18th NM title for the Pretenders.
Sept. 15-16, 2012
-by Leif Petter Sandvik
Oslo Pretenders beat Øhil Royals 2 games to 1 for the Norwegian Championship. The favorites were stunned by a loss in the first game but fought back hard to win the last two games. Strong pitching and timely hitting proved to be the decisive force as the Pretenders defended their NM title. The club now has 33 titles in total - meaning the Pretenders just passed Rosenborg BK as the 5th most successful ball club in Norway!
The first game of the NM finals was a "Japanese" pitching matchup between Leif Petter Sandvik (Pretenders, born in Kobe) and Ryo Hasegawa (Royals). Going undefeated through the preliminary rounds, the Pretenders were huge favorites to take home the trophy in a two-game sweep. However, strong pitching from Japanese import Hasagawa and a number of defensive errors on the Pretenders side spelled the first defeat of the season for the Oslo Pretenders. The two teams exchanged the lead seven times during the course of the game, and with the score tied 4-4, the game went into extra innings. In the top of the 8th inning ØHIL Royals managed to score a run on a sacrifice fly, thereby securing the upset victory as the Pretenders did not manage to score in their bottom half of the inning.
The second game of the day saw a pitching-matchup between Americans Ty Tollestrup (Royals) and the ever-lasting Pretenders ace Glenn Wells. The Pretenders jumped out to an early lead on Leif Petter Sandvik's Grand Slam in the second inning. Michael Penn, Matthew Connell and Luis Lara also produced offensively, giving the Pretenders a solid lead. Wells pitched 3 innings for the Pretenders, allowing one run on five hits, one strikeout and no walks. Osmani Perez came on in relief for an impressive outing against the ØHIL Royals lineup, giving up just one hit in 4 innings of work. The Pretenders cruised to a comfortable 12-3 victory, setting the stage for a final showdown and a decisive game the following Sunday.
While the weather was at its best on Saturday, the following day was cold and windy; a typical autumn day in Norway. Glenn Wells started on the mound again, with fellow American Ty Tollestrup also starting for the ØHIL Royals. The two first innings passed without either team scoring, but the game broke open when the Pretenders scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Royals couldn't get anything going against Wells, but as soon as he left the game the Royals scored 3 in the top of the 4th. It looked as though it would be a close game but when the Pretenders scored 3 in the bottom of the 5th inning, and yet another run in the 6th, the game seemed to be running in favor of the Pretenders. Offensively Terje Hoaas had a great day, going 2 for 3 while also playing stellar defense behind the plate. Kazuhiko Yamada closed out the game for the Pretenders and secured their 18th Championship title in Norway... Congratulations to the Oslo Pretenders!