Kotlářka Praha to face Draci Brno again in baseball finals
Prague team hopes to retain title while Brno seeks its 20th win since 1995
The Extraliga baseball final will see the same match up for the fourth time in a row: Kotlářka Praha versus Draci Brno. The two teams will meet in a best-of-five series and the first two games of the finals will be Aug. 13 and 14 at Kotlářka's home stadium, Markéta. Then the teams will meet in Brno on Aug. 19 and if necessary on Aug. 20, and then be back in Prague on Aug 21.
Both teams went into the playoffs with season scores of 27 wins and eight losses. In the semifinals this year, Kotlářka beat the Eagles Praha, but it took four games. The Eagles won the first game with 10 runs to Kotlářka's 3, but then Kotlářka rallied to win the next three games 7:6, 13:2 and 10:4. Draci defeated the Arrows Ostrava in three straight games — 6:2, 8:2 and 6:5.
“Kotlárka and Draci have faced off in the finals for the past three years. We won our first title last year. Draci looks to win its 20th championship. It has become a strong rivalry between Prague and Brno,” Kotlárka manager Kris Richards said.
Kotlářka won the finals in 2015 in a tournament that took all five games to decide. Kotlářka won the first game over Draci, but lost the next two before coming back to win the final two.
It was no small accomplishment for Kotlářka to overcome Draci for the title. The Brno powerhouse had won the title every year since 1995, save for 2011 when crosstown rivals Technika Brno won.
The teams have their differences, one being that Kotlárka is a much newer team. Kotlářka has had a senior men's team only since 2008, but has roots in youth teams going back to 1982. Draci has a history going back to 1972.
“My team is known for hitting and Draci is known for pitching. Draci has older, experienced players and Kotlářka has young athletic talent,” Richards said.
He is hopeful that Kotlářka will defend its title, but he expects a tough series. “I hope it goes three games in our favor, but I think it has the chance to go five games. It will come down to the team that pitches and does the fundamentals,” Richards said.
The small details matter. “Championship playoff baseball comes down to which team executes the little things the most. I think we are in a good position to repeat,” Richards added.
While baseball is a top sport in North America, with the annual World Series being one of the most-watched events on TV, it is struggling to get mass appeal outside of there and a few other isolated places like Latin America and Japan.
The game was in the Olympics unofficially starting in 1904, but has not been played consistently. It was an official sport from 1992 to 2008, but it was not in the London Games in 2012 and will not be in the current Rio Games. It will return in 2020 when Tokyo hosts the Games.
The Czech Republic so far has not entered a team in any of the Olympics. Czech national team came in fourth place in the 2014 European Baseball Championship.
Draci Brno www.draci.cz
Kotlářka Praha www.kotlarka.com
Baseball Czech www.baseball.cz
Foto: Martin Salajka www.fotosalajka.com
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