It’s road trip time again, this week with a June 10th visit to Malmö’s beautiful Limhamnsfältet for a doubleheader against the Pilots. Even though the Sharks are currently riding an eight-game winning streak against the Pilots and fresh off a miracle sweep of the Karlskoga Bats, this weekend’s games could go either way.
Looking back over the past six years, the Pilots have the edge, going 20–9 against the Sharks. Although the Pilots had the early advantage, at one point winning 19 straight, the balance of power began to shift when Coleman Lucas and Jason Norderum took the reins in 2015, and led the Sharks to an 11-1 victory, vividly illustrating the concept of winning being better than losing.
For fans wanting to see the team on the road, this reporter can strongly recommend making the trip to Malmö. It’s an easy drive, the burgers are tasty, the people are friendly, sunny skies are forecast and a great sand beach is just a minute away, something the Sharks always take advantage of after playing in Malmö.
For directions, click here: Limhamnsfältet
There’s plenty of free parking between the field and the beach.
Miracles do happen.
Sharks can walk on water.
“This is baseball,” coach Edgren says.
No one would have believed this when the Karlskoga Bats (5-3) came to town. This reporter is not a fan of quoting himself, but the 2017 preview of the opposition says:
It will be exciting to see imports in the regional league and especially so with an ambidextrous pitcher. While it’s safe to assume that the Sharks, nor any other regional team, most likely will not stand a chance against the Bats, it will be fun to host them at Shark Park.
And fun it was.
José Martinez (2-0) started game one for the Göteborg Hajarna (4-2) and was lights out to start the game and held the Karlskoga Bats scoreless through three innings behind a surprisingly stellar defense. As the Sharks roster for the game were 17 strong, few of them had showed up for practice.
“Just imagine how good we would be if all of these guys had the chance to work on their stuff,” coach Jonny Edgren says.
The Sharks lineup got behind their starter as they scored 3 runs in the first and added two more in the second off of Bats starter Forrest Weaver (3-1). The ambidextrous Weaver only pitched 1.2 innings as he and Sharks shortstop Mokhlad al-Ghanimi collided at a play at the plate and Weaver had to come off the mound. al-Ghanimi, unfortunately, had to come out of the game altogether.
The Sharks offensive forces were pretty much done for the day and the Bats threatened in the 4th with the bases loaded on a couple of occasions but Martinez held them to 3 runs. Behind that solid defense, the Sharks held on to the first one despite being shut out by Bats reliever Rafael Torres and Simon Högberg.
Back on the field and on the mound for the second game was Mokhlad al-Ghanimi who battled through his foot injury but was not at his sharpest. This might also have been a consequence from the rain that just would not give in. While al-Ghanimi only gave up one hit on the day, he walked a whooping 9 batters and hit at least a couple more.
And the rain kept pouring.
“This ain’t no weather for a black man,” center fielder José Martinez said.
The Bats took advantage of that and got the 1-0-lead in the 2nd and adding 4 more runs in the 4th. The Sharks, on offense, looked abysmal to say the least as they could not figure out Bats starter Simon Högberg at all. Fortunately for the Sharks, starter Shervin Shakki came in to relieve al-Ghanimi and pitched great as he held the Bats hitless for three frames.
Going in to the 7th the Sharks faithful had left the stands and down 5-0, this one looked nothing but over. But when Eric Marquez reminded the team that winning is better than losing, it wasn’t.
Daniel Linnås started the inning off by drawing a walk from reliever Anton Calson (0-2) and from there on, it was a fairy tale for the Sharks. When veteran Johan Weidolf came to the plate with the bases loaded, he represented the winning run. Weidolf hit a double down the right field line and set the stage for Martinez to be the hero once more. Martinez rose to the occasion and hit a ground rule double for the walk off victory.
“We had great discipline today, that was the key for us,” coach Edgren said.
Shakki is batting .416 on the season.
Niclas Ekström, in his comeback, was not hit by a pitch.
Hajarna totalled only five errors on the day.
Joel Earnest was overheard talking about on base percentage.
Sharks don’t like public transportation.
Fortunately, Hannes Wiström and Shervin Shakki found their way.
