NLA Game 25, Oct. 02, 04

Challengers 42301000010164
Barracudas 000121003782
W: Landis, Th. L: Coma S: Bregy, H.

Challengers return to Finals by beating Cudas 10-7 in Game 5

The Challengers earned their fifth trip to the Finals in the last seven seasons by beating their crosstown rivals Zürich Barracudas 10-7 in Game 5 of the Playoff Semifinals.

 <a href="" title="See Player Profile for Anubis Benitez">Anubis Benitez</a> launches a first-inning grand slam off Nderim Coma. 
Anubis Benitez launches a first-inning grand slam off Nderim Coma.
The game was as intense as any of the games between those two, and the winner would have to fight until the last out was made.

Thomas Landis worked five strong innings in which he allowed only three runs – two of them unearned – to get his seventh win of the season.

His offense provided him with an early lead, and his work was saved by relievers Willy Schaub and Harry Bregy.

The Challengers faced Nderim Coma, but he wasn’t very sharp that day.

Three of the first four batters reached safely, paving the way for Anubis Benitez’ grand slam homer.

And the Challengers didn’t stop there and again loaded the bases after that.

But Saentis Zeller popped out to second baseman Ueli Von Burg for the third out to end the threat.

But Bregy’s two-run single with two outs extended the Challengers’ lead to 6-0, and another blow out was almost inevitable.

<a href="" title="See Player Profile for Tobias Siegrist">Tobias Siegrist</a> hit a career-high three doubles, two of them off closer <a href="" title="See Player Profile for James Sanders">James Sanders</a>.
Tobias Siegrist hit a career-high three doubles, two of them off closer James Sanders.
The Barracudas changed pitchers only after Nick Lehmann’s RBI-single pushed the score to 8-0, and Von Burg was given the assignment to keep the damage in check.

But his defense didn’t hold up and allowed another unearned run for a temporary 9-0 lead.

The Barracudas got on the board as Landis walked pinch-hitter Daniel Stähli with the bases loaded to force in a run.

Bregy’s sac fly in the next inning erased that run right away, but the Cudas now caught fire and kicked into second gear.

Sanders’ RBI-single and two fielding errors by third baseman Zeller in the fifth inning gave the Barracudas two more runs, trimming the Challengers’ lead to 10-3.

Schaub relieved Landis in the top of the sixth inning, and he had to allow one more unearned run.

In the last four innings, the Challengers’ bats were silenced by closer Sanders.

The Challengers walk onto the field after the final out to celebrate their qualification for the Finals.
The Challengers walk onto the field after the final out to celebrate their qualification for the Finals.
Siegrist’s two doubles and Zeller’s single were the only hits he allowed in the final four frames.

Schaub’s offspeed pitches rattled the Barraudas and they weren’t able to put any runners on base in the seventh and eight innings.

But facing elimination, the Cudas mounted one more threat in the final inning.

The first three batters of the inning reached safely on two singles and a double, and they scored two runs before Farid Bekkali finally grounded out for the first out.

Coma followed with an RBI-double to bring his team within three runs of the Challengers, but that was the sign for the Challengers’ coaching staff to bring closer Bregy.

He didn’t fail and retired the final two batters for his first save of his career.

The Challengers will return to the Finals after getting knocked out by the Bern Cardinals in Game 5 last season.

The Challengers could also become only the second team to win the double after the Cardinals did it in 2001.

Game notes
The matchup in the Finals between the Therwil Flyers and the Challengers is the fourth such encounter since 1999. The Challengers have won all three Series, and are hoping to win their record eighth National Title. ...Siegrist's three doubles equal a career-high set on May 14, 2000 against the Embrach Rainbows. He now has six doubles in his last three games. ...Benitez hit his last grand slam on September 28, 2002 against the Flyers.