Category Archives: Gothenburg Sharks

Quick recap: .500 baseball

The Sharks fought heat, Bats and other things. In the end, they came up empty.

Playing at Karlskoga is not an easy task. With scorching heat and a skeleton crew it’s even harder.

Behind the battling starter, ”El Gallo Negro” José Martínez, the Sharks were on the verge of taking the first game. In a back and forth game, Gothenburg was up two runs in the bottom of the 7th but the Bats walked off with a score of 10-9.

The heat got to the Sharks as they looked like Sharks would on land. Still, a stellar start from Erik Earnest in game 2 had them believing before this one got away from them.

Final score of the second game was 10-4 in favor of Karlskoga.

What’s up, Jack Warwick?

In what hopefully will be a series of old friend-articles, we continue with pitcher and infielder Jack ‘Birdman’ Warwick. The Australian was a Shark during the 2015 season and memorably homered in his first game in Karlskoga.

What are you up to these days?

“Not much, coaching a lot of baseball and training for a strongman competition. I miss the baseball in Sweden a lot, especially the comradeship among all the players!”

Do you follow the Sharks adventures at all?

“I still follow the Sharks and try to stay up to date on what’s happening in Swedish baseball. I See how much you guys do with the youth team and am always inspired to go out and coach afterwards.”

Warwick (left) back in the Gothenburg days with Erik Earnest.

Are you still actively playing baseball?

I still play baseball, playing outfield for a state team. I also play for another team very similar to the Sharks.

What’s your best memory of your time in Gothenburg?

“I miss the baseball van trips, especially when I didn’t have to drive. But mainly I miss helping the guys out and having an enjoyable time at the games. Four games per weekend was awesom! Also, helping young kids like Joakim [Melin] get his work in to compete with the best in Sweden at the All-star game.”

What are your thoughts on the upcoming games at Karlskoga?

“Look, Karlskoga will always be a challenge. I remember they were a force when we played them [back in 2015]. My first game actually, under the weather and I manage to hit a home run over the fence. That gave me the confidence to compete that season.”

I’d also like to thank the Sharks again for having me that season. I’ll always remember the hospitality they showed me, the support they gave me in fixing my arm, and the patience they showed for my anger when we’d lose. Because as you know, winning is better than losing.”

Sharks ride with a skeleton crew to Karlskoga for a very hard fought double header on Sunday. First pitch is at 12.

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.”

 

 

2018 Preview: Part 4 – The Opposition

Welcome to the last part of the 2018 regional preview from what is quite possibly the most ambitious site in Swedish baseball. The series will consist of four parts; pitchers, outfielders, infielders and the opposition. 

I am very sad this part came out after the season started and that I have a start to the season to cheat with. Unfortunately, this is not my full time job and the Sharks are not paying me (wink). So I got stuck with real work and this suffered.

Disclaimer: This series of previews is the opinion of one person and does not necessarily reflect the organization’s views or anyone else’s for that matter.
Also, the scouting departement is manned solely by me, which makes this a tough task.

Malmö Pilots

Sadly, the Sharks only get to face their brothers in Malmö four times this season (down from six). Luckily, they will head down to Malmö on May 20th which is a perfect time for the traditional post game swim in the ocean (and this time, rumor has it the Pilots will join in).

Last year’s record: 0-16.

Like I wrote in this preview last season, the Pilots were probably not at all satisfied with the results last season. Then on the other hand, they were as happy and friendly as usual. They struggled with their pitching last season but has, during the offseason, adressed those issues. Coach Eric Browne piloted the team to a preseason win against the Sharks a couple of weeks ago and was quite optimistic going forward:

“We have a great bunch of guys and we worked hard this winter. I’m hoping that we have a winning season this time around, especially since we like winning better than losing” Browne says.

Acquisitions:

While the club’s official outlets don’t really tell anything about players coming or going, the scouting department as always got you covered. Word is, pitcher Omar Peguero has been signed during the offseason and will provide a much needed energy injection to a pitching staff that on occasion scrambled to find enough arms for the innings needed. Peguero is said to have a four pitch arsenal with good command and consistency. A solid pickup for the Pilots.

One can play games with the Pilots too.

Prediction:  

This is a tough one, but surely they will put up more of a fight against the Sharks than last season. With the Peguero pickup, they are a more solid team and there is enough talent to go around on the team. Even though the Sharks went 6-0 against them last season, games against the Pilots are never easy pickings. It should also be mentioned that the junior team, the Malmö Piranhas, is growing and soon to be making the Pilot team a harder nut to crack. The Pilots have started the season in the same manner as last year, not very pleasant. There are talent there but also desperate need for pitching.