“It was fun,” Wiström says.
The Swedish junior national team is playing a Euro qualifier against Croatia in July. Since there is open spots on the roster, a tryout was held in Skarpnäck, Stockholm, on Monday and Tuesday. Hannes Wiström and Shervin Shakki represented the Sharks.
“It was a good learning experience, a lot of coaches with a lot of experience. They knew what they were talking about,” Wiström says.
To get there, was more of an adventure. Sharks, as you might know, does not adapt well to life above ground and public transportation is a bit of an issue. When the Sharks found themselves in the big city, it was close they wound up far from the field.
At the field, they were working with a lot of fundamentals, physical tests and such. Rumor has it that Shervin Shakki showed off the blinding speed that he soon will be know for.
“It’s been a lot of fun to play with guys our own age,” Wiström says and apparently, Shakki agreed to a lot of the statements.
Although no Sharks Jersey, the baby Sharks performed sharklike.
Gillan André and Alessandro Cassani played well when representing Skövde.
The Hajarna faithful are familiar with the (very) young guns Gillan André and Allesandro Cassani to represent The senior Sharks in the future. But as the Baby Sharks are still not a full squad, they took matters into their own hands and represented Skövde in the youth tournament Billingeslaget.
Cassani played solid defense for the U15 side, both at shortstop and in center field. On the other side of the ball, he recorded a stolen base and got a walk.
For André, the team in question was the Skövde U12 and he was all over. André provided slick defense at first and second base while getting a couple of hits. He also featured on the mound in the second game as he struck out one in a 1-2-3 inning of relief.
The Sharks are in the midst of a roller coaster-season.
They certainly enjoyed the ride on Sunday.
“We had great discipline today,” coach Edgren says.
When the powerhouse Karlskoga Bats (5-3) visits Shark Park, the games are usually a dull story for the Göteborg Hajarna (4-2). On Sunday, the plot was different.
Behind game one starter José Martinez (2-0) Hajarna put up a crooked number in the first, scoring three runs off of Bats starter Forrest Weaver (3-1). In the second inning, they put two more runs on the board. The defense has been inconsistent during the season but it was looking as solid as ever on this day.
Martinez was rolling through three innings before running in to trouble in the fourth as he gave up three runs. He never lost his stride, however, and threw a complete game for his second win of the season. On the day, he allowed six hits and two walks while striking out ten.
Game two was wet. Really wet. The rain decided to make life difficult for the players and the field as everyone had to battle wet balls and a wet field. The Bats drew first blood as the put up a run in the second and added four runs in the fourth.
The Sharks never got their offensive production going and it was looking more and more like a one sided affair before starter Mokhlad al-Ghanimi. However, a rain delay occurred after the fifth inning and Eric Marquez reminded his teammates that winning is better than losing.
With the game on the line, the Sharks showed patience at the plate in the bottom of the seventh and loaded the bases with one out. After scoring three runs, oldtimer Johan Weidolf came to the plate as the winning run and hit a line drive down the right field line to tie the game.
Martinez then took matters in to his own hands as he drove in Weidolf with a ground rule double for the walkoff win with the final score of 6-5.
“We had great discipline on both sides of the ball. And this is baseball, anything can happen,” coach Jonny Edgren says.
Longer version to follow.
Around the Sharks organization, he’s known for his strikeouts and blinding speed.
But there is more to Mokhlad al-Ghanimi than meets the eye.
“I just want to be safe,” he says in an article at Ale-Kuriren.
In a story featured in Ale-Kuriren, al-Ghanimi tells the story on how he had to leave his native Iraq and his struggle to stay in Sweden. He talks about his athletic upbringing, his father who got him into swimming and his future.
I Göteborg Hajarnas förening är han mest känd för sina strikeouts och blixtrande snabbhet.
Men Mokhlad al-Ghanimi är mer än så.
“Jag vill bara leva ett säkert liv”, säger han till Ale-Kuriren.
I en artikel i Ale-Kuriren berättar al-Ghanimi historien om hur han var tvungen att lämna sitt hemland Irak och om hans kamp för att få stanna i Sverige. Han pratar om hans idrottande familj, och ödet som förde honom till Göteborg och Hajarna.
Lastly, the Hajarna.se editorial staff (there’s actually three of us) are proud to have al-Ghanimi in the organization and are happy that you feel safe here.
Come and see ‘Momo’ in action on Sunday as Hajarna take on the Karlskoga Bats, first pitch is at 12.00 at Shark Park.
The Sharks narrowly defeated the Kungsbacka Chiefs in game one of Saturday’s three-team tripleheader, but perhaps even more satisfying was staying within range of the Vithajarna for most of game two.
The veteran Vithajarna squad was stacked; a bona fide all-star team with many of the Gothenburg club’s top players from years past. Warming up for the final game of the day against the Vithajarna, the prospects were not good for the Sharks. They would be facing former national team pitcher Curtis Donne, and were down to just eight players with several key team members unavailable due either to injuries or prior commitments.
Shervin Shakki held the Vithajarna to one unearned run in the first inning, even though there were just two of the team’s less experienced players covering Shark Park’s vast outfield. But help was on the way. When the Sharks took the field in the bottom of the second, standing in center was Zaki and Yudai Yamazaki’s father Chikara, making his first appearance in organized baseball after a layoff of fifteen years. The elder Yamazaki wasted little time in demonstrating his skills, promptly throwing out a runner trying to advance to third.
Shervin Shakki, Yudai Yamazaki and Rickard “Comeback Kid” Kronqvist were solid on the mound, and most runs scored by the Vithajarna were unearned. Despite the sometimes-shaky defense, the Sharks played well for the most part and were still in the game until the late innings before going down 10–3.
Saturday’s matchups drew Shark Park’s largest crowd in years, close to matching typical Elite opening day attendance figures. Enthusiasm was high among all three squads and all are hoping for a rematch later in the season. The Sharks are already scheduled to face the Vithajarna again on August 12.
SPECIAL REPORT FROM THE VITHAJARNA DUGOUT BY JOHAN WEIDOLF
It was so much fun to have the old crew back together. We may have all gotten a lot older but the passion and will to make plays and make outs was still there. Denis, hadn’t played in 17 years got behind the plate and caught in both games and blocked to left and right and handled the pitchers in a tremendous way. Hitting wise it was amazing to see how quickly these old players adapted and got back into the groove with good at bats and driving the ball to all fields. Robin Bandgren was even hitting and driving the ball to all fields better than he did during his active period so perhaps Hajarna can hope for a comeback? At times the hits from the old guys were longer than the old players could sprint, trying to go for doubles and triples making people breath really hard to catch our breath but having fun all the way. Martin and Robin did a good job pitching in the first game, in the second Curtis still looked amazing, good velocity and control mowing player down, pitching 4 innings of 1-hit ball and when Hajarna managed to put the ball in play there was a solid defense behind him making it look easy and making outs.
Sami took over and started impressive, throwing hard but lost control for a while and allowed the opposing team to reach on a few walks and then score on wild pitches before he managed to regain control and close out the game.
It was a really strong impressive crew, could definitely see the shape of the team was not what it used to be for many of the players but still it was very impressive to see all the players and we all had so much fun. We will now go back and try to heal and rehab our bodies to be back for the second occasion in August.
Kungsbacka 3 0 0 4 3 – 10
vithajarna 1 0 3 0 2 4 – 10
First loss of the season does not sound so bad.
But it was kind of bad.
“We played better than last week,” coach Edgren said.
Shervin Shakki (0-1) started game one at Afzelius park in Tranås and, from the get-go, showed that he wants to reign as the ace of the Gothenburg Sharks (2-2) rotation this season. Striking out the side in the first inning while pitching his first game to new battery mate Zaki Yamazaki was an impressive start.
But he was just getting started.
Shakki pitched great all game long and gave up no earned runs over six innings, even though the box score says so. Per usual, the hometown scorer was fonder of awarding home players with hits and therefore excluding a lot of errors on the Sharks defensive side. He did give up a couple of hits (unclear how many as the hits correlate with the errors that do not appear in the box score) walking only one and striking out seven. ‘Swirvin’ Shakki was, however, tagged with the loss as the Sharks offense failed immensely.
Going up against veteran pitcher Nils Bergehed (1-1), the Sharks could not get anything going. While Bergehed pitched great, went the full seven while allowing one run on three hits and four walks, the Sharks did not string anything together. All day long, patience was lacking at the plate and despite having a hectic preseason, they were not locked in at the plate.
To their credit, Tranås played great defense all day long and was booked for no errors (wait, what?) in that first game that ended 4-1 in the favor of Tranås.
The veteran trio of Rickard Kronqvist, Toofan Khazal and Jonny Edgren was the only Sharks credited with hits in the box score but due credit should go to regional debutant Zaki Yamazaki. Catching that first game, giving veteran Khazal some much needed rest, she was very impressive. While keeping Shakki calm and framing pitches all day long, she also threw out runners, successfully tagged runners out at the plate and drew two walks while going 0-1.
Mokhlad al-Ghanimi (1-1) started game two and looked pretty good, although maybe not as sharp as the Hajarna faithful has gotten used to. Walking three, striking out seven and giving up two hits looks pretty nice, but add three runs to that (on three wild pitches) and al-Ghanimi himself is not happy.
The Sharks offense was even more toothless in this one as they only amassed two hits (Shakki, Eric Marquez) and two walks against Tranås starter Felix Millan Casanova (1-0). But wait, now you’re wondering how the frick the Sharks lost 10-0 when starter al-Ghanimi only gave up three runs. Yeah, well about that…
Coach Edgren got some questionable advice to send a hobby reporter to the mound after al-Ghanimi had gone four innings. While the reporter got out of the first inning unscathed, the next one was not so pretty.
He walked a about a million batters and gave up close to that many hits, but may have been the only Sharks player drawing cheers from the home crowd as he made sure the mercy in mercy rule was invoked.
“Who are you to ask that frickin’ question?” the reporter muttered when he tried to interview himself after the game.
On the whole, it was two close, well played games (apart from the inning thrown by yours truly) that quite possibly was fun to watch.
“Even though we lost today, it was a step forward. We look forward to hosting Karlskoga in two weeks,” coach Jonny Edgren said.
The Sharks DL is getting crowded. Niclas Ekström and José Munoz was already there. Add to that that ace pitcher Mokhlad al-Ghanimi and Daniel André and those playoff hopes are starting to look grim.
‘Swirvin’ Shervin Shakki is having a breakout season at the plate with a slash line of .500/.500/.625/.1125.
Sharks had brilliant sushi between games, courtesy of the Yamazaki family.
Tranås flashed their power as still being a force in the regional series on Sunday.
The Sharks showed they still have some ways to go.
Even though the Sharks (2-2) got swept on Sunday, they played better than the weekend before when they took two from the Malmö Pilots. This time, the Sharks got outplayed by the opposition and somewhat by themselves.
The first game was awfully close as the teams traded zeroes and it was eventually decided by the Tranås (2-2) side cashing in on the Sharks defensive miscues. That is not to take anything away from ‘Swirvin’ Shervin Shakki who pitched one of his best games in his career, going six innings while allowing no earned runs (no matter what the official scorer might say). Also, the birth of a succesful (and quite possibly the shortest) battery might have been seen as Zaki Yamazaki was excellent behind the plate in her regional series debut. In Zaki, the team might have found relief to veteran catcher Toofan Khazal who is needed on other places on the diamond and, well, no one should catch 14 innings on a day.
Speaking of Khazal, he teamed up with ace pitcher Mokhlad al-Ghanimi for the second one and apart from a short stint in the second inning, it looked like the rust was gone. Unfortunately, the Sharks had forgot the bats at home for both games as they never got going at the plate and showed impatience.
Game two was decided when Coach Edgren decided to throw in this reporter on the mound for his regional series debut. While the first inning went well, the second one quickly got out of hand and resulted in a mercy rule ending.
“Even though we lost today, it was a step forward. We look forward to hosting Karlskoga in two weeks,” Jonny Edgren said.
On the whole, it was two close, well played games (apart from the inning thrown by yours truly) that quite possibly was fun to watch. Final scores were 1-4 and 0-10.
A longer recap will follow when box scores are available.