2017 High School Trip - Daily Reports

Condensed Daily Reports are listed below.

Days 1 and 2

After gathering the team at JFK yesterday (with only one player on a separate flight), the 2017 OWB trip began with a smooth Delta flight to Zurich that landed in warm sunshine an hour ahead of schedule. We waited a bit at Zurich airport for our coach bus to catch up to us and then went directly to practice at the Heerenschurli facility just outside of the city. The facility accurately reflects typical European sporting priorities in that it consists of approximately 15 soccer fields and 1 baseball field. The sole baseball field is being prepped for an international tournament next week, so we were limited to the use of a batting cage and a side soccer field. Given the high temperature, however, that was more than enough to break a serious sweat and get in our necessary work. Following practice, we bussed in to central Zurich for lunch at a burrito/burger restaurant that is part of the Holy Cow chain - a chain partially owned by Ian Young, a key member of the Great Britain National Team under Coach Pags as well as a former teammate of Coach Dizzy in the German Major league (i.e., the Bundesliga). Before departing Zurich for the day, we walked the team along the Limmat River to a local "beach" (no sand) for some down time, and about half the team, plus a coach, took advantage of the opportunity to take a dip in the cool and incredibly clear water. The other half of the team looked on with a mixture of jealousy and disbelief.

At this point, coming off an overnight flight, it was already a full day, but still to come were a jet-lagged bus ride to Konstanz with a border stop (thus visiting our second foreign country of the day - Germany), hotel check-in, uniform/swag distribution, a traditional German dinner at the Rhein River-side Konstanzer Wirtshaus, and finally a little independent stroll into the Konstanz city center. At the seemingly ungodly hour of 930, it was lights out for the team, with the staff just a few minutes behind...

On the schedule for tomorrow: a Zurich city center bike tour, lunch at a fondue restaurant and game 1 against the Swiss National Team. Weather-permitting, half of our pitchers will pitch in Game 1 and the other half will pitch in Game 2.

Day 3

Following a typical German breakfast at our Konstanz hotel, we spent the entire day in Zurich. It was another sunny day until shortly before our scheduled game time, when the skies opened up. The rain (and hail!) lasted just long enough to force a postponement of our game, so we are now scheduled to play a doubleheader against the Swiss at 11am tomorrow.

This is not to say, however, that the day was lost. Today's events included a 2.5 hour bike tour through central Zurich and along the Lake Zurich waterfront, with a former member of Zurich's canton parliament as the guide, a cheese fondue lunch at Swiss Chuchi restaurant, some independent exploration time in Zurich, great college baseball preparation advice from Coaches Cronk and Exeter and a good pre-game workout.

We are now back in Konstanz for another good night of sleep (it seems like everyone's jet lag is already gone) before tomorrow's early doubleheader.

Day 4

Following the rain and lightning of the evening before, Saturday reverted to the warmth and sunshine we experienced the previous days in Switzerland. We drove 90 minutes to Huenenberg, a village south of Zurich, for two games versus the Swiss men’s team. The setting was beautiful, with farmland on three sides of the field and a school in center field (with Mount Pilatus of the Alps in the skyline beyond).

Game One

16 Old World Baseball

18 Switzerland

OWB and the Swiss traded runs and walks in droves, with our boys taking a 9-4 lead, the Swiss scoring 14 unanswered to lead 18-9 before OWB scored 7 in the 9th to bring the tying run to the plate before the rally ended. Garrett Melby had four hits, including two doubles. Drew Bartholow had two hits and two walks, while seven other players had a hit. Owen Webb, Sam Wurth, Bryce Kramer, Jaren Zinn, & Evan Stewart each pitched one or two innings in this 4-hour affair, and Paul Ravelli pitched the final inning, allowing only one hit and striking out two without allowing any runs.

Between games, the organizers barbequed steaks for us directly from the Zurich stockyard butcher.

Game Two

12 Old World Baseball

2 Switzerland

OWB avenged the long game and loss quickly, showing great resilience by scoring 7 runs in the top of the first inning. Garrett Melby added three more hits and reached on an error in his other at bat. Drew Bartholow and Alex Mumme had two hits each, with Bartholow also contributing an over-the-shoulder catch in center field. Adam Neuburger had a hit and made a sliding catch behind home plate. Alex Bailey, Jake Singer, and Jared Zinn got hits. Matthew Lawlor, Andrew Polk, Matt Rapp, and Benjamin Rosengard combined on a 3-hitter in the 7 inning game.

