NLA Game 31, Sep. 30, 12

Challengers 0110030005113
Cardinals 20125000x10162
W: Byrne, R. L: Girasole, A.

Cards sweep Series, end Challengers' season with 10-5 win

The Bern Cardinals won their 12th consecutive Playoff game against the Challengers, ending their season with a 10-5 victory in Game 2 of Sunday's doubleheader.

Ryan Byrne again proved to be too strong as he pitched five innings in relief to pick up his second win of the Series, and Andrea Girasole had his worst outing of the season as he allowed nine earned runs in 4 2-3 innings on 13 hits and two walks, while striking out one.

John Baum of the Cardinals went 4-for-5 with two doubles, and Samy Paulino, Johnny Perigo and Angelo Rodriguez each added three hits in a 16-hit attack that secured the Cardinals their eighth consecutive Finals berth.

The Challengers added 11 hits on their own with Robert Sedin, Craig Pycock, Kurt Kovac and Fabio Aimi all getting two hits. But a 3-for-19 showing with runners in scoring position brought just five runs home for the Challengers.

The Cardinals scored in the first inning for the third time in three games, profiting again from a defensive error and Perigo's RBI-single for a quick 2-0 lead.

The Challengers came back to tie the game by scoring once in each the second and third innings. Aimi's RBI-double and a wild pitch tied the game at 2 apiece, but the Cardinals retook the lead in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly to right by Raphael Hänzi.

They added two more in the fourth on Paulino's RBI-single and a double steal, and then roughed up Girasole in the fourth as they sent 11 batters to the plate.

After three consecutive singles with two outs, coach Chris Palatinus yanked Girasole and summoned Thomas Burger to the mound. He was greeted by another RBI-single by Perigo, but escaped further damage by getting Benji Waite to hit into an inning-ending fielder's choice to second baseman Saentis Zeller.

He went on to shut out the Cardinals over the next three innings, but the damage was already done, and the Challengers didn't find the right recipe against starter Tobias Imboden and reliever Byrne.

They managed to mount a small comeback in the top of the sixth as they scored three times, but cut their own rally short as they ran into an unnecessary tag out at home and an ill-advised advance to second base by Oliver Bernet that resulted in another tag out.

They again managed to put two runners in scoring position with no outs in the eighth, but another baserunning blunder that resulted in Aimi getting tagged out at home and a strikeout of Tobias Siegrist with the bases loaded resulted in zero runs.

In the ninth, they stranded one more runner in scoring position with one out, and ended their season as pinch-hitter Thomas Blank went down swinging.

Game and season notes

This year's pitching staff posted the best ERA in franchise history with a 3.59 mark. They also ranked second in strikeouts with 252 (only second to 1999's mark of 266) and in saves with five, and allowed only one home run all year. ...Challenger batters have hit only five homers, the lowest total in franchise history. They have set a new season record with 193 strikeouts (in 1,066 at-bats). And the collective on-base percentage of .344 is the lowest ever, topping last year's mark of .354. ...Sedin's three triples equal the single-season record held by Jesus Martinez (2010) and Siegrist (2003). His 26 steals are the highest mark since Anubis Benitez robbed 28 bases in 2000. His ERA of 1.61 is second on the alltime list only to James Sanders' 1.41 of 2010. But his WHIP (baserunners per inning pitched) of 0.96 tops Sanders's previous record of 1.03 (also in 2010). ...Girasole became the first Challenger pitcher since Thomas Landis in 2004 to post at least eight wins. ...Zeller set a new career high with 49 hits in 119 at-bats. He had 15 multi-hit games, topping his career-best of 13 such games in 1996. He had just two games all year where he went hitless. ...Martinez' walk in the third inning was his 50th in the NLA with the Challengers. ...Harry Bregy struck out a career-high 20 times in 55 at-bats. ...Blank struck out a career-high 17 times in 73 at-bats. ...Burger set a new career-best with an ERA of 2.82 in 22 1-3 innings pitched. ...Bryan Shemley set a new career-high with four sacrifice bunts in 2012. ...Siegrist's ERA of 3.53 is a career best, and puts him in 10th place on the Challengers' alltime list. His 11 strikeouts at the plate tied his season-high set in 1999 and 2009. He also finished just third in hits with 40, the first time since 2003 that he didn't finish in first or second place for hits.