Joudrs and Spectrum Win Czech Titles
Final games held on the weekend of 10th and 11th October decided who the 2015 Czech Extraliga Champions are in both categories. In the women’s top-tier competition, it is Joudrs Praha who are celebrating after they swept the defending champions Eagles. In men’s Extraliga, Spectrum managed to defend their title a won the Czech trophy for the fourth time in the past five years, beating the Beavers in four games.
Joudrs Defeat Rival Eagles to Ascend to Throne
Joudrs Praha has long been counted among the elite clubs in the Czech competitions, and recently, they have also had considerable success in European cup competitions. The team has dominated regular season and the semifinals for several years, but since 2011 the end of the season has always been the same for them - they lost the final series to Eagles Praha. The final series saw the same match-up again this year. There was no way the orange-and-blue team would put up with losing to their rivals for the fifth time in a row, and they did everything they could to make sure they get their hands on the coveted trophy. Their coaches even decided to put Eva Rendlová into the pitching circle, even though it had been a while since she last pitched such an important game. Their young hurler Apolena Výborná also did her part, their defense was almost perfect and they managed to get some timely hits. Denisa Podzimková especially was on fire, batting .462 in the play-offs.
Despite Joudrs sweeping their opponents, the games were always very close - 3:1, 3:1 and 3:2. Joudrs clinched the title in Game 3 played on their home turf in Svoboda Park. Facing elimination, the Eagles managed to tie the game in the top part of the seventh inning. In the bottom of the game, Jakešová opened up with a ground-rule double. The Eagles then decided to walk Rendlová and it all came down to Lemberková. She hit one deep into right field, about two meters shy of the fence, to record the walk-off hit that won the series.
“I don’t even know what to say. It’s all just great. We swept the Eagles and got to clinch the cup in front of our home crowd,” said the happy Lucie Zappová, who shut the Eagles down in key situations. “I think strength and power kept growing within us for four years. Every year we had to shake it off and move on - and that’s a tough thing to do. It was frustrating - once you make the finals, the cup is within your grasp. Now I am super-happy and I hope that we can keep winning for several years to come,” added the pitcher, who is also part of the Czech national squad.
Spectrum Beat Beavers to Defend Title in Vrbensky's Last Series
This year, Spectrum marched through the Czech Extraliga in an impressive fashion. The Vultures from Prague’s Black Bridge were missing a couple of key players during the season, but they went unbeaten through regular season, and everybody was expecting them to make their way through the play-offs in similar fashion. Advancing straight to the semifinals, the team composed of some of the core players of the Czech national team faced the Havlíčkův Brod Hippos, who picked up the Australian pitcher Tyson Duncan. The team from the Vysočina Region won the first two games and were one win away from clinching a spot in the final series for the first time in history. However, the experienced team from Prague came back, turned the series around and won 3:2.
For the sixth time in a row, Spectrum faced Beavers Chomutov in the final series. The Beavers have made the finals for 19 years in a row, winning 11 times. In Game 1, held at Copacabana, the brutal force of their line-up won the game for the Vultures. A day after that, in Game 2, the 46-year-old pitching legend Lubomír Vrbenský allowed only two runs and the Beavers tied the series. In Game 3, Spectrum crushed the Beavers by a score of 10:3. The series then went back to Chomutov for Game 4. In a very close game, Marek Malý put his team ahead by a solo-shot. Spectrum got the tying run in the top of the seventh inning, and then the game went to extra innings. Beavers managed to load the bases, but did not get the clutch hit they needed to force Game 5. In the ninth, Spectrum scored four runs on an RBI single by Tomáš Petr and two homers by Mertl and Terkelsen and won the game 5:1.
“The hardest part was finding the will to fight when we were down 2:0 against Havlíčkův Brod and we were on the verge of elimination. What was definitely key for us was the fact that Patrik Kolkus and Tomáš Petr got back into our line-up after their injuries (Tomáš Petr’s cast was removed about 9 days before the start of the final series), which helped us both defensively and offensively. We came together as a team, with different players stepping up in each of the games. It was a tough season for us, but in the end, it all worked out well - I guess all the hard work in practice paid off,” said David Mertl, the team captain.
Final Series of the Czech Extraliga
Joudrs Praha – Eagles Praha 3:0 (3:1, 3:1, 3:2)
1. Joudrs Praha
2. Eagles Praha
3. Snails Kunovice
Spectrum Praha – Beavers Chomutov 3:1 (6:1, 2:3, 10:3, 5:1)
1. Spectrum Praha
2. Beavers Chomutov
3. Eagles Praha
Photos by Jan Beneš and Miroslav Zajíc
- Pavel Hrdina, Jakub Kopřiva-