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Cardinals head to Attnang, Austria to represent Switzerland in the Euro Cup Qualifier tournament; June 15-21

John Baum 11.06.2009
The Bern Cardinals, currently sitting atop the standings in the Swiss NLA, will take part in their fifth consecutive Euro Cup Qualiifier next week in Attnang, Austria. Last seasons surprise win at the qualifier in Brno, Czech Republic; and the finals appearance the year before, has thrust the Cards onto the European baseball radar. If the Cards are to repeat the success of last season, they will have to find a way to beat last years final opponent, Kransjki Lisjacki(Slovenia); Zagreb (Croatia), Mosquito Athletics (Austria), Blagoevgrad Buffaloes (Bulgaria), and the Greek champions.

The teams to beat are going to be Slovenia, Austria, and Croatia. Having played all these teams, two last year (Slovenia and Croatia), and Austria in 2005, we have experience against them all, and know just how good they are. I dont expect too much differance between this and last year for the Slovenians and Croatians, but the Austrians appear to have made big strides in making themselves a formiddable ball club. If we are to stand any chance, we are going to have to play at our best against these teams, and hope to beat at least two of them.

The Bulgarian and Greek teams I'm not so familiar with. I competed against Greece three years ago in Antwerp, Belgium; and although they played well, they were not up to the quality of the rest of the teams at that tournament. The Bulgarian club hosted one of the qualifiers last year, and finished a respectable fourth place. I believe if you want to look past the Bulgarians you may find yourself on the losing end. As we open up with them on Monday, I have to be sure not to look past them, in hopes of getting off to a good start. If history repeats itself, the Greeks are going to have a tough time against the great competition that these tournaments bring.

It is going to be a difficult tournament for us, as our number one pitcher, Chris Beyeler, will not be attending. We are going to have to find a way to get through the week with only three arms who have pitched at the highest level here. Offensively we are going to be missing two of our starters in the field, as Rudy Vargas, and Alex Cruz Tifa are our 4th and 5th players who don't hold a Swiss passport. The addition of Raphael Hanzi and Angelo Rodriguez will help offset our missing two starters.

We are going to Austria with high expectations, but also know how big of a challenge these tournaments are when your gun is loaded with all its' bullets. Our goal is as always to represent the country and club well, and play with desire and passion. We will need to find a little extra of these things to help us if we are to once again raise the trophy at the end.
Check out the schedule on: http://competition.baseballeurope.com/2009/puchheim/schedule.php