NLA Spiel 9, Jun. 05, 99

Challengers 7210011121410
Barracudas 103230211102
W: Landis L: Bekkali S: Marchant

Challengers withstand Barracudas' rally, win 12-11

The Challengers started strong but finished weakly in game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader against their arch rivals Barracudas from Zurich. They blew a 10-1 lead and barely managed to stay atop for a 12-11 victory.

Thomas Landis went 2-for-4 in game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader.
After two bitter losses against the front-running Therwil Flyers last weekend, the Challengers beat their long-time rivals Barracudas in a game that was similar to last weekend's game 1.

The Challengers again started very strong, putting seven runs on the board against starter Farid Bekkali, one of three former Challengers that now play for the Barracudas. The runs came on Anubis Benitez' solo homer to lead of the game, Roger Brunner's two-run shot, Chris Palatinus' two-run double, Benitez' RBI-single and a balk by Bekkali that scored Palatinus.

The balk call was the first of seven called in the game by the umpires.

Roger Brunner is greeted at the plate by Anubis Benitez (left) and Manny Marchant (right) after his two-run homer in the top of the first inning.
The Barracudas scored just once off starter Thomas Landis. It was a production of the two other former Challengers as Peter Luisi hit an RBI-single that scored Ueli Von Burg.

The Challengers extended their lead to 9-1 after two innings and Bekkali was relieved by Nico Kölliker at the start of the third inning.

He quickly gave up a walk to Landis but managed to induce Jose Valdez to hit into a double play. But Brunner followed with another walk, and Kölliker was victimized by the first of two balk calls against him. Joe Cox followed with an RBI-double for the Challengers' tenth run.

Barracudas starter Farid Bekkali lasted just two innings, giving up seven earned runs on seven hits and five walks while striking out none.
The Barracudas then profited from the first errors made by the Challenger defense, and sent nine batters to the plate to score three runs - two of them unearned. Marc Riva led off with a solo four-bagger and Palatinus' relay throw to first after forcing Kölliker at second was wide and enabled Knecht to score from second. Two more throwing errors by Palatinus and Landis scored one more Barracuda run.

In the fourth inning, Valdez bobbled a ball at first base and made a wide throw to third base and two more Barracudas scored.

But believe it or not, it came even worse. The Challengers made five errors in the following inning and let the Barracudas close the gap to 10-1. Last week, the Challengers lost a 9-1 lead against the Flyers in game 1 as they allowed them to score 13 runs in the top of the sixth.

This time, the Challengers held on to their slim one-run lead, and even scored some more when Cox hit an RBI-single in the top of the sixth and Valdez hit a solo homer the next inning.

Anubis Benitez
3rd baseman
Anubis Benitez
The Barracudas entered the bottom of the seventh, trailing 12-9. In came reliever Manny Marchant who took over from Oli Christen after pitching a scoreless sixth inning. He quickly struck out Holgi Schmidt, but hit Riva with a pitch. Nderim Coma followed with a two-run shot to close the gap to 12-11. Marchant issued another base-on-balls before getting Kölliker to ground out to first for the second out. Knecht moved to third and 90 feet away from tying the game on Marchant's balk. Substitute Castro could have tied the game but he poorly struck out on three pitches.

Game Notes: Valdez grounded into two double plays, but then hit his 10th homer in nine games this season in the top of the seventh. ...Brunner's two RBI's in the first inning were his 100th and 101st of his NLA-career.