The 2015 Edition of the International Stars set out to make it a 3-peat at the Prague Baseball Week.
A 32-man roster from 10 different countries, from all different leagues across Europe, and most of them having never played together – made things challenging for first time Head Coach Ty Eriksen (Haar Disciples – Germany) with Assistants Petr Novotny (Hrosi Brno – Czech) and David Burns (Attnang-Pucheim Athletics – Austria). The Czech National Team was stronger than ever and looking to avenge back-to-back losses in the championship at the hands of the Stars.
In Game 1 vs. Great Britain the Stars cruised to a 14-0 victory behind stand-out hitting performances by returning Stars – Jack Shannon and Lucas Hagberg, previously teammates in 2014 with Czech league team Olomouc, they were now teammates in the Swiss league with the Therwil Flyers.
Hagberg went 2-3 with a HR and 3 runs scored while Shannon went 2-2 with 2 BB, a 3B, and 4 RBI. Newcomer Melvin Perdue (USA) playing in Austria for the Attnang-Pucheim Athletics went 4-4 with 2 SB. Now a normal routine with the Stars in the first few games of the tournament, 5 different pitchers combined for the shutout, allowing just 2 hits.
Game 2 saw the Stars cruise to a 12-1 win vs. the Czech U-18 National Team (who had knocked them off in the first game of the 2013 tournament). 4 different pitchers combined to give up just 1 earned run vs. the Czech juniors with newcomer Brent Buffa (USA), the first player from the Italian league to play for the Stars getting the win. Returning Stars Alex Lee (USA) now playing for Ostrava Arrows in the Czech league and Kevin Faries (Curacao) with the Cologne Cardinals in Germany paced the Stars at the plate. Lee went 4-4 with 3 runs and a SB, Faries went 2-3 with 4 RBI. Polish national team catcher, Przemyslaw Paluch, who caught the 2014 championship game, went 3-4 at the plate with 3 RBI and 2 runs.
After a few nights in Prague under their belts, getting accustomed to the incredibly cheap beer, beautiful sites, and great night life – that can spell trouble for a group of foreign baseball players, the Stars came out sluggish in Game 3 against the German U-18 National Team. It took a strong team effort, with 19 different batters coming to the plate and 9 of those guys recording hits, but the Stars were able to pull out a 9-6 victory. Scotty Mulhearn (Australia) who had been hurt in 2014, now playing for the local Tempo Titans, led the way by going 2-3 with a run, RBI, and 2 SB. Joe Wittig (USA) who was with the team just a month earlier at the Finkstonball Tournament in Austria went 3-3 and Jaroslav Sitar, the youngest member of the team from Slovakia went 1-2 with a BB and 2 big runs scored. RHP Marshall Crawford (USA), playing in front of his hometown Prague Eagles fans threw 4 innings of 1 run ball to lead the pitchers through some feisty German junior hitters. Jordan Moore-Liester (USA) of the Chartres French Cubs in the French league, worked 2 and 2/3 for the win.
Starting 3-0 was something the Stars have had yet to do at the PBW. But that was about to change in going up against the Czech National Team since beating them in the 2014 championship game.
“Lucas Hagberg and Alex Lee had two hits apiece but the Stars were unable to string together enough hits as they fell 3-1 in a pitchers duel. The Czechs sent a message that this three-peat was not going to be an easy one, something we already knew.”
On the final day of PBW 2015 the Stars had one more team to get through before a rematch in the championship with the Czech National Team. Playing against a team called Planet Baseball made up of high school kids from the U.S., the Stars cruised to an easy 11-2 in the morning. Super-Utility lefty pitcher and outfielder Jack Shannon (Therwil Flyers – Switzerland) threw 5 strong innings on the mound before giving away to relief pitchers. Jake Rabinowitz (Tempo Titans – Czech), Michael Stowers (Prague Eagles – Czech), Brandon Marshall (Cologne Cardinals – Germany) and Adam Greenberg (Lucerne Eagles – Switzerland) each had two hits a piece.
In the highly anticipated championship game rematch, the Stars jumped out to an early 4-1 lead behind excellent pitching from Aussie Wil Lee (Bonn Capitals – Germany), who had returned to the Czech grounds after playing for Czech powerhouse Draci Brno in 2014. On a strict pitch count from his home team in Germany, Wil went 6 2/3 innings with 13 strikeouts to only 4 hits and 2 earned runs. He left with a 4-3 lead. The Czechs kept pressing with some small ball and shortened the lead before taking it over for good on two controversial calls, one of which was when catcher Przemyslaw Paluch clearly tags out the Czech runner who was called safe.
The International Stars finished the 2015 Prague Baseball Week in 2nd Place, after a close championship game in which the Czech National Team rallied in the 8th inning to take a 6-4 lead.
Wilson Lee (Bonn Capitals) was awarded Best Pitcher, striking out 16 batters in 7.2 innings.
Melvin Purdue (Attnang Athletics) was awarded Best Hitter after hitting 8-12 with 2 2Bs, 4 Rs, and 5 RBIs.
Additional standout contributions to the team:
Jack Shannon (5 IP, 0 R, 6 K; batting 5-10, 5 RBI)
Alex Lee (9-14, 2 2B, 3 SB, 6 R)
Lucas Hagberg (6-12, 3 R, 3 RBI, 1 HR)
Przemislaw Paluch (5-10 2 R, 3 RBI)
Joe Wittig (9 batters faced, 5 K)
Troy Weinart (3-7, 2 2B)
Assistant Coach and founder of the International Baseball Community, David Burns, put together a 15 minute recap of the 2015 Prague Baseball Week from the International Stars vantage point that can be seen here: