NLA Spiel 20, Jul. 29, 01

Barracudas 1015200018203
Challengers 276601x22244
W: Zöllig L: Bekkali

Challengers rally from 10-run deficit to win 22-18

Not even a 10-run deficit can bother a Challenger team on fire.

Armin Blickenstorfer went 4-for-4, collected four RBI's, scored three times and even stole two bases.
Trailing 10-0 after the first and 16-9 after the second inning, the Challengers came back in the fourth inning by scoring six runs en route to a crueling 22-18 defeat of their crosstown rivals Zurich Barracudas in Game 1 of Sunday's doubleheader at the Heerenschürli.

Starter Benny Räber pitched one of his shortest games as he was roughed up for 10 earned runs in just 2-3 innings of work, allowing 10 baserunners on eight hits - two of them home runs - and two walks before being lifted for reliever Patrick Zöllig.

Zöllig (1-0) faced just two more batters before finishing the first inning, and he went on to pitch the next three innings, as well.

Jose Valdez also had a game-high four hits, but only one RBI.
Zöllig allowed just one more run in the top of the second inning before the Challengers jumpstarted their offense off starter Nderim Coma in the bottom half of the inning.

Coma faced 10 batters in the second inning alone before Armin Blickenstorfer's RBI-single chased him. That single was also the 4'500th hit in Challengers team history.

Reliever Jeff Cloos allowed one more RBI-single before closing off the inning, but the Challengers crept within two runs.

Zöllig ran into a bump on the road to his victory in the third inning as he allowed the first six batters to reach safely. Five of them scored to give the Barracudas again a commanding 16-9 lead.

Roger Brunner hits his second homer of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Reliever Sandro Giambonini received the ball to open the bottom of the third, and he started well by striking out Zöllig. But the next five batters got on, and Blickenstorfer capped the inning with a three-run blast that made Giambonini's day.

Coma again took over, and he was greeted by Roger Brunner's solo homer to cut the Barracudas' lead to a narrow 16-15.

Zöllig allowed just two more runs to score in the top of the fourth inning on Farid Bekkali's solo homer and an RBI-double by Giambonini.

Patrick Zöllig picked up his first win of the season by pitching 3 1-3 innings in relief.
And the Challengers knew that the Barracudas would have a hard time to score any more runs in the final three innings since closer Manny Marchant would get the assignment to shut the door.

But the Challengers first had to take the lead, and they did it in big fashion as the first five batters reached on three singles, a double and a walk. Coma was again chased by Blickenstorfer who singled off him, making way for reliever Bekkali.

And Brunner did the same to Bekkali as he did to Coma an inning earlier: greet the reliever with a homer.

One more run scored to give the Challengers a temporary 21-18 lead, and it proved to be enough as Marchant was on fire again.

Barracudas pitchers gave up a combined 17 earned runs, the same amount as Challenger pitchers, but nevertheless fared worse.
He allowed just three baserunners in the final three innings on a double, a single and a dropped third strike. But none of them was able to score, giving Marchant his first save of the season, and the Challengers their 10th win a row.

Game notes
Both Jose Valdez and Chris Palatinus got their 200th NLA-hits in the third inning on a double each. ...Marchant has now pitched 12 scoreless innings this season, and he also collected his 100th RBI in the NLA with an RBI-single in the fourth inning. ...Brunner singled in his 400th NLA at-bat in the second inning. He also set career-highs with his 28th run scored and his sixth homer of the season.