Our time in Switzerland concluded with the drive from the field back across the German border. The boys will have a little time tonight to explore Constance and enjoy the views of the Rhine River and Bodensee while finding their evening meal.

Tomorrow (Sunday) we leave for Munich, with planned stops at Neuschwanstein Castle and the Andechs Monastery. Our next game is Monday evening in Munich against the Germany U18 national team.

Day 5

We left Konstanz early this morning to ensure that the team would have a chance to see Neuschwanstein before the expected thundershowers, but the rain held off for our full 5-hour visit - the first drops actually started falling at the moment that our bus started rolling out of town. After ferrying across Lake Constance and driving to Schwangau, the team walked to Neuschwanstein castle, across the Marienbruecke (Maria's Bridge) and up part of the Tegelberg to take in the spectacular views - all the players were instructed that they would be in hot water with their loved ones at home if they failed to take photos (with their own faces included)! At this point, the players were given independent time to keep climbing the mountain, visit the castle, eat lunch, shop for souvenirs and/or cool off in the Alpsee (the clear blue lake just below the castle). The coaching staff took the same opportunity to hike 5+ miles to the top of the Tegelberg, so the old men on the trip are feeling their age.

With the rain falling, we took the bus to the Andechs Monastery for a casual supper. For future reference (for players and parents alike) Andechs is world famous for the beer brewed by the monks who live there.

The long day will soon end at our hotel outside of Munich where the team will have the opportunity to hit the hotel gym before lights out.

Tomorrow, we will visit the Dachau concentration camp and central Munich before playing our first game against the German 18U national team, coached by OWB's own Tom Gillespie.

Day 6

We let the team get a relatively late start today (1030am) to catch up on sleep and/or hit the hotel gym. Suitably rested, the team spent a sobering couple of hours visiting Dachau concentration camp. We strongly believe in the importance of "Never Again", and visiting Dachau was very valuable for everyone on the team.

After leaving Dachau, the team had a very different experience with a visit to central Munich. We walked the players into the Marienplatz, passing through Hofbrauhaus on the way, and the players then had the chance to grab an independent lunch from the dozens of vendors in the Viktualienmarkt and explore for a couple of hours. Some of the players took the opportunity to watch some surfing on the permanent wave on the Eisbach River in the Englischer Garten.

This evening, we played Game 3 of our trip, which was our first against the German 18U national team. It was a 3-2 game through 6 innings, with some excellent defense from Coach Dizzy's young charges keeping things close, but we scored 9 runs in the top of the 7th and the game ended 12-2 in OWB's favor. Andrew Polk and Matt Lawlor combined on a 4-hitter with 0 earned runs and 8Ks, Garrett Melby, Jaren Zinn and Alex Bailey each had multiple RBI games, and Alex Mumme and Ben Rosengard also added hits. Before hitting the sack, we had dinner at the Haar field with our German opponents/hosts.

Tomorrow morning, we will leave Munich for Regensburg, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the Danube River, to spend some time in the city center before playing a doubleheader with the Germans.

Day 7

After a great hotel breakfast, we departed Munich and headed north in Bavaria to Regensburg, a former outpost of the Roman Empire. After greeting Alan Dean, the strength and conditioning coach/athletic trainer that OWB shares with the Great Britain National Team, we explored the old town and the stone bridge across the Danube, with many players sampling sausages that have been grilled on site for nearly 500 years (not the same sausages, presumably).

The team then took the bus 10 minutes along the river to Armin-Wulf-Arena, home of the Regensburg Legionaere and host to the 2009 World Cup and 2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifier. Our 2nd and 3rd games against the Germany team went much as the first, with comfortable wins (10-6 & 15-8).

OWB was led in Game 2 by Garrett Melby’s 3 hits (including a triple). Melby ended the day having had 12 hits in his first 15 at-bats. Alex Bailey added a triple of his own. Sam Wurth pitched 5 innings, