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Munich Caribes Win Regional Baseball Championship 

The Munich Caribes baseball players celebrate with a traditional pile-up on the pitcher's mound after clinching the Regionalliga championship on Saturday.
Photo: Douglas Sutton
Two tough games under a searing summer sun; two victories for the home team. The Munich Caribes baseball team clinched their first-ever Regionalliga-Southeast (3rd division) championship on the weekend, and celebrated the latest title not to be football related with a rousing champagne-and-beer celebration.Two wins over local rivals Gauting Indians by scores of 5-3 and 7-1 gave the Caribes a 20-3 season record with five games left. Second-placed Ellwangen Elks (15-9)  can now no longer catch the Munich club even if they win their four remaining games.

“It was another all-round team effort, just like the whole season,” player-coach Steve Walker commented afterwards. “And we made the Big Points just at the right moments. This team really knows how to play baseball.”

Walker himself produced one of those Big Points. In the first game, after the Caribes had quickly taken a 2-0 lead, Gauting fought back to take a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning. In their half of the inning, though, the Caribes roared back. Daisuke Komori led off with a double, and then Walker followed through with a powerful home run up in the treetops beyond the right field fence. The 2-run shot restored the Caribes lead to 4-3 and the home club added an insurance run in the sixth for what became the final 5-3 score.

München-Caribes-1024x683The second game was closer than the 7-1 score suggested, and again it was a Big Point - this time in the defence - that played a major role. The Caribes had quickly jumped to a 3-0 lead, including a 2-run homer by Mateo Gatica, but Gauting fought back. The Indians scored to make it 3-1, and then they loaded the bases with 2 outs before their best batter, US player Tom Sicking - he had hit a home run in the first game - came to the plate.

There was a tense duel between the Caribes second US pitcher, Nick Angstman, and Sicking at the plate. The batter then hit a screeching ground ball down the third base line. But the Caribes’ sturdy Russian third baseman Pjotr Andreev came up with a desperation diving stop and alertly scrambled to touch the base for the force out to end the inning. Fans and players alike couldn’t believe what they had just seen.

“That was huge, what Pjot did,” Walker said later. “If that ball gets through, at least 2 runners, maybe all three, come in to score, and then Gauting has regained the momentum. Who knows how the game might have turned out then?” Indeed, the great defensive play seemed to sap Gauting’s morale and the Caribes added more runs, including a solo home run by Ty Eriksen and a 2-run shot by Walker, his second round-tripper of the day.

The game’s end came with an exclamation point. Sicking hit a laser-shot line drive that Eriksen stretched out for in a goalkeeper-like dive to snare for the final out. Moments later, the players piled atop of each other in celebration on the pitcher’s mound, and then broke out the sparkling wine bottles to celebrate like champions.

Across town in the suburb of Haar, there were long faces as the Disciples made their quest for a post-season playoff berth in the 1. Bundesliga-South league a lot more difficult. Haar were beaten twice at home by fifth-placed Stuttgart Reds, 6-3 and 7-0. The results leave Haar with a 13-10 season record and with Stuttgart right behind at 13-11.

The Disciples have one game in hand, and still possibly the better chances of salvaging their fourth-place playoff spot; they play away at lowly Mannheim Tornados on August 10 and then at 3rd place Heidenheim a week later. But Stuttgart still has to face the top two teams, first-place Regensburg and second-place Mainz.

In the 2. Bundesliga-South, Baldham Boars did themselves and local rivals Haar Disciples 2 a favour by winning twice against the Karlsruhe Cougars, 14-12 and 16-12. The wins improved Baldham’s record to 8-9 and solidified their hold on fourth place. The result also dropped Karlsruhe to bottom of the 7-team table, with a 4-16 season record. The Haar 2 team is just ahead of them on 4-15 for sixth place, but it still looks like an uphill battle for the Haar junior varsity to avoid relegation.

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