Author Archives: Joel Earnest

Baby Sharks Shut Down Parents in Walk-off Win

September is coming to a close and so is the baseball season. While the Elitserien finals are being played in Leksand, the place to be was Shark Park, where the Baby Sharks hosted their parents for one last game of 5 innings, defying the hurricane winds of Knud. And what a game it was…

Clearly there was some tension between the teams, and the score was 1-1 after the first inning. The veterans showed patience when the nerves were still playing a big part in the third inning, and the oldies took a 4-1 lead. In the fourth, the lead was reduced to 4-3, and the Baby Sharks had a runner on third when the last out of the inning was made.

Signs of fatigue were clearly noted, both by sight and sound on the parental team, as the Baby Sharks shut out their parents in the fifth, only allowing four batters to go to the plate. With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning, the Baby Sharks tied the game on a wild pitch, and the next batter ended the game with a walk off single, final score being 5-4.

“We saw fantastic plays from both teams today, and it is clear that the Baby Sharks are not the only ones to have improved their baseball skills this 2018 season,”  says Rickard Kronqvist, head coach of the Baby Sharks. “The parents really impressed me. As for the game itself, it was the most exciting game I have experienced since Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.”

Sharks end season with split in Skövde

The Sharks closed out the regular season Sunday in Skövde with a 14-6 win and a 10-9 loss. The games reflected the season on the whole, with a mix of solid baseball and not-so-solid play, but still exciting to the end with Skövde coming out on top in a seesaw, extra-inning battle in game 2.

With both Alby and Tranås declining spots in the playoffs beginning next weekend in distant Umeå, it was enough with a split of the doubleheader to earn a playoff spot. But with the Sharks unable to put together a full team for the journey to Umeå, Gothenburg will also be staying home this year, leaving the field open to Skellefteå, Enskede and Umeå in the first round of the 2018 playoffs.

“It has been tough to field nine players at a couple of games this year,” says coach Jonny Edgren. “And though we see some individual improvements, as a team we did not reach the level of play we did last year.”

Gothenburg will be looking into wrapping up the season with a couple of SWBL games September 15-16, if Malmö and Tranås are interested.

Sharks back in contention

Last Sunday, the Sharks were pretty much assured of a first-round playoff spot, but two days later, this was no longer the case. After the Malmö Pilots were forced to forfeit their last two games of the season due to a temporary shortage of players, a special rule in the Swedish Baseball and Softball Federation’s regulations came into play, stipulating elimination of a team that is unable to play its final two games. The Pilots disappeared from the standings, along with the Sharks’ four wins against them. And without those wins the Sharks suddenly had a losing record. A return to the playoffs seemed unlikely.

But with Alby’s two surprising wins over Tranås today, the Sharks are back in contention. And if they can take two from a young and hungry Skövde squad next weekend, the team can pack their bags for a trip to Umeå and the first round of the 2018 regional playoffs.

This Week in Sharks Baseball

From Jose Munoz being named player of the month for the Swedish regional league to the club’s annual home run derby, a lot has happened this week.

Jose Munoz: player of the month
Jose Munoz is one of the very best players in Swedish baseball. Week after week, the Sharks’ Nicaraguan shortstop is out there providing solid hitting and highlight-reel fielding for the team. Congratulations Jose on winning the player of the month award for May!

 

Jose Munoz, Sharks MVP for 2017

Johan Weidolf: off to a blazing start
This might be Johan Weidolf‘s 29th season, but he’s showing no signs of slowing down, at least when it comes to hitting a round ball with a round bat. Four games into the season and Johan is 16 for 20, with a batting average of .800. Asked what is behind his hot start, Johan mentions two things; he is no longer playing with back pain and he has changed his approach to hitting: “I’m much more relaxed, not trying to do too much with the pitch I am given.”

