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Kaunas Lituanica reclaims the title of Lithuanian Champions 2009 09 26
After one year of being known as '3rd place finishers' in the Lithuanian Championship, Kaunas regains the title of Lithuanian Champions defeating the Black Vikings of Vilnius in 3 tightly contested matchups, winning the series 3-0. In all three matches there were several lead changes, and the result was decided in the final inning. The final two matches were decided in extra innings, with the final game going 10 innings with Kaunas Lituanica winning 10-7.
Vilnius Vikings surprised Kaunas a bit with their pitching rotation, starting R. Santaras; Kaunas jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on W. Gordon's 2-run scoring double down the left field line, followed up by an RBI single by S. Benkec. Vikings quickly scored 2 runs in the following half inning, bring the score to 3-2. In an interesting twist, Vikings changed pitchers in the second inning bringing in E. Zarkaitis, a left-hander. Zarkaitis blanked Kaunas hitters, but was immediately replaced by R. Santaras (who was still in the field) the following inning. Zarkaitis and Santaras shared pitching duties the rest of the way, changing every inning. Together they were able to keep Kaunas hitters off-balance, but were unable to control the zone, giving up 8 walks and 2 HP's over 9 innings collectively.
Kaunas' Marijus Dargis had another strong 9-inning performance, giving up 5 earned runs with 8 K's, but key errors by both infield and outfield led to the Vilnius Vikings tying the game in the 9th and sending it into extra innings. Dargis registered his 6th win of the season with the win.
Kaunas' attack was led by M. Cernauskas (3-5, RBI, 3 R), M. Dargis (2-4, R, RBI), and W. Gordon (2-6, 2 R, 3 RBI). Vilnius Vikings' offense was paced by G. Kuprevicius (2-4, RBI, 3 R) and Ramunas Santaras (2-4, 3 RBI).
This is the 10th Lithuanian Championship in Kaunas Club history. The only player who has been a member of all 10 championships since 1988 is Arturas 'Draugas' Eimutis, long-time veteran and pitcher.
Kaunas is now tied with the Black Vikings of Vilnius who also have 10 Lithuanian Championships. Also winners of the Championship is Vilnius "Klevo" Baseball Club, which is no longer in existence. The Championship was also played in 1922 before the 1st World War, at which point only two teams, one from Vilnius and one from Kaunas, took part.
The 2009 Lithuanian Baseball Season ends this coming weekend in Utena, Lithuania, October 3-4, with the Interleague (Brest/Latvia/Lithuania) Semifinal and Final games. Of the four teams remaining in interleague play, 3 of them are from Lithuania (Vilnius Black Vikings, Utena Vetra, and Kaunas Lituanica).
Will Gordon Director, Foreign Affairs/Game Development Lithuanian Baseball Association
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