Skövde Saints

Formed in 1988, the newcomers of the Regional league field a young and dynamic team that sometimes lack experience. Their youthful exuberance will most likely be a force to be reckoned with and, when this article is written, they have already played four games. While they took their opening games against Enköping, they also lost two at Karlskoga and Tranås but showed ample ability.

Last year’s record: Did not play.

The Saints did not compete in the Regional series but did face the Sharks on a bunch of occasions in the Southwest Baseball League. They did so with showing off that their squad has truly schooled baseball players combined with a bunch of guys that are high with talent from growing up playing cricket. Surely, this is an intriguing mix of guys that have a high ceiling while also much likely will have som growing pains.

Acquisitions:

Per usual, in this league, news on players coming or going ar scarce but since our scouting department is so vast… we don’t know shit. Anyway, it is likely that the Saints acquired one or two players since they have a good network within their region.

At Saints Park, everyone enjoy wants to win rather than lose.

Prediction:  

Pitcher Adam Eklund showed last season in the SWBL that he can compete at the Regional league level. Also, the 19-year old Ali Ghulami is hitting .705 in the first 20 at bats of the season, despite the losses to the team. That if something is promise of more to come from the young squad. By all accounts, it will be a learning season for the Saints but make no mistake, they’re here to play and looking down the road – they will most likely succeed.

Karlskoga Bats

The Bats once again enter Regional League play as the favorite to take it all and advancing to the Elite series. While they don’t have to battle Sölvesborg six times this season, the improvements within the Tranås Squad might just prove tough to overcome.

Last year’s record: 7-7.

Last season did not go as planned for the Bats that was poised to take the step up to the Elite division. While losing two games to the Sharks was hard, the toughest part of the season was that they had to face Sölvesborg six times. They somehow missed the playoffs despite having quite possibly the most talanted squad in the league and did not advance.

Acquisitions:

They look as strong this season as they did last year. The core group of Emil Lundh, Anton Calson, Rodney Ndugwa et al are still there and will provide strength and experience while still being talented and developing. Although the losses to the Sharks last season made the website go silent, the scouting departement does notice that the farm deal with Sölvesborg is still intact. So far Kent Karlsson, the former Swedish national team pitcher, has made a couple of appearances for the Bats and it remains to be seen how many more will join him.

They have also added Canadian Samuel Siddall to the team that has played in the Australian second division and led the Hungarian national team, which is merits that few players in the league can match.

This might be the Sam Siddall the Sharks will be facing this season.

Prediction:  

Well, it’s kind of easy to predict. The Bats will be up there in the playoff hunt. Most likely they will perform up to their standards this season and qualify for the semifinals straight away. If they are serious about their quest for a place in the Elite division, it will probably be where they end up but like last season, a lot can happen. Most likely they will be winning the division. Easily.

Tranås Tropical Thunderstorm

Tranås will hopefully embrace the new name I’ve just given them and order new jerseys. While thunderstorms might not have anything to do with Tranås, it just feels right. Sadly, this season they have adopted or taken back the name Royal Cranes. Which is a bird. Which is not at all as brilliant as Tropical Thunderstorm.

It could be awesome.

 

Last year’s record: 8-6.

The Tropical Thunderstorm (see, it works!) went 8-6 last season and was probably content with it. Not happy, not jubilant but possibly content. They also had to face the Firehawks of Sölvesborg on numerous occasions and that was ridiculous sometimes. This season, they will battle it out with the Sharks and the Bats for the number one spot in the division.

Acquisitions:

Since they Royal Cranes (not as good) are very secretive about their club (the website still believes it’s 2016) it’s hard to see any official updates about players. The twins Tymoteusz Tomkiewicz and Szon Tomkiewicz has made appearances for them and will, by the looks of it, be an upgrade to the team. Other than that, they will, as always, be lead by the very solid pitching duo of Nils Bergehed and Felix Casanova.

Prediction:  

While Tranås are somewhat uneven from weekend to weekend (which amateur team isn’t?), they are as solid as they come on this level. It’s never going to be an easy game against them – for any team and the scouting departement seem to think they will be even harder to face this season. The Sharks have already played them once (a split) and will face them again in early June.

Male softball sharks eyeing Euros

Late last year, Sweden started a male, fastpitch Softball team.
Three Sharks went for tryouts, all three came back with spots on the team.
“I’m of course proud to put on the National team jersey and run out on the field,” Daniel André says.

