Monthly Archives: June 2016

Sharks win, swim into the unknown

A sweep is now an ordinary thing.
Winning six games in a season is not.
“We played well today,” coach Jonny Edgren says.

Göteborg Hajarna (6-6) got off to a quick start on Sunday when they took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. They never looked back from that.

Behind Mokhlad Al-Ghaminis (2-3) terrific start on the mound they held the Malmö Pilots (2-6) scoreless through the first three frames at a cloudy and rainy Shark Park. After adding two more runs in the third inning, the Pilots got on the board in the fourth in what would prove their only run in this one.

Al-Ghamini struck out eleven in five innings of work, scattering two hits, one walk and the lone run (unearned) for his second win of the season. While at the plate, Al-Ghamini took matter in to his own hands scoring twice on two walks.

The Sharks as a team continued on their moneyball-inspired offense, totalling twelve walks and only one hit. On the basepaths they continued to be as effective as they have been all season. In this one, they stole 13 bases.

Josef Hussein continued to be the spark plug of that offense atop of the lineup, going 1-2 with two walks, a run scored and stealing three bases. With a 5-1 lead, Hussein came in to relieve Al-Ghamini on the mound and kept the Pilots scoreless in two innings on the hill, striking out four and giving up two hits.

Hajarna added a run in the sixth to win game one 6-1.

“We always win when I get hit by a pitch,” first baseman Niclas Ekström said.

With that fifth win of the season, the Sharks regional team swam in to unknown waters. Since the official statistic outlet is nothing close to the Elias Sports Bureau, this reporter might be wrong. But the Sharks has not won more than four games in a season since at least 2009.

The sixth win was not far away.

Mikael Lindquist got the nod for the second game of the double header and pitched well for three innings. With a relative solid defense, behind him, Lindquist gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits and four strikeouts while walking none.

The Pilots did, however, take the lead in game two. Scoring a run of Lindquist in the first inning but the Oakland Athletics look a likes would strike back.

In that bottom half of the first and the Sharks tied at 1-1, Joel Earnest, recently activated from the DL, broke the game wide open with a two RBI-single to center field.

Instead of 'cheese', this Sharks team yelled out "Winning is better than losing" as the picture was taken.

Instead of ‘cheese’, this Sharks team yelled out “Winning is better than losing” as the picture was taken.

Hajarna figured out Pilots starter Eric Browne early and added four more runs in that first inning before the Pilots finally got the third out.

In the fourth inning, and the Sharks leading 9-1, legendary pitcher Hiba Nabi entered from the bullpen and provided four innings of scoreless relief on two hits, four strikeouts and one walk.

“To have this kind of pitching depth is really something,” coach Jonny Edgren said.

The Sharks offense cooled off after the third inning and while getting people on base and in

scoring position, they literally ran in to trouble. Making some unusual baserunning gaffes.

“If anything, I guess that was our one not so good thing today. But I like to see the players being agressive on the basepaths,” Edgren added.

Hajarna committed a total of two errors in two games. Quite possibly the lowest total ever.

Jun Kono, Fredrik Unger and Hannes Wiström made the Sharks season debut on this day.

The Sharks are in fourth place at the moment. Altough they have played the most games in the league, they are well in the playoff race.

Al-Ghamini leads the lead in strikeouts, 22 K’s ahead of the Albys Ramon Illa in number two.

While lowering his OBP  some, Niclas Ekström is still third in the league in that category. Now with a measly .678 OBP.

Sharks give away two games to Tranås

Were you curious how you lose baseball games in an efficient way?
The Sharks excelled in that on Sunday.
“We just didn’t make the plays,” former bench coach Joel Earnest says.

The return of veteran Joe Lankford and having a full bench of players did not help as Göteborg Hajarna (4-6) basically handed Tranås (3-1) two victories last Sunday.

Once again, a no name reporter was named manager of the team in Jonny Edgren’s absence. He did not do well.

Joe Lankford was heard saying: "Winning is better than losing".

Joe Lankford was heard saying: “Winning is better than losing”.

After inserting himself third in the batting order he was helpless at the plate. Going 0-4 with two strikeouts and an error in right field,  adding frustration to the Hajarna faithful who turned out for the home opener.

The Sharks sent legendary pitcher Hiba Nabi (0-1) to the mound in the first game. Despite pitching well, Nabi had nothing to show for it at the end of the day. He ended up taking the loss, going six innings, giving up six runs (four earned) on seven hits, striking out seven and walking four.

Nabi lost the game on multiple errors from the Sharks’ defense as the Tranås defense was not up to speed with his pitching. On offense, the Sharks in general were decent enough but the run-producing side that has been thriving playing away from home seemed caught up in the seriousness of the moment in the first series at Shark Park.

The Sharks found themselves trailing in the first and were still trailing until they tied the game in the bottom of the fifth, just to give up the lead again in the sixth. In the end, Hajarna handed Tranås a 6-4 win in game one.

“We didn’t have it today. Neither offense nor defense showed up,” the interim manager said.

