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Updated: April 21, 2021
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Copyright © 1997-2021
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2021 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by Henk Seppen, Dornbirn Indians & Marco Stoovelaar)

No-Hitter in Austrian Bundesliga; Grasshoppers and Indians lead

DORNBIRN / FELDKIRCH / TRAISKIRCHEN / VIENNA / WIENER NEUSTADT (Austria) - Traiskirchen Grasshoppers and Dornbirn Indians are the two division-leaders after the second round of games that was played last weekend (April 17-18) in the Austrian Baseball Bundesliga, which opened on Friday-evening, April 9. Last Saturday (April 17) was highlighted by a No-Hitter.

Nine teams play in the highest baseball-league in Austria, five in Division Ost and four in Division West. Both Grasshoppers and Indians won their first four games on the season and with that, they are the leaders in respectively Ost and West.

Not much news has been published in this site in recent years regarding baseball in Austria. So, some historical background-information is included in this article. Baseball was already played in Austria in the fifties by American military personnel stationed in the country. The sport really started to develop more in the early eighties. In 1983, the Austrian Baseball and Softball Federation was founded as Österreichischer Baseball und Softball Verband. In 1984, the first baseball-competition was organized and in 1992, the first softball-competition. At the moment, there are 49 baseball- and softball-clubs in the country. In 2019, the National Baseball Team of Austria finished in tenth place in the European Championship in Germany, while the National Softball Team finished 13th in the European Championship in the Czech Republic and Poland.

The five teams in the Divison Ost all play in the area of the beautfil capital Vienna, which is located at the famous river Danube. The capital is the cultural, economic and political center of Austria and is also known as the City of Music due to the many famous composers, such as father and son Johann Strauss, Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who all lived in Vienna. Other legendary classical composers who worked in Vienna included Johannes Brahms, Joseph Haydn, Gustav Mahler and Franz Schubert and in the many years of the last century Robert Stolz.

...Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
In Hietzing, which is a district of Vienna, the famous Schönbrunn Palace is located, which since the 1740s was the main Summer residence of the Habsburg-family, which was one of the most prominent Royal Houses in Europe. Franz Joseph (1848-1916), the longest-reigning Emperor of Austria, spent the most of his life in this Palace. He was married to the legendary Empress Elisabeth, who is more known as 'Sissi'. In 1955-1957, three famous films were made about the life of Sissi, directed by Ernst Marischka with Romy Schneider portraying Sissi. Schönbrunn Palace is one of the many attractions in Vienna.

In the opening game on April 9, Traiskirchen Grasshoppers recorded a big 17-1 victory in seven innings in an away-game against Wiener Neustadt Diving Ducks in Wiener Neustadt. This city is located 61 kilometers south of capital Vienna and is the site of one of the oldest military academies in the world, the Theresian Military Academy, which was established in 1752 by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. Grasshoppers led 5-1 after five innings, but then rallied for five runs in the sixth and added seven more in the seventh at bat. Grasshoppers collected 11 basehits, including four by first baseman Phillip Brenner, who scored twice and also batted in two runs. Playing in leftfield for the home-playing Diving Ducks was Dutch player Rick van Dijck, who was 0-for-2.

The next day, playing at home at Hoppersfield, Grasshoppers nipped Diving Ducks, 10-9 in Traiskirchen (20 km south of Vienna), which has the oldest public astronomical observatory in Lower Austria (Niederösterreich). In this suspenseful game, Grasshoppers came from behind. The team trailed 9-5 after eight innings, then rallied for five runs in the bottom of the ninth to win! In this game, Phillip Brenner homered twice and batted in three runs.

Dutchman Rick van Dijck started as pitcher for Diving Ducks and struckout six batters in six innings. He gave up ten basehits, but when he left the mound, his team was leading 8-4. In the bottom of the ninth, Grasshoppers scored two runs on a triple by Tobias Werner, who then scored himself on a grounder by Kervin Castillo. The tying run was then scored on a basesloaded walk for Philipp Eckel and Tobias Kiefer then followed with a walk-off single that gave Diving Ducks the come-from-behind victory.

...Rick van Dijck pitching for...
...The Hawks in 2013...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
The 27-year old Rick van Dijck is playing in his second season for Diving Ducks after having played in the Czech Republic since 2014. The lefthander played in five seasons (2014-2018) for Eagles Praha in the Extraliga and one for SaBaT Praha with whom he promoted to the highest league in 2019. In 2013, Van Dijck played in the Dutch big league for The Hawks. In that season, he pitched in 22 games (all in relief) and was 1-0 with 22 strikeouts. During the 2015 season, Van Dijck threw one inning in one game for UVV in the highest league. He also played for Twins Oosterhout in the second highest league in the Netherlands in 2012. Last year, Van Dijck was 4-3 with a 4.39 ERA for Diving Ducks and struckout 54 batters in 55 1/3 inning, pitching in 10 games (all starts).

Last Sunday, Grasshoppers played a double-header at home against Feldkirch Cardinals and recorded two big shutouts, 14-0 and 17-0, which both ended in 6½ inning. In the first game, leading 4-0, Grasshoppers scored ten runs in the fifth inning. Tobias Werner and Kervin Castillo homered. In the second game, the team scored eight runs in the fifth inning and collected 19 basehits, including four by Werner, who batted in five runs.

Diving Ducks split with Vienna Wanderers last weekend. On Friday (April 16), the team won 10-5 at home, scoring four runs in the third and fourth inning. The team collected 13 basehits, including three by Moritz Scheicher, who also scored three runs. On Sunday, the team was shutout 4-0 by Wanderers, which scored three runs in the fifth at bat. The games were played at Ballpark Spenadlwiese, which also is the home-site of Vienna Metrostars in the capital and has been used for several international events in Vienna. All runs were scored off of Rick van Dijck, who started for Diving Ducks and struckout six batters in five innings. Julio Diaz had three basehits and batted in two runs for the team from Vienna. For Wanderers, these were their first games of the season, as the team was off in the Opening Weekend.

...Lochlan Southee...
(© Photo: Dornbirn Indians)
Vienna Metrostars, which is in second place in the Ost Division and is the reigning champion, opened the season two weeks ago with two wins against Schwechat Blue Bats, 16-2 and 18-7, in a double-header. The team recorded eleven basehits in the opener, including four by Sammy Hackl, who doubled and homered and batted in six runs. Dominik Löffler hit an inside-the-park-homerun and batted in five runs. Last Saturday, Metrostars split a double-header with ASAK Athletics Attnang-Puchheim. The team from Vienna won the first game with a 3-1 score, then Atletics won the second game, 7-4. In the second game, Raphael Mayr was 4-for-5 for Athletics.

Schwechat Blue Bats also was left empty-handed last Saturday when it lost both games of an away double-header against Dornbirn Indians, 11-6 and 3-2. In the second game, the home-team erased a 2-1 deficit by scoring twice in the eighth inning. Australian Lochlan Southee dominated, went the distance and threw a No-Hitter. The 21-year old lefthander struckout 19 batters! However, halfway the sixth inning, Southee and his team faced a 2-0 deficit. Blue Bats opened the score in the top of the fourth inning. Lukas Schütz then led off with a walk and with one out, he moved to third base when a strikeout for Braudy De Leon Morel ended in a passed ball. When the latter stole second base, a throwing error followed enabling Schütz to score. The visiting team doubled its lead in the sixth inning and again the run was scored by Schütz. This time, he walked with one out, stole second base and scored when Severin Schütz reached on a throwing error. Indians got a run back in the bottom of the sixth when Marcel Jäger led off with a single and scored on an one-out single by Joachim Frick. The home-team then turned the game its way in the bottom of the eighth. Frick then led off with a walk, stole second base, advanced on a wild pitch and scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly by American Chris Squires. With two outs, Marcel Theiner walked, stole second base and scored the go-ahead run on a triple by Michael Jäger. In the top of the ninth, Southee then struckout the side to raise his total to 19 and celebrated his No-Hitter as a winning pitcher. Since 2017, the pitcher, nicknamed 'Locky', played in three seasons for Perth Heat in the Australian Baseball League.

In the Opening Weekend, Southee also was the winning pitcher in Game 2 of a double-header against ASAK Athletics Attnang-Puchheim. He then struckout eight batters in seven innings, giving up only three basehits. In both games, Indians trailed 1-0 in the sixth inning, but then turned the game around in its sixth at bat. The team then scored four runs in the first game and three in the second to respectively win 4-1 and 3-1.

As there are nine clubs in the league, one of them is off each round. As mentioned, Vienna Wanderers was off in the Opening Weekend. Last weekend, Hard Bulls had no games scheduled. This team opened the season two weeks ago with a split against Feldkirch Cardinals. Both games were played at the home-site of Cardinals in Feldkirch, which is an old medieval town in the west of Austria and borders the countries of Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In the first game, the visiting Bulls won 12-2, scoring nine runs in the fifth through seventh inning in the 7-inning game. Winning pitcher Pascal Campregher struckout ten batters and gave up only two hits in five innings. In the second game, Cardinals trailed 5-1 after two innings, came alongside and won 13-9.

(April 21)

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