See Player Profile for Thomas Landis">Thomas Landis</a> didn 
Thomas Landis didn't allow a run, but he didn't pitch long enough to get the win.
With just one win left to qualify for the Playoff Finals, the Challengers are in the driver's seat to make their fifth trip to the Finals in the last seven seasons.

Starter Thomas Landis again pitched a gem, the relievers did their job to finish his work, and the offense came alive against all three Barracuda pitchers.

After the Challengers scored just two runs in Game 2 off Nderim Coma and James Sanders, they came out firing in the first innings against starter Ueli Von Burg.

Helped by a fielding error by second baseman Miguel Conde with two outs, the Challengers scored two unearned runs in the top of the first inning.

In the second inning, Harry Bregy plated Oliver Labhart with his first of three hits in the game for a 3-0 lead.

In the meantime, Landis cruised through the Barracuda lineup, retiring eight consecutive batters at one point from the end of the first to the beginning of the fourth inning.

A rundown in the first inning also helped the Challengers' cause.

On a first-and-third situation, Sanders took off from first. Catcher Tobias Siegrist fired a throw, but not to the base but right back to the pitcher.

 <a href="" title="See Player Profile for Saentis Zeller">Saentis Zeller</a> was one of five batters who collected three hits each. 
Saentis Zeller was one of five batters who collected three hits each.
Hirtz got fooled and was initially trapped in a rundown between third and home.

The Challengers made three throws before third baseman Saentis Zeller dropped the ball, making it look as if the play was over.

But Sanders had taken a huge lead from second and was already halfway between second and third.

So Zeller was able to pick up the loose ball and go after Sanders.

Hirtz who was already back at third, was forced to empty the base for the oncoming Sanders, racing again for home.

Zeller then elected to make a final throw, nailing Hirtz between third and home for the out.

After that, Landis retired the next eight batters before hitting Sanders with a pitch in the fourth inning.

 <a href="" title="See Player Profile for Roger Brunner">Roger Brunner</a> closed the game but not before allowing the only Barracuda run of the game in the final inning. 
Roger Brunner closed the game but not before allowing the only Barracuda run of the game in the final inning.
By walking Farid Bekkali, the Barracudas again had a great scoring chance with just one out.

But Coma and Stähli both struck out to end the threat.

In the top of that inning, the Challengers had taken a huge 8-0 lead by batting around and scoring five runs.

The first five batters reached on three singles, a double and a walk, and later came around to score.

In the next inning, Barracudas coach Stephan Suter lifted Von Burg in favor of Coma, but he didn't fare much better.

He was greeted by Zeller's single and Bregy's double, and back-to-back sacrifice flies by Landis and Siegrist pushed two more runs across the plate.

Chris Hardy's third single of the game even made it 11-0.

Landis then started to wear out in the bottom of the inning.

He injured himself slightly the day before the game, so his arm strength was limited.

After loading the bases with three walks, coaches Chris Palatinus and Adrian Kämpfer">Adrian Kämpfer decided to lift him.

Willy Schaub took over and ended the threat by getting both Hirtz and Sanders to pop out easily to right field.

Schaub also started the next inning, but being held to a short leash, he was replaced by Roger Brunner after walking the leadoff batter.

Brunner went on to pitch the final two innings, allowing only pinch-hitter Strzodka to score the only run in the seventh inning.

Game 4 will be at the Heerenschürli on September 25 at 2pm, with a Game 5 on Sunday, September 26, if necessary.

Game notes
The last time a Challengers team had five players with at least three hits each was in Game 1 of August 19, 2001's doubleheader against the Embrach Rainbows. ...The total of 18 hits is the most this season by the Challengers, and the highest total since getting 19 on September 14, 2003 against the Bern Cardinals.