Brno Sports Weekly Report – Czechs Settle for Second in European Baseball Championships
The U23 Czech baseball team takes the silver medal at the European Championships. Photo: Jan Beneš
Brno, August 16 (BD) – Czechs settle for second in European Baseball Championships; plus, Lokomotiva Horni Herspice represents Brno in the top women’s football league, Zbrojovka earns a point, the Autumn Rugby Cup schedule is released, hockey stars earn 1.2 million crowns for charity, and the overall Brno sports schedule.
Brno Sports Weekly Report by Bruno Zalubil
Lokomotiva Keeps Brno in the Top Women’s Football League
Horni Herspice is a hidden gem of Brno. The bedroom community is just 10 minutes from the city center on the No. 12 tram, it has a popular bike path on both sides of the Svratka River, and there is a golf driving range, a FOLF course (combination of football, golf and minigolf) and an all-natural biotop pool.
Now, Horni Herspice also have one of the top women’s football teams in the Czech Republic: Lokomotiva Brno H. H.
“We’re relatively young,” said Lokomotiva head coach Tomáš Loder, in comments that were translated from Czech, “but we have some talented players.”
Lokomotiva dominated the second league in women’s football last year, finishing unbeaten (with only one tie) through the entire season. To that successful team, six new players have been added for the team’s promotion to the top league. (Lokomotiva switches places with crosstown FC Zbrojovka Brno, which was relegated from the top league.)
This Saturday, Lokomotiva will play its first top-league home game against one of the perennial top teams: AC Sparta Praha. The game starts at 11 a.m. at the Lokomotiva home field at Sokolova 2.
Like in the HET Liga, the Prague teams are strong. Sparta and Slavia will likely fight it out for the women’s top league title.
“The difference is in the speed,” Loder said about the first league. “Teams have more quality players and that quality is higher.”
Moving up to a higher league is never easy for any team, and this first year will be a struggle. Lokomotiva opened the season on the road against 1. FC Slovácko last Sunday. Clara Soquessa put Lokomotiva on the scoreboard in the sixth minute, but Slovácko scored six unanswered goals to win, 6-1.
“If we are able to protect our status in the first league this year,” Loder said, “I believe that we will be set up for the future.”
Žaneta Holcmannová brings years of experience to the team as the team’s captain and there are several young players who will grow with the added speed and quality of the top league.
Click here for the top women’s football league full schedule.
Three Strikeouts End Czech Title Hopes in Extra Innings
The Czech U23 baseball team rallied to send the championship game into extra innings, but they were unable to keep the momentum going and they went down swinging in the extra frame. Literally. Three consecutive Czechs struck out swinging and their monumental tournament came to a disappointing end.
The Netherlands won the title game, 10-9, in the 10th inning on Sunday to become the U23 European Baseball Champions.
The Czech Republic cruised through the group play, advanced easily through the quarter finals and semifinals, but the Netherlands was a tournament favorite for good reason. The title game took 4 hours and 41 minutes but it felt like it flew by for the standing-room only crowd at Městský Baseballový Stadion.
In extra innings, the rules put runners on first and second to speed up the finish of the game. The Netherlands took the lead with a long single in the gap between left and center field. It was a 2-2 count with two outs and it scored two.
In the bottom of the 10th inning, the Czechs, also with runners on first and second, needed two runs to stay alive and three to win. Marek Chlup walked to load the bases. Daniel Padysak walked to score a run. But three dramatic strike outs later the game was over.
It was a bitter pill to swallow after having played so well through the first five games of the tournament. The Czech Republic cruised through Group D play, using the mercy rule to finish three victories in less than the normal nine innings, beating Lithuania, 15-0, in six innings; Ukraine, 12-1, in seven innings; and Belgium, 17-0, in five innings.
Against France in the quarterfinals on Friday night, the Czech offense slowed a bit, but the pitching and defense continued nearly flawlessly for a 5-1 victory. In the fifth inning, moments after the start of a rain shower, Martin Muzik blasted a no-doubt-about-it, two-out, two-run home run over the left field fence. Muzik, who was clearly the top hitter of the group phase with eight hits in 10 at bats, tallied his third home run and 11 and 12th runs batted in of the tournament. An inning later, Chlup hit his own two-out, two-run homer to left field (sans the rain shower). Starting pitcher Ondrej Santoria allowed the only run in the seventh inning, yet he struck out nine, walked one, and gave up six hits. Tomas Ondra slammed the door shut, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out four in two innings.