During the end of 2017, the Swedish Baseball and Softball federation scoured the land for someone to take on the challenge of becoming the National team manager men’s softball. Not an easy task, one might think.

It landed on Israel ‘Izzy’ Nukunuku out of New Zealand. ‘Izzy’ (not to be confused with the Shark’s Izzy), has been working with the Danish and Dutch teams for over ten years before coming over from the dark side to join the Jedi forces of the European baseball scene.

“The skill sets [on the players] were rusty but the heart and drive to do well was there. Don’t get me wrong – there is a lot to work on but when you have that drive it’s easier to channel in the right direction,” ‘Izzy’ says to dugout.se about his new players.

The Sharks that went to that open tryout was André, Toofan Khazal and Jonny Edgren. All three earned a place on the team and has, during the season, combined the grueling baseball season with softball on the side.

“It’s inspiring to play alongside a group of very motivated guys from organizations from all over the country,” Khazal says.

André mainly play the outfield in Softball, Edgren tries to pitch as well as hit and Khazal, of course, catches.

But softball is not baseball and while none of the Sharks representing Sweden are young guns anymore, they seem to have adapted well to the higher pace of the softball game.

As the European Championships is fast approaching, June 25-30th, the National team has working out against the danes in April and a tournament with Alby and Venezuela in Stockholm. During the Euros in Havlíčkův Brod, Czech Republic, ‘Izzy’ is humble but still looking to win.

It was unclear which team enjoyed winning better than losing.

“The goal is to be competitive in every game, some have goals on winning their  first games – but if we stay competitive we can win this and more,” ‘Izzy’ says to dugout.se.

The next chance to see your favorite Sharks in a national team jersey is in Skövde during the Baltic Open in Skövde on June 16-17.

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

Battery and team earns win in The Return of the Earnest

34, 30, 12, 2.
Runs, hits, walks were in abundance – errors was not.
“We played tight baseball today,” Coach Edgren says.

As the Sharks made their only trip in 2018 to the lovely Limhamnsfältet on Sunday, the first game was full of offensive performance. However, the performance that stood out the most was the one from the battery.

“They know each other inside and out, today, they were brilliant,” Jonny Edgren said of his battery.

With José Martinez on the mound and Toofan Khazal catching him, the Sharks have a dynamic duo that is going to make it hard on the opposing hitters. Sunday was no exception.

Staff leader Martinez carried a shutout in to the sixth inning as the Göteborg Hajarna (3-1) took a comfortable victory over the Malmö Pilots (0-4). After a leadoff hit, Martinez only gave up one or two hits before surrendering his first run in the sixth. Khazal behind the plate, called a great game and generally played exceptional behind the plate in the dusty fields of Malmö.

“He has really taken a step forward the last couple of years. Catching better, throwing better. All better,” Edgren praises his catcher.

Martinez (1-1) earned the win surrendering the two runs on four hits with two walks and seven punchouts.

Martinez pitched well.

Offensively, the Sharks displayed a true team effort. Only one Shark failed to cross home plate as they amassed eleven hits and twelve walks. Even though eight of those runs came in the seventh inning, the win was never really threatened.

Game two started off even better – for the Sharks. They feasted off Pilots starter Viktor Eriksson (0-2) and put up eleven (!) runs in the top of the first. With Shervin ‘The Shervinator’ Shakki and Mokhlad al-Ghanimi on the disabled list, Edgren turned to his bullpen to cover the whole game.

Joel ‘Big Daddy’ Earnest was slated to start the game but was so eager on earning a spot in that disabled list that he tweaked his ankle during infield outfield. In his stead, Chu Li-Heng started game two and performed admirably, giving up only two runs (none earned) in his two innings.

With the comfortable lead, Edgren wanted to make things interesting for the Malmö crowd and put this reporter on the mound. That did not go well as he gave up seven runs (five earned) while walking a whooping five batters in his two innings of work.

Thankfully, this game also saw The Return of the Earnest (Jr) as Erik Earnest made his official comeback. While he flashed some brilliance in game one, the rust was clearly there. In game two, however, it was a different story. If pitching two runs of shutout relief was not good enough, hit three doubles, drove in four runs and earned a walk. And yeah, those doubles could have been triples had Göteborgsvarvet not been the day before.

Earnest swung the bat well.

“Winning is better than losing, you can quote me on that,” Earnest said after the second win of the day.

Besides Earnest Jr, it was once again a team effort on offense. Official scorer had a lot of work as the Sharks put up no less than 19 hits and 4 walks in the second one. Other than Earnest and leadoff man Muñoz (who went 4-5), there was a Weidolf sighting on Sunday.

