For each game of the U16 Suma Open Tournament 2017 there is a game report in english language.
ABA U16 vs Serbia U16, 12-0
On Thursday, starting pitcher Marcel Mariette faced Team Serbia in a game that everyone expected the Academy boys to win. And they came out of the blocks quick with 7 unanswered runs in the first inning already, albeit with considerable help from Serbian defenders. From then on, the intensity on the Austrian side clearly went down a bit and so it took a while until they came back and scored 1 and 4 more runs in innings 3 and 4.
Most of the offensive damage was being done by Moritz Bickel, Tobias Kiefer, and Georg Stemmer, hitting doubles all over the place.
Meanwhile, Mariette kept dealing on the mound. Alex Kienberger came in in relief and shut down the Serbian offense in the 4th to finish the game, which ended by mercy rule, 12-0.
ABA U16 vs. Swiss U16, 5-4
With a second win on Friday, the Austrians could finally secure a spot in the top 8 round at the SUMA Open again, after a number of years of more or less close misses. However, the Swiss had the same aspirations and no intention to make it easy for their neighbors.
Following a rather uncontested day one 12-0 victory against Team Serbia, our U16 ABA team almost got caught on the wrong foot. It took a 6th inning walk-off double by Chris Hoscher to come from behind and win it 5-4.
Angelo Thau took the mound for Austria and stayed sharp for 5 innings, throwing 60 pitches and allowing only 1 earned run. But his defense let him down several times, which allowed the Swiss to pull ahead 1-0 and 2-0. A hustling Justin Fürböck got one run back on a wild pitch, before the Swiss scored again to re-establish their 2-run lead. Eventually, the red-white-red offense started to wake up in the 4th and 5th innings. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Tobi Kiefer hit a sac fly to bring Austria within one run, coming in from the bench, Chris Hoscher tied the game with a single to left. One inning later, a hustle around the bags after a walk brought around Mariette, putting the Austrians up, 4-3.
As time had expired (90-minute game time limits), Nicholas Schadler came in to close it out inthe bottom half of inning 6. A comebacker that ricocheted off his left knee put the lead-off batter for the Swiss on first base. Fortunately, Schadler was able to continue. A single through the shortstop hole put runners on 1st and 2nd, who immediately got bunted over by the next batter. With 2 strikes on him, the next batter put a big swing on the ball, causing it to softly roll towards Schadler, whose throw home came late and allowed the Swiss to tie the game.
But Schadler stayed calm and struck out the next guy for out number two. What followed was a bizzare situation, caused by the home plate umpire calling a third strike on the following batter and ringing him up. Faced with confusion amongst Swiss players and coaches, he repeated "three outs, three outs". The Austrian defense started to walk off the field. Realizing that, the Swiss baserunner on 3rd base started running home and crossed home plate. When the smoke of discussion and argument had finally settled, it was decided that, apparently, the umpire had got the count wrong, and runners were sent back. Breaking ball, swing and miss, inning over.
Moritz Bickel led off the bottom of the inning with a quick walk and stole second. Justin Fürböck followed with a single through ghe shortstop hole and took second base on the throw home, while Bickel was held at 3rd base. Hoscher stepped into the box determined to end it right there. After taking a ball and fouling one off, he hit the third pitch for a towering drive to deep right centerfield, causing a big sigh of relief amongst the Austrian coaching staff, players, and fans. Final score 5-4.
ABA U16 vs. Holland B, 6-4
What a game! In an exciting and high-class Friday nightcap our U16 team defeated Holland B 6-4 to win their group and avoid Holland A in the quarterfinals. W: Vanas, S: Amon; clutch hitting: Hoscher, Mariette, Fürböck, Stemmer; sixth tool: everyone.
In order to win the group, coach Heisler sent one of his aces to the mound: Christoph Vanas. And he did not let his team down. Vanas battled against the strong offensive Dutch lineup and won more often than not. In front of a capacity crowd mainly cheering for Holland, but also an animated delegation of Austrian parents and friends, our boys stood up to the challenge like men and provided what finally turned out to be one of the best and most exciting games of the whole tournament.
In a seesaw affair, Austria took the lead early in the first, courtesy of great at bats from Stemmer, Fürböck and Mariette. But the Dutch immediately answered with 4 runs of their own in the 2nd inning. From then on ist was a pitchers' duel for the most part, featuring a few defensive highlights by shortstop Justin Fürböck and third baseman Tobi Kiefer, until the Austrians finally came through again in the 4th. With runners on 2nd and 3rd base, Chris Hoscher came to the plate and smashed the ball through the shortstop hole for a 2 RBI single, wearing a smile on his face rounding 1st base, jokingly referring to his afternoon heroics with the words "clutch kid is back again"...
But the Academy boys weren't done, yet. Again, they came through big at the plate with two more runs and put the Austrians ahead, 6-4, entering the final inning of the game. With one out and a runner on first base, closer Florian Amon replaced Vanas after his stellar outing, and immediately walked the first batter he faced, but made the next guy pop up into an infield fly. Tension was high and the Dutch crowd all amped up, chanting "Holland! Holland" into the Prague night, when the next Dutch batter hit a screaming line drive to center field. Stemmer charged the ball hard and fired it towards home plate while the runner from 2nd base had rounded 3rd. Halfway down the line, he had to realise that Stemmer's throw was absolutely perfect and Hoscher, the catcher, had caught it already. He slammed on the breaks and tried to get back to 3rd base, with Hoscher trying to chase him down. The ball went back and forth until Amon got it coming from home plate and - exactly when the 90-minute time limit had expired - made the tag for the final out of the game.
