At the start of last season, this team scrambled to get nine guys for a game.
The turnaround is real.
Göteborg Hajarna clinched a spot in the second playoff round.
As always, the matchup against the Malmö Pilots (0-16) proved to be the as friendly and pleasant as always. This time, Shark Park had standing room only as the bleachers were filled as game one got underway.
Göteborg Hajarna (9-5) got going right off the bat as they feasted on Pilots starter Eric Browne (0-7). The Pilots ace fought the Sharks batters and the strike zone as he walked nine sharks on the day.
With the offensive juggernaut that is José Muñoz atop the Sharks lineup, the home team did not look back after the first inning. They kept on walking like they were Nancy Sinatra and added three more runs in the third and fifth inning. An insurance run was added in the sixth to make it an even ten on the day.
The newly emerged, comebacking ace José Martinez (3-0) left nothing to chance as he started game one for the Sharks. Aside from the second inning when he let up a little and allowed two runs to pass home plate, he was very good indeed.
Martinez went the distance for his third win of the season. He gave up six hits, two runs (one earned) while striking out six and walking only third. Solidifying his position as one of the premier pitchers in the regional series.
“We played a solid game, only on defensive error. Despite a couple of miscues on the basepaths, I’m happy,” the interim manager, who filled in for Coach Jonny Edgren, said.
The second game of the day had quite possibly the longest first three innings of any baseball played. Ever. In the history of time. The pilots opened the scoring as they took two runs in the first. The Sharks answered right back with seven of their own as Pilots starter Thomas Hanses (0-3) fought valiantly against the strike zone. He ended up walking eleven Sharks in his three innings of work.
Hajarna capitalised on that and added five more runs in the second and six more in the third for a total of 18 runs against Malmös seven.
Sharks second starter of the day, ‘Swirvin’ Shervin Shakki (3-3) fought a totally different enemy in his start – baseballs. Despite pitching well and having great control, Shakki gave up seven runs (all earned) on the day. The problem was that all those balls found holes and/or players to bounce off of. It was quite comical on several occasions as it seemed the balls looked to hate gloves as much as the Lannisters hate Targaryens.
Besides Muñoz, comeback kid Lars Karlsson and old friend Mokhlad al-Ghanimi led the offensive onslaught for the Sharks. Karlsson went 2-2 on the day with both hits being doubles and adding a walk. Karlsson is hitting has a solid .1000/.1500/.2500 slash line on the season.
“I’ve heard that winning is better than losing, so I swung the bat,” Karlsson humbly said after the game.
Overall, the Sharks saw some new faces at new positions. Besides Karlsson, Rickard Kronqvist did an admirable effort at first base, Eric Marquez did his best to be ‘Logie Bear‘ at 2nd base and white shark Johan Weidolf played third base like it was 1999.
“We have great depth, quite possibly the deepest team in the league. When we’re good, we’re good,” the interim manager said.
With the two wins and with some help from Alby, the Sharks has, as far as I can figure it out, clinched a spot in the second round of the playoffs. Therefore, the likely matchup will be against Alby and it will be on the road.
Niclas Ekströms injury concerns continues. He was also not hit by a pitch.
Kronqvist stole a base.
Ted Bratsberg was seen in the stands. He did not help out while the fence was set up.
In the first game, only one run was scored as an RBI.