Muñoz, to no avail, tried to impersonate a serpent.

Johan ‘Wheels’ Weidolf then 4-5 himself (6-7 on the day) and had five ribbies in the second game. The veteran first baseman is now hitting .857, which is good.

“We kept having good at bats. Quality at bats, still being aggressive and with good patience,” Edgren says.

With the win streak now at three games, the Sharks will travel to play the undefeated Karlskoga Bats in two weeks. While Sunday was a good display of both defense and offense, it will be a lot tougher in Värmland.

“It’s always a tough one, while today was good we have to play even better when we face the Bats,” Edgren says.

Notables:

Daniel Linnås had his second official career hit.

Klas Brinkfledt played defense at second base like he was born to do it.

Khazal also played great defense at second and was wearing a cap.

Lars Karlsson was solid behind the plate in his official catching debut, despite having to catch this reporter.

When this reporter, Edgren, Weidolf and Earnest the elder at one point made out the Sharks bench, it might have been the oldest bench in baseball history.

Almost all Sharks swam after the game.

Natural habitat.

Quick recap: Sharks play well, win two games

In a complete team effort, the Sharks won two games against the Malmö Pilots taking their win streak to three games before the much anticipated trip to Karlskoga.

In the first game, the battery of José Martinez and Toofan Khazal dominated the Malmö Pilots for a long time. After giving up a hit to the first batter of the game, Martinez gave nothing away as he held the Pirates scoreless through five and only giving up two or three hits.

The solid game calling and catching from veteran Khazal should not be overlooked as he was as stellar as ever as the backstop. Indeed, he would not be hard to include in an all-league kind of team.

The offense was hungry on this Sunday and never gave the Pilots a chance to breathe. The first game’s final score was 17-2.

In the second one the Sharks came back famished and put up eleven (!) runs in the first inning and never looked back. Behind pretty much the whole staff in what was a bullpen game, they took won game two 17-10.

A full recap will be posted when stats are provided digitally or when I come around to the decipher the score sheets.

Also, the Sharks swam:

 

Time for Earnest(s) to start a winning streak?

The Pilots have always been a favorit foe of the Sharks.
On Sunday, they’re looking for wins.
“It won’t be easy,” Coach Edgren says.

Sunday will be the comeback of Erik Earnest in a Sharks jersey. Once again, he will suit up together with his dad, Joel Earnest, in the Sharks lineup. Last time they did so was in the jubilant, Jason Norderum no hitter in 2015:

In relief [of Norderum] came the slightly older Joel Earnest for his first Elitserien appearance on the mound. He promptly gave up three walks to load the bases and left it for his son to figure it out.
And figure it out he did, but maybe not in the way you would expect it.
After striking out the first batter, the second Heat batter lined out to big daddy Joel Earnest in left field who fired a throw to third for the classic 7-5 double play.
“Hey, I gotta help the kid out,” Joel Earnest said.

The addition of Earnest Jr comes as somewhat of a surprise for the Sharks faithful as he has not been seen that much on the Shark Park practice diamond. Be that as it may, few Swedish teams would turn him down.

J-Rod and Earnest Jr back in the day.

“Obviously, he was and still is a great player. To any team, he would be a quality addition,” Coach Jonny Edgren says.

The Sharks ride in to the friendly confines of Limhamnsfältet fresh from a split in Tranås where they won game two in nice fashion. Not with the Sharks from that matchup is Shervin ‘The Shervinator’ Shakki who was place on the 10-day DL with an upper body injury. Furthermore, the Miklo Velka of the Sharks ‘Vatos Locos’ – Eric Marquez – will not be travelling south with the team.

Eric Marquez?

Marquez did not respond to this reporter’s frequent phone calls, but sent an e-mail quote from the fantabulous movie:

“I may be white from the outside, but I’m brown on the inside, TO THE BONE,” Marquez writes.

Which is… weird. But then again, the Paco and Cruz of that trio, José Martinez and José Muñoz, will travel with the team.

This journey will also see the return of Johan Weidolf to the Sharks team. Neither he is a bad addition to the lineup. Quite possibly, he will be an even bigger influence just with his experience and clubhouse presence to the team.

“I know that winning is better than losing, that is what I preach,” Weidolf says.

The Pilots started their season by losing two games to the Karlskoga Bats. That in itself is not something to be ashamed about, since the Bats are one of the premier teams in the league but the Pilots were probably not too happy about the 7-33 run difference on the day.

Göteborg Hajarna had a 6-0 record against the Pilots last season but with additions of Omar Peguero among others, the Pilots will quite possibly not be easy pickings. Furthermore, the excellent Pilots catcher Sean T Kim is apparently still healthy and will be behind the plate to command the Pilots pitching staff. (The fact that Kim is a Giants fan has no effect on his playing ability).

So hey, if you’re feeling for a day of basking in the sun and watching quality(?) baseball – come to Limhamnsfältet on Sunday. First pitch at 12 and they serve the league’s best hamburgers, according to some. They are presumably the only team south of Stockholm that serves hamburgers at their games but that’s not the point.

Burgers is a thing.

Sunday is a great day for baseball, come join us!

Split starts Sharks season

Hard fought games at Tranås are nothing new.
Sunday was no exception.
“We need to work more on our defense,” coach Jonny Edgren says.

The Gothenburg Sharks (1-1) were eager as vampires in moonlight to get their first taste of blood in 2018. During an aggressive first inning on Sunday, Hajarna scored four runs off Tranås (1-1) starter Felix Casanova (1-0). Those runs were not only a result of the Sharks mastering the bats but also some errors from the home team.

Anywho, Tranås came right back in the bottom of the first inning and terrorised the Sharks starter José Martinez (0-1). The Sharks then came back with two runs in the second just to have Tranås equal those in the bottom half. Tranås had a decisive fourth inning where they scored three runs and took an 8-5 lead.

“Those balls were well hit and they found the holes in our outfield in that fourth inning,” Edgren says.

Göteborg put on the rally caps and brought the tying run to the plate in the last inning but could not get the baseball between or over the Tranås defense. Final score in the first game was 10-8 in favor of Tranås.

At the plate, the Sharks’ own version of ‘Vatos Locos’; José Martinez, Eric Marquez and José Muñoz was solid at the plate. All three went 2-4 and Martinez and Muñoz each had a double.

Exceptionally bad picture quality, but Los Vatos Locos was an offensive force in Tranås.

“We hit well. Next time we’ll also play better defense,” Edgren says.

Martinez put up a solid performance and went the distance in his official 2018 debut. He did not have the usual command of his pitches and gave up an uncharacteristic six walks. His strikeout total was as uncharacteristic, nothing only four K’s.

“He [Martinez] was a bit shaky at the start but recovered and was solid. Tranås hit his fastball well, but he’ll be fine,” Edgren says.

On the day, Martinez gave up ten runs (nine earned) on eleven hits, throwing 112 pitches.

The hard throwing Enrice Morton (0-1) started game two for the Tranås team and the Sharks went at it again. With the aggressiveness that coach Edgren been looking for, the Gothenburg team was credited with a three run first inning. Like the first game, it would be a roller coaster.

Tranås came right back in the bottom half and scored four of their own off Sharks young gun Shervin ‘The Shervinator’ Shakki (1-0). The Sharks, behind offensive juggernaut Muñoz, went back to swinging the bats and took two runs in the top half of the second for a 5-4 lead. A lead they would not relinquish.

Behind a solid defense, led by some defensive plays worthy of being web gems from Muñoz, the Sharks held on and added to their lead with three runs in the fourth and one in the seventh.

“The dandelions were pretty, but I got red dirt on my pants,” Rickard Kronqvist said after playing first base in the Sharks first victory of the season.

While that quote is both prosaic and weird, it does not take away anything from the Sharks’ performance in the second game.

Shakki got out of the way of this one.

Starting pitcher Shakki proved that he is gunning for a place in the rotation and willing to challenge for the place as the staff ace despite his young age. The ground ball machine went six innings, giving up four runs (one earned) on five hits and four walks, striking out one.

“He [Shakki] had a rough first inning but got better as the game went on,” Edgren says.

Edgren showed his intentions of being the Sharks closer as he called himself in from the bullpen to close out the game. A walk, hit and a run scored on a fielders choice was Edgren’s line on the first successful bullpen outing from him in the season.

All in all, the Sharks offense showed signs of progress and amassed 15 hits and 9 walks on on the day. Hits kept coming from all over the lineup and while veterans Kronqvist and Klas Brinkfeldt was kept hitless on the day, they have enough experience to know that winning one game is better than losing two.

BIrthday boy Ekström is waiting for the ball to hit him.

Notables:

Niclas Ekström went 1-3 with a walk on his birthday (and did get an HP as a gift).

Daniel Linnås was credited with his first official base hit.

Toofan Khazal was, as always, exceptionally solid behind the plate.

Joel Earnest played official baseball on the right side of 70.

There was no post game swimming excercise in Tranås.