In the semi-finals, the Czechs were a bit less overpowering against Spain, but they pulled out a 7-3 victory anyway. The team’s seven hits came from seven different players and Jan Novak got the win with six innings of work, giving up only four hits and three earned runs.
In the title game, the Czech Republic started poorly — committing an error and allowing an unearned run in the top of the first — but they rebounded quickly by running through the entire batting order in the bottom of the first inning, getting five walks and a hit to score three runs. They scored again in the second and third innings to seemingly put the game under control.
However, the Netherlands rallied in the top of the fifth inning. After two prescient quick-hook pitching changes earlier in the game, Czech pitcher Jiri Vavrusa was given a long leash in the sixth with the bases loaded. The next batter hit a double to score two and the next three pitches resulted in an RBI double, a deep shot to center that was caught for an out, and an RBI line drive through the left side of the infield. By the end of the inning, the Dutch had run through their entire lineup, scored five runs, and taken the lead.
Click for the tournament website (in English). For rosters, composite box scores, play-by-play, line scores, video, and final statistics, go to baseballstats.eu (in English). Replays of most of the games are available on playo.tv.
Dragon Rubgy Club Releases Autumn Cup Schedule
RC Dragon Brno will start play next week in the Autumn Rugby Cup at RC Tatra Smichov.
The first home game is Sept. 2 when they host RC Praga Praha. The game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m.
The Autumn Rugby Cup has seven weeks, including one bye, and concludes in early October. The regular league will start after the winter break.
Click here for the Autumn Rugby Cup schedule.
Zbrojovka 0, Bohemians 0
Though they held the ball for most of the game, showed creativity, and had several offensive opportunities, Zbrojovka was not able to put the ball into the net. They have one HET Liga point and two goals in three games.
Goalkeeper Dušan Melichárek saved a penalty kick in the 11th minute. Milan Lutonský was active throughout the game. And Miloš Kratochvíl hit the crossbar from 20 meters out in the 64th minute.
The next game is at Olomouc on Sunday at 5 p.m. Sparta is scheduled to come to Brno on Saturday, Aug. 26, at 5 p.m.
Click here to see a video recap of the game.
The game was strangely quiet because the flag-waving boosters were a muted presence. After an incident during the Banik Ostrava game two weeks earlier, the league fined Zbrojovka and threatened to ban all fans from the forthcoming home game against Sparta. Last year, 9,223 fans watched the Sparta-at-Zbrojovka game (an entertaining 3-3 tie), so an empty stadium would be a huge hit for fan interest, team support, and club finances.
Havlát Retires, Raises 1.2 Million Kc for Charity
Last Wednesday, “Martin Havlát and Mistři Dětem” brought most of the top players in Czech hockey to DRFG Arena for an appreciation Havlát’s career, to raise money for several charities, and to remind Brno that their defending champion Kometa will be starting their Tipsport Extraliga season on Friday, Sept. 8 against Oceláři Třinec at DRFG Arena at 5:20 p.m.
Officially, the Kometa team lost to the all-stars, but there was nothing official about the exhibition game. Nobody played at full speed. Both teams relied on intricate passes to move the puck. There were no slapshots and no body checks. The only foul was mostly theatrical, leading to a penalty shot saved by Kometa’s Marek Ciliak midway through the second period and giving the fans a reason to cheer as he exited the game. Really, the referees were puck boys.
Most of the sold out crowd of more than 7,000 got to see the famous players for the first time in real life. Jaromir Jagr scored a goal and few will forget the height discrepancy between the towering Slovak defender Zdeno Chara and everyone else. Sometimes television just doesn’t have the same impact as real life. Even non-hockey players played: Petr Cech, the millionaire goalkeeper for Arsenal, made a quick trip to Brno to play goalkeeper for the first period.
Brno Sports Schedule
• Thursday, Aug. 17
— Hockey: Kometa hosts Dukla, DRFG Arena, 6 p.m.
• Saturday, Aug. 19
— Women’s Football: Lokomotiva Brno H. H. versus AC Sparta Praha, Horni Herspice, 11 a.m.
• Sunday, Aug. 20
— Football: Zbrojovka at Olomouc, 5 p.m.
• Saturday, Aug. 26 2017
— Football: Zbrojovka Brno versus Sparta Praha, Srbska, 5 p.m.
The Brno Sports Report is published every Wednesday. All dates and times are subject to change. Most of the stories are about the traditional “English-speaking” team sports — football, hockey, baseball, basketball, American football, rugby, etc. — but it is also about the interesting local spectator and participation sports — tennis, badminton, running, horse racing, swimming, rock climbing, biking, etc. If you have any suggestions for what should be included, please comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.