First baseman Johan Weidolf

Home run derby: swinging for the fences
We have three new home run champs this year with Gillan André, Tina Atkins and Molkhlad “Momo” al-Ghanimi taking top honors in their respective categories. Momo has been eyeing that short and high home run fence (Gothenburg’s version of Boston’s Green Monster) at Shark Park since he first picked up a bat for the Sharks. Wednesday, the former Iraqi national team star pitcher finally hit one out,  winning the men’s baseball category in spectacular fashion.


Tina, Momo and Gillan, this year’s home run derby winners

Robbed in Karlskoga
The Sharks were robbed of a split against a strong Karlskoga team last Sunday, reinforced with imports from the US and borrowed players from Sölvesborg. They were obviously taking no chances after being swept the last time they faced the Sharks.

Young Sharks play with the Heat and against the Heat in the Heat

Billingslaget saw a young Hajarna team take the field for the first time in… well, we’re not sure but, ever before? Due to some late injuries, Hajarna was short in the head count to make a complete team, but went to Skövde to develop, play baseball and have a great time.

Hajarna face off against Sundbyberg Heat

The five young Sharks representing the club as play began Saturday were Leo Sandgren, Carl Adkins, Gabriel Wargswärd, Gillan André and Heloisa Castro on the first day with temperatures of close to 30 degrees Celsius at the time of the first pitch, at 10:30 in the morning. But before that, there was more heat to come, as the team of Sundbyberg Heat showed up, lending players to the Sharks so that Hajarna could play with a complete team on the field throughout the tournament.

Catcher Leo Sandgren, flashing the fast ball sign

Hajarna played really well, being patient at the plate and improving their focus on the field as the tournament progressed. ”We have a young team for a U15 tournament, but I am amazed by the effort and the desire to learn more”, says coach Rickard Kronqvist. ”Playing against more experienced teams, and also having the opportunity to have some very experienced players from Sundbyberg on our team, was an inspiration to us. Both as players and coaches.”

Carl Adkins, ready to take a pick-off throw from pitcher Gillan André

On Sunday, there was a slight breeze, but the temperature was still well in the thirties, and that little breeze very rarely reached the field. Daniel Diaz was added to the Hajarna roster on Sunday, and it was great to play with a complete infield as a team, while Sundbyberg now only had to add outfielders.

  

Heloisa Castro in the outfield

Gabriel Wargswärd and Carl Adkins warming up

Göteborg Hajarna played the Skövde Saints, Sölvesborg Firehawks, Nyköping Knights, and Sundbyberg Heat over the week, and ended up with a record of 1-3.

”We executed well, learned a lot and the baseball world just got a glimpse of some hungry sharks waiting to attack,” were the final words from Kronqvist before walking off into the blazing sunset, humming the theme from ”Jaws”.

Young Sharks on way to Billingslaget

For the first time in recent memory, the Sharks will be sending a full team to Billingslaget, the annual two-day youth tournament sponsored by the Skövde Saints.

Voice of experience–Sharks catcher Toofan Khazal sharing his knowledge in final tuneup before Billingslaget

Always a popular event, Billingslaget is where many of the top players in Swedish baseball played their first games. This year, the young Sharks will be competing with players from the clubs in Skövde, Karlskoga, Sölvesborg, Malmö and Nyköping.

Gillan André, who was one of only two players to make the trip to Skövde last year, is looking forward to returning with a full U15 team. “I’m really excited to be going up to Skövde and representing Gothenburg. It’s going to be an honor to play in the Sharks colors.”

 

 

Sharks in walk-off win over old-timers

Sharks past, present and future battled Saturday in the summer heat, with the youngest generation filling in as needed for the short-handed Sharks and White Sharks. It was a close, well-played game, but in the end, it was the Sharks of today that came out on top, 10-8, with a big assist from an outfield provided by the White Sharks.

Andy Vanecek and 5-year-old son Vilgot manning short for the White Sharks

Strike-throwing machine Martin Pennycook returns to the mound for the White Sharks

New acquisitions

The Sharks made two major acquisitions this past week. Most important was the signing of former Shark Alexander Larsson after a six-year absence. “It’s great to be back,” said Larsson with a smile as wide as today’s strike zone.

And speaking of smiles, the other acquisition is sure to make the grounds-keeping crew happy–the Sharks have bought a tractor! And no one could be prouder than head groundskeeper Tractor Jonny Edgren, show below dragging the infield.

Tractor Jonny, getting it done

Sharks shaking off the rust in Malmö

Hearing that the Sharks were just a hit away from winning last year’s Swedish regional championship, the player from the Copenhagen seemed a bit surprised. And that’s easy to understand. Because for nearly every nice play made by the Sharks, there was a bad one to match. Even so, there was plenty to smile about in Sunday’s spring training opener against the Malmö Pilots and the Copenhagen Urban Achievers.

Caleb Chu, 16, standout veteran of the Taiwanese leagues, breaks for second in a successful steal against the Pilots.

The stars were aligned and the gods of baseball were smiling down on Limnhamnsfältet Sunday. With the mercury at seventeen degrees , blue skies and free burgers courtesy of the home team, it would take more than an occasional error, watching a called third strike go by or wildness on the mound to dampen spirits.

Acting Coach Rick Kronqvist, when asked about losing both games of the doubleheader, had this to say: “Although winning is always better than losing, there were no losers here today. This was baseball at it’s finest, in its purest form.”

Malmö burgers — best in the league

Did you know…
This was the first time Erik Earnest and Joel Earnest had played together since combining with the legendary Jason Norderum in throwing a no-hitter against Sundbyberg back in 2015.

Sweden’s stringent border checks, established to protect its citizens from the forces of evil had an unexpected effect Sunday, with several of Copenhagen’s top players being turned away while trying to cross the bridge between Denmark and Sweden due to insufficient travel documents.

Sharks on the loose!

An enthusiastic group of young Sharks are finally back on the grass after a solid off-season of weekly Sunday-evening practices in preparation for a new season, a season that promises to be the best in years.

“The level of excitement and expectation is very high, and we have an amazing group of young individuals, both boys and girls, who are to form the young Shark team this year,” says Coach Rikard Kronqvist. “We hope to develop as a club and everyone is welcome to come down to Shark Park and give it a try. A warning, though: Baseball is highly addictive.

“It was great to hear when our when youngest player Charlie Norström stepped up to the plate, that he was aiming for Tampa Bay. Whether it meant that the ball was to land there or that is where he plans to sign his first Major League contract is yet to be seen, but I’m happy with either one – or both.

“A smile of satisfaction came over the face of Gabriel Wargswärd when he was congratulated by the coaches for giving his brand new white baseball pants a nice coat of red baseball dirt sliding in on a close play.”

Youth practices this season will be held Mondays and Wednesdays, 18:00-19:30, weather permitting. Sharks like water, so a little rain won’t keep us Sharks off the field.

Sunday May 6 is Opening Game Day for the young Sharks. Teams will be formed and a couple couple of games will be played. Other teams have also been invited, so depending on their schedules, they might show up to play too.

On June 2-3, the Sharks will participate in the U15 Billingslaget in Skövde, always a popular tournament for Sweden’s younger players.

Play ball! Shark Park is back in business

Shark Park is nearly ready for another season of exciting baseball thanks to the fine efforts of the Sharks’ unofficial grounds crew. Players, parents and friends all joined in getting the field back in playing condition.

 

 

Even if it would have been nice with more people, those who showed up on this fine Saturday morning were ready to work, finishing the job in record time. By two-thirty, all that was left was to pack up the tools, shake off the dust and pat each other on the back for a job well done.

There is still work to be done outside the foul lines and we’ll be meeting at the field again next Saturday at ten to finish things up.

BREAKING NEWS: The Players’ Union has announced that all players in attendance at Shark Park on April 14 to work on the field would be exempt from fence duty for the entire 2018 season. The union would also look favorably upon the six senior players in attendance being in the starting lineup for the Sharks’ spring training opener on April 29 in Malmö.