For the Unicorns’ NLB team, playoff qualification was at stake before the second to last weekend of the NLB group stage. In order to have any chance at making the playoffs, the Unicorns had to win both games against the 1st place Sissach Frogs on Sunday. With a strong starting line-up, the team held the Frogs scoreless in the top of first inning and then turned on the offense in the bottom of the inning. Marvin Mueller got things started with a walk. Franklin Chavez singled and Bilmanio Castillo drove them in with single. Steven Murphey drove in Bilmanio one batter later. Andreas Gamma singled, Benny Raeber walked, and Shaen Bernhardt walked to drive in the 4th run of the inning. After one, the Unicorns had a 4-0 lead and the match in their hands. Thanks to strong pitching by Kieran Brot and a solid defensive performance, the team kept the pressure on the Frogs. The offense continued to fire on all cylinders. Of particular note were the back-to-back triples by Bilmanio Castillo and Ruffelin Pineda to take a 7-0 lead in the second inning. Sissach kept attacking and managed to score three runs in the 5th and threatened with the bases loaded in the 6th. Andreas Gamma came in to close and ended the threat with two fly outs. In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Unicorns added some insurance with three more runs. Andreas did not allow another run and finished off the save. The Hünenberg Unicorns won the first game 12-6.
The Unicorns opened the second game with another 3-0 lead. Ruffelin Pineda did the damage with his third home run of the season. Pineda recalled his performance as follows: “Actually, I just aim to hit the ball as hard as possible. The fact that I was able to hit the ball so far was extremely important for the team at this moment. I’m happy that we still have a chance at the playoffs.” Unfortunately, the Unicorns defense couldn’t maintain the lead and the Frogs struck back with five runs in the second. But again, the Hünenberg offense wouldn’t stop. Kieran led off the bottom of the second with a triple and was driven in by Benny. The Unicorns scored five runs to take a 8-5 lead after two innings. The two teams scored more runs and an exciting duel ensued. Michael Bini, who pitched into the fifth inning, held Sissach to eight runs (only five earned) before handing the ball over to Franklin. Franklin struck out eight and defended the Unicorns’ lead for the last three innings. The Unicorns won the second game with a final score of 15-9. Benny Räber, who made his comeback for the Unicorns on Saturday after a two-year absence, said: “These were two important and well-deserved wins, as they preserved the Unicorns’ chances of reaching the play-offs. Our defense was very solid, although not always flawless. Nevertheless, we managed to keep the Frogs in check with important double plays in the key moments of the first and second games. The fact that we were able to take the lead early on gave the team the necessary support and our pitcher could do their job. Now it’s time to keep the momentum and get the playoff ticket.”
With a total of eight wins and six losses, the Hünenberg Unicorns are now in playoff range. However, in order to make their definitive entry into the playoffs, the Unicorns must win their last two matches against the Flyers on 16 August 2020 in Therwil.[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”290″ gal_title=”Baseball 2020: UNI vs. FRO II”]