ABA U16 vs. Bordeaux Academy, 2-7
Saturday and Sunday had a number of highs and lows in store for our U16 team in Prague. After the impressive win in their Friday night game against Holland behind a Christoph Vanas pitching gem, a defensive showcase and offensive bullfight, our boys had to go at it again Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. The Bordeaux Academy team had shown some strong performances in the tournament, but seemed beatable in Austria's quarterfinal matchup.
As a precautionary measure, a last-minute scratch from the lineup (Vanas, LF) had forced coach Heisler to send Nicholas Schadler, who was scheduled to come in to pitch in relief at any time in the game, to play leftfield. This turned out to play a crucial role later on.
As the French had so far looked very capable of hitting average speed pitching in the tournament, coach Fredi Heisler sent hard-throwing Konstantin Teufel to the mound to keep the French bats quiet. The plan appeared to work in the first inning, although they managed to get a run across after Teufel had hit the French lead-off batter with a pitch.
Austria came out of the gates strong again and answered with 2 runs to take the lead after one inning. The French defense looked uncommonly nervous in the beginning and committed a series of errors to help Austria score. French batters also had their share of problems to cope with Teufel's pitching and could not really connect at any point in the game. They only hit two balls hard in the entire game, a line out to centerfield and a fly out to rightfield. However, they did manage mo make contact and challenged the Austrian defense with swinging bunts, slow rollers and bloop hits. The Austrian side, too, had a hard time adapting to the low arm slot of the hard-throwing French pitcher, and an even harder time accepting the plate umpire's sometimes mysterious interpretation of the strike zone. His base umpire blended in well with a couple of unexpected safe and out calls.
Unfortunately, Teufel's control was on and off right from the start, and therefore had to deal with a lot of baserunners all the time. In the second inning, with a 2-1 lead, the bases loaded, 2 outs and 2 strikes on the batter, Teufel threw a changeup high. The batter started his swing early, checked it and punched the ball over the third baseman's head for a single. Schadler, playing leftfield, chased the ball towards the foul line, but tripped, rolled over, banged his head against the wooden fence and remained on the ground while the ball continued rolling all the way back into the leftfield corner. Shortstop Fürböck had to run out and get the ball. But once the ball got back to the infield all the runners had scored and the Bordeaux team had taken a 5-2 lead.
Schadler had to come out of the game, but fortunately, did not show any signs of concussion and was able to stay in the tournament. But team Austria looked startled by what had happened. Gone were the energy and determination that had brought them to this point, and the bats stayed quiet for the rest of the game. Later in the game, the French managed to score 2 more unanswered runs and made their way to the semifinals. Eventually, they were only stopped by Team Holland A in the final.
It had felt like a game the Austrians could have and should have won, which made the loss even more painful. But the boys had to accept that it was one of those games, when it felt like everything that could have gone wrong did actually go wrong. The afternoon game against the Belgium Academy would give them a chance to pick themselves up and show what they are made of.
ABA U16 vs. Belgium Academy, 13-3
And pick themselves up was what they did, and in a an impressive fashion. Young Tobias Kiefer got the call to pitch for the ABA team, and late "call-ups" Felix Astner (1B) and Jan Hoffmann (LF) got a chance to start. Kiefer mowed the Belgian side down throwing 3 perfect innings to start the game. He ended up allowing 1 earned run on 2 hits, no walks, striking out 6 (out of 15 batters) in 4 innings, throwing only 44 pitches ina stellar outing. He certainly deserved the win along with a huge ovation by the crowd when he handed the ball to reliever Lucas Eder in the 5th. Eder himself started with a K, but then lost his composure a bit when a few mishaps on the field allowed 3 runners to score for the Belgians. In the end, closer Florian Amon came in, threw one single pitch, inducing a double play and sending his offense back to the plate with a 7-3 lead.
What followed was probably one of the most unexpected and improbable highlights of the day and maybe the tournament for the Austrians. With Felix Astner at the plate, a runner on 1st base and a 1-1 count, the Belgian pitcher delivered a low fastball. Left-handed swinging Astner got a hold of it, launched it into the wind blowing out towards rightfield and said good-bye to his first career home run, dashing around the bags and only stopped by an enthusiastic mob of his teammates in front of the dugout. (Fun side note: Astner finished in a tie with only six other players for the home run crown of the tournament, as nobody hit more than one.)
At that point, the game had been decided. The Austrians added 4 more runs in the 5th inning, the last of them via a walk-off bloop fielder's choice off the bat of Jan Hoffmann, who had also shown up going 2-for-4 at the plate. Final score: 13-3 (mercy rule after 5 innings).
ABA U16 vs. Holland B, 7-10
On Sunday, in the game for 5th place, the ABA team wanted to repeat their victory against Team Holland B by sending ace Tyler Pförtner to the mound. Everything went as planned for the first 3 innings. Austria had already scored 7, while Pförtner had held the Dutch down to one run. With one out in the 4th and two runners on base, Justin Fürböck, who had not been pitching in the tournament so far, should get his chance to shine. With a crisp fastball and a nasty breaking ball in his arsenal, he looked set to keep the Dutch at bay. However, his nerves seemed to get the best of him and he struggled finding the zone right from the start.
Unfortunately, his defense let him down several times, too. With a runner on 1st and 2nd he induced a double play gound ball, but the defense threw the ball away, which put him under pressure even more. Meanwhile the Dutch had made some switches, too, putting in a few of their best players, which they had left on the bench before. Fürböck did come out of the 4th still with a 7-5 lead, but the Dutch continued to roll in the 5th, and Fürböck's struggles of finding the zone continued, too. Again, plays weren't made, either (like an easy force out at home with the bases loaded, which allowed the go-ahead run to score). Amon came in to finish the inning, but in the end, the Dutch went into the last half inning of the game, the tournament, with a 10-7 lead.
Other than a walk, the Austrians could not get anything going in their offensive inning anymore and they had to concede the final game to the Dutch.