Heartbreak, blowout and walkover wins

The Sharks has taken a lot of step forwards during the season.
Against the Firehawks, it was not far enough.
“We could be an Elitserien team again pretty soon,” Edgren says.

The Sölvesborg Firehawks (10-1) hosted the Sharks (7-5) on Sunday after a lengthy road trip for their Elitserien team where they played eight games in six days. And it was somewhat a mangled homeside that showed up, but still with the majority of the players made out of Elitserien players.

José Muñoz led off the game for the Sharks and got the scoring going right away as he gave the Sharks a 1-0-lead against the Firehakws starter Kevin Trudel (2-1).

José Martinez got the nod to start game one for the Sharks and started out great. He held the FIrehawks to one run in the first three innings and the Sharks kept going as they put up three more runs in the second. In the fourth, the hometeam had sort of figured Martinez out and tied the game up at four runs a piece.

Martinez was dealing.

The Sharks added a run in the fifth but the Firehawks tied it once more. Göteborg Hajarna kept on building that picket fence and went in to the bottom of the 7th leading 7-5. With Mokhlad al-Ghanimi on the mound, this game seemed all but over. The Firehawks, however, was not done. They chased al-Ghanimi off the mound and coach Edgren turned to starter Shervin Shakki (2-2) for the save. After a couple of questionable defensive plays for the Sharks, the hometeam could walk it off on a single with two outs that hit off of Jun Konos glove.

Khazal mumbled that winning was better than losing.

“We played well. As well as we’ve had all season and showed that we can play against an Elitserien team,” coach Jonny Edgren said in the post game interview.

As for the second game, the Göteborg Hajarna side looked heartbroken after the first one and well… let’s just forget about that one (Firehawks wone 10-0 in five innings).

On Wednesday, other news came in as the Norrköping Blue Sox, whom the Sharks were supposed to face on Saturday, had to cancel the games as they could not field a team.

“Norrköping Blue Sox:s hemmamatcher mot Göteborg nu på lördag den 5 augusti är tyvärr inställda. En lång skade- och sjukdomslista i vår A-trupp kombinerat med semestertider gör att vi inte får ihop en tillräckligt stor trupp för att klara lördagens dubbelmöte. Nästkommande dubbelmatcher i Regionserien blir nu borta mot Los Nicas i Alby den 20/8 och hemma mot Stockholm Bombers den 27/8.”

That leaves the Sharks at nine wins on the season and the playoff clinch looks awfully close.

Notables:

Hernan Martinez turned it what was probably one of the best umpire performances all season.

Muñoz leads the league in stolen bases and al-Ghanimi is tied for second in the same category.

al-Ghanimi and Martinez are second and fourth, respectively, in K/9.

The Sharks were only charged with one error in the first game. Needless to say, that would have been great but this mention has to go to the official scorer.

Sharks winless in Sölvesborg

The Sharks lost both games on Sunday in Sölvesborg.
“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes it rains”, Edgren says.

The Sharks were feisty and full of confident when they took the field against the Sölvesborg Firehawks at Deer Creek Park. And they played well. Leading pretty much all of the first game behind a strong outing from José Martinez, they went into the bottom of the 7th leading. A laser line drive with two outs changed all of that as the Firehawks walked it off 8-7.

Göteborg Hajarna will probably want to forget game two as fast as possible. Despite a solid start from ‘Swirvin’ Shervin Shakki, this one was lost from the get-go. Against the Firehawks squad, filled with Elitserien players, there is not much room for error. Sölvesborg took an early lead and never looked back as they mercy ruled the Sharks 10-0 in five innings.

This might be a Sharkhawk

“They are a strong team. Pretty much an Elitserien team and we were on the brink of winning the first one,” Coach Edgren says.

“Winning is better than losing, but this was a step forward,” he concluded as he walked away from the beat writers and Shark faithful who travelled to see the game.

Update to follow when boxscores are available.

 

Elite Matchup for Sharks in Sölvesborg

The doubleheader in Sölvesborg on July 29 promises to be the toughest yet for the Sharks, with the Firehawks filling out their short-handed regional squad with top elite players.

Sölvesborg’s regional team has an impressive record of 8-1, but it’s no secret around the league that much of their success is due to the infusion of players from their strong elite team, currently undefeated at 8-0.

With Sölvesborg B regularly starting five to six elite players in regional games, this is not your typical regional team. Then again, with Jose Munoz, Jose Martinez and Mokhlad Al-Ghanimi in the Gothenburg lineup, and backed by a host of other solid players, this year’s Sharks are not your typical regional team either. Although inconsistent at times, how well the Sharks do in Sölvesborg could give fans an indication of just how far this team can go. And it goes without saying, that winning is always better than losing.

“Playing an elite team in Sölvesborg will snap us out of holiday mode and into playoff mode,” says Coach Edgren, obviously looking forward to the challenge.

Coach Jonny Edgren

Sharks split with Tranås

As one winning streak ended, another began.
Sunday was an offensive outburst for the Sharks.
“We had pretty good discipline today,” coach Edgren says.

The surprisingly large turnout at Shark Park did not have much fun as game one got underway. Behind starter Mikael Lindquist (0-1), Göteborg Hajarna (7-3) were guilty of sloppy and unfocused defense. And as the Sharks faithful always preach, you can’t do that against Tranås (3-3).