That same interim manager at least did something good that day. Benching himself and scribbling down Niclas Ekström’s name in the number three spot for game two.

Ekström, tied for second in the league in on base percentage (.714), promptly showed why the no name reporter should stick to coaching when he smacked a long double to left center and generating good at bats. Together with good defense from the Sharks in general, and excellent defense from catcher Toofan Khazal in particular, they kept it close.

Tranås and Hajarna traded runs for the first four innings behind Mokhlad Al-Ghaminis (1-1) solid start as the game was tied at 2-2 four innings. Mikael Lindquist threw a perfect fifth inning before the floodgates

Mokhlad Al-Ghamini was excellent on the mound in his start on Sunday.

Mokhlad Al-Ghamini was excellent on the mound in his start on Sunday.

opened. The Sharks gave away eight runs in that fateful inning, mostly with a display of bad defense.


“I guess the upside is that was a season’s worth of errors, hopefully we’re done with that now,” the interim manager said.

Al-Ghamini got a no decision behind his excellent pitching, going four innings of two-run ball, on seven hits and one walk, striking out eight.

Tranås eventually took game two 12-2.

Joe Lankford, in his comeback, walked twice scored a run and stole a base.

Joel Earnest was activated from the 60-day DL after the game. To make room on the roster, the interim manager put himself on the DL.

Mokhlad Al-Ghamini leads the league in K/9, striking out 16,71 per nine innings.

John LaChine also made his comeback on Sunday, going 1-3 with a walk and a run scored.

Next game is on Sunday, July 19th when the Malmö Pilots visit Shark Park, First pitch is at scheduled for 12:00.

What’s up, Ted Bratsberg?

In what hopefully will be a series of old friend-articles, we start off with pitcher and first baseman Ted ‘Teddy Ballgame’ Bratsberg. In the midst of the 2016 winter, Ted left Göteborg to study and play baseball (north of the wall) in Umeå.

– How is baseball life treating you in Umeå?

“Baseball in Umeå is a bigger thing than I could ever have hoped for. We play intrasquad games once a week with full team which, for me, is amazing. There’s a real spark up here!

Betweel the lines, one could almost think that  'Teddy Ballgame' thinks that winning is better than losing.

Between the lines, one could almost think that ‘Teddy Ballgame’ thinks that winning is better than losing.

– How are you doing on the field?
“I’m doing really well, both as a student and athlete. It was not a good feeling when The Sharks decided to fold the elite team when I, for the first time, felt like I was an asset to the team.”

“I needed a change of scenery and it was obvious to me that Umeå wants to win and promote to Elitserien, just like me”.

– How will Umeå Blue Harriers fare season?
“We had the best opening weekend I could have imagined with two wins. We’ve obviously come back to earth since and are now 2-4. But I believe in this team and we will do everything to get into the playoffs.”

– How much do you miss putting on that Sharks jersey?
“Of course I miss playing back home and even more so when The Sharks are playing so well this season.”

“But it is the same reasons I miss playing there that had me changing teams. The South league hasn’t changed at all the last seven years that I played so it’s nice to face new pitchers and players that love baseball as much as I do.”

– What are your thoughts on the Sharks matchup with Tranås this weekend?
“I expect nothing less than a sweep! With the kurdish duo of Hiba and Josef, nothing is impossible!”


Old farts can play – Sharks split series

Experience and veteran leadership was the Sharks strategy on Saturday.
It was a winning one, at least for one game.
“We’re not that old, right?”, coach Edgren says.

Mix experienced veterans like Jonny Edgren and Johan Weidolf with young guns like Shervin Shakki and Josef Hussein and you get what?

A winning team.

Göteborg Hajarna (4-4)  went to play at the friendly confines at Limhamnsfältet against Malmö Pilots (2-2) on Saturday with a team full of age difference and enthusiasm. Scarred veterans provided leadership and raw, young guns provided that youthful spark to have the Sharks take a early lead in the first game

The Sharks scored a run in the first inning of the first game and legendary pitcher Hiba Nabi kept the Pilots scoreless in the first frame. This looked like one of those close, low scoring affairs that we’ve seen in Malmö the last couple of seasons.

Not so fast.

Nabi, marked by illness, battled himself more than the Pilots as he let six runs score in the bottom of the second inning to give the Pilots a 6-1 lead. The Sharks came right back to score seven runs in the top of the third, just to have the Pilots add three of their own in the bottom half. After a scoreless fourth, the Sharks scored four in the fifth and one in the sixth to take a 13-12 lead.

As Nabi left the mound after two innings, his brother in arms Josef Hussein came in to pick him up. Hussein did just that, pitching well for five innings, giving up six runs (two earned) on five hits, striking out three and walking one.

Coach Edgren summarizing game one: "Winning is better than losing".

Coach Edgren summarizing game one: “Winning is better than losing”.

Hussein provided stability on the mound. On the diamond, coach Edgren and Johan Weidolf combined for outs from third to first like it was 1999. Weidolf also brought with his feared bat with him, going 4-5 on the day.

“We got the experience, the other guys got that youthful exuberance and the swag, it’s a good mix”, coach Edgren says.

Hussein (1-0) shut down the Pilots in order to earn the win in the seventh as Sharks held on to that 13-12 lead.

“We played well, especially offensively, but we got some work to do on defense. Minimizing the errors and making the basic plays”, coach Edgren says.

Mokhlad Al-Ghamini started the second game and looked sharp through two innings, striking out the side in the second. The Sharks offensive surge continued as they got to Pilots starter Ryo Ujimoto in the second, scoring three runs for an early lead. Al-Ghamini (1-3) lost his command in the third and fourth inning. The Pilots capitalized on that, scoring three runs in the and four in the fourth to take a commanding 7-3 lead. Rookie Al-Ghamini ended up taking the loss, giving up seven runs (three earned) on four hits and four walks while striking ten.

The Sharks then faltered on defense, adding to their error total as ‘Swirvin’ Shervin Shakki took the mound in the fifth. Those errors proved to be decisive as the Pilots added four runs, a lead the Sharks could not counter.

“We have to make the basic plays. It’s as simple as that”, Edgren added at the post game press conference.

Shakki pitched a scoreless fifth before shaky defense and well placed hits allowed the Pilots to load the bases in the sixth. Coach Edgren inserted himself on the mound but to no avail. The Pilots scored eight runs in that sixth inning to end the game 15-5.

Five sharks in their natural habitat for the traditional post game swim in the ocean.

Five sharks in their natural habitat for the traditional post game swim in the ocean.


Catcher Toofan Khazal was a difference maker on this day, providing stellar defensive work behind home plate.

Niclas Ekström was back at first base. Shockingly, he was not hit by a single pitch on this day either.

Joel Earnest was back on the coaching staff for this one and still owns that historically high 50 percent winning average as bench coach.

Six brave Sharks swam in the ocean after the game.





Sharks play well, win game

Apparently, playing well leads to winning games.
Apparently, winning is better than losing.
“I just don’t know how they will manage without me”, newly appointed bench coach Joel Earnest said.

Göteborg Hajarna (3-3) arrived at Tranås baseball field with just enough players to field a team. On the coaching side however, they were two deep.

With coach Jonny Edgren on scouting duties in eastern Europe, the club appointed some no-name reporter as token manager with Joel Earnest, currently on the DL, handling bench coach duties. The guy actually running the show on Saturday was Earnest.

And what a show it was.

"Winning actually is better than losing", Mikael Lindqvist said after getting his first win of the season.

“Winning actually is better than losing”, Mikael Lindqvist said after getting his first win of the season.

Hajarna came out firing on all cylinders in the first game, scoring two runs in the first and five runs in the second to take a 7-0 lead over Tranås (1-1) after two innings. Starter Mikael Lindqvist (1-1) in the end got the win after his his two innings of no hit ball, while going 2-4 with an RBI at the plate.

“Yes, Mikael had the no hitter going, he was pitching brilliantly, but we have such a deep pitching staff this year I felt it was time to get someone else out there”, Earnest said.

Josef Hussein came in to relieve Lindqvist and got to see the Sharks add five runs in the third, two runs in the fourth before they finally put up a zero in the fifth. Tranås tried to prolong the game in the fifth but Hussein put a stop to the rally and the Sharks won game one 14-3 in five innings.

Hajarna had quite a scare in the first inning as veteran catcher Toofan Khazal felt something in his back leg. Khazal, however, shook that off and caught 12 spotless innings behind the plate, adding two walks, one hit and three RBI’s on the day.

With the win, the Sharks had their first three game winning streak since 2011. That streak, sadly, wouldn’t last very long.

In the second game, Shark pitching was just as strong, but Tranås pitching was just a little stronger, the bats a little louder and the defense a little tighter.

Johannes Liljegren (1-0) started the game for Tranås and brought the Sharks offense back to earth. He went 6.1 innings allowing two runs on five hits while striking out 12 and walking four. That was something the Sharks couldn’t match on this day.

Catcher Khazal will, as always, be back in action next week.

Catcher Khazal will, as always, be back in action next week.

Tranås went to a 1-0 lead in the second and added two runs off Sharks starter Mokhlad Al-Ghamini (1-2). The Tranås hitters figured Al-Ghamini out and Earnest took him out for young gun Shervin Shakki in the fourth inning. Shakki pitched well for 1 & 1/3 inning before Earnest came with the hook. Entered the game did none other than Sharks legend Hiba Nabi, who pitched 1 & 2/3 inning of two run ball.

Eventually, Tranås took game two 8-2.

“Our defense really showed its potential in the first game,” says Earnest. “Good catches, good throws and generally smart play. The guys have put in the work and it’s beginning to show.”

Joel Earnest has the highest winning percentage of any bench coach in Göteborg Hajarna history.

Every Hajarna batter got on base in the first game.

The Sharks are in fourth place, well in the playoff race.

Next, the Sharks travel to Malmö on June 4th. The home opener is the following weekend, June 11th, when the Sharks host Tranås.