The away team got to an early 5-0 lead in the 1st and added three more runs in the 3rd until the Sharks smelled blood and got back to life. Behind surprise relief pitcher number one of the day, Jonny Edgren, the Sharks added one run in the bottom half of the 3rd, three in the 4th and three in the 5th to make this a game again.

Alas, this one was not for the Sharks. A very questionable balk and an umpire missing a tag at third cost the Sharks one run in the 6th and one in the 7th. The Tranås side added another one to go into the bottom half of the 7th leading 11-8.

With two outs, the Sharks got going again and added two runs. With the tying run 90 feet away, Jun Kono, who was fighting a bad stomach, unfortunately flew out to center to end the game at 11-10 to Tranås, ending the Sharks four game winning streak.

“This is what happens when you give up those extra nineties, it cost us this game,” coach Edgren says.

al-Ghanimi was, as always, happy anyway.

With a depleted pitching staff, it was most welcome news when ace Mokhlad al-Ghanimi (3-1) unexpectedly showed up to play. Even with al-Ghanimi on the mound, the runs kept coming for Tranås anyway.

The former Iraqi national team player was somewhat erratic on the mound, hitting six Tranås players and walking five. He did, however, also go on to strike out seven leaving the Sharks defense with little to deal with. Behind the plate, veteran catcher Toofan Khazal was brilliant as he saved al-Ghanimi from having more than the four wild pitches that he amounted to.

Khazal desperately tried to hit with his catching gear on but to no avail.

After giving up one run in the 1st and two in the second, the Sharks fought back and tied the game in the bottom of the second. With that, al-Ghanimi settled down a little and looked more like his old self.

In relief came the second surprise relief pitcher of the day; none other than Kris Bryant’s best bud – Rickard Kronqvist. Making his regional series debut, Kronqvist was excellent and got some help from a solid defense. Kronqvist ended up getting the save, pitching three scoreless innings and giving up just two hits and a walk.

“Kris is most likely proud of me right now. He thinks winning is better than losing, so there’s that,” Kronqvist says.

At the plate, the Sharks added three more runs in the fifth and loaded the bases on multiple occasions without getting the clutch hit. However, the Sharks looked very good at the plate. Seldom wasting at bats and every player got on base one way or another. Promising for things to come.

Notables:

Order was restored as Niclas Ekström was once again hit by a pitch in the first game.

Joel Earnest made history in all kinds of ways. In the first game, he had his first career infield hit and then topping it with his first career double.

José Muñoz made a dazzling play when diving for a ball to get the out at second and combining with al-Ghanimi and Johan Weidolf to complete a slick double play in the 7th inning of the second game. A play that most likely would make the highlight reel in any MLB game.

Göteborg Hajarna has not scored ten runs and lost since 2012.

 

Sharks look to new arms against Tranås

Looks may be deceiving.
The same team might not be the same team.
“Other guys will have the chance to shine,” Coach Edgren says.

Swedish baseball, on occasion (or always), can be called bush league. During the hectic summer weeks, teams get depleted on the basis of vacations and such. Göteborg Hajarna (6-2) is no exception as they are short a whole pitching rotation coming into Sunday’s game versus Tranås (2-2).

With Mokhlad al-Ghanimi (3-3), Shervin Shakki (2-1) and José Martinez (2-0) all out of action, the Sharks will have to look for new arms to step up against the division rival Tranås.

“I feel ready, I feel confident, put me in coach and all that good s**t,” Eric Marquez says.

When arriving in Sweden, Marquz realized that winning is better than losing.

Marquez is an option that the Sharks coaching staff is mulling over. As is coach Edgren himself who’s had success over two centuries. Other than that, veteran reliever Joel Earnest is available as well as Toofan Khazal and Rickard Kronqvist.

“We have multiple options, I just want to help the team and I’m ready to do so if skip needs me,” Marquez says.

On the offensive side of the ball the Sharks are looking to comeback kid José Muñoz to spearhead his team. Muñoz would have been gunning for the league lead in most offensive categories if it would not have been for the ridiculous and stupid rules of Heatstat. Nonetheless, Muñoz is sporting a cool .615/.769/.1475 slashline going into Sunday’s game.

The Sharks have had a short summer holiday as they’ve not played in the regional series for three weeks when they swept the Pilots in Malmö. Coach Edgren did, however, had a squad in Skövde a week ago for some SWBL action.

Tranås, on the other hand, has not had a regular season games since May 21st when they swept the Sharks at home.

First pitch is at 12.00 @ Shark Park. Make sure to be there early before the bleachers are full.

Back to the Sands of Malmö

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.


Swervin Shervin, flashing the leather in Malmö

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.

Miracle day as Sharks sweep Bats

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 weather was not kind on this day.

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.

Notably, that Sharks defense was led by comebacking José Munoz and Niclas Ekström (both coming off the DL just in time for the game) and the solid battery of Martinez and Zaki Yamazaki.

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.

Edgren rounding up the day.

“We had great discipline today, that was the key for us,” coach Edgren said.

Notables:

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.

 

Not so baby Sharks try out for junior national team

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.

Wiström and Shakki at the field after the subway adventures.

“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.

A group of people who agreed that winning is better than losing.

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.

Baby Sharks play for Skövde

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.

Cassani might be contemplating if winning is better than losing?

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.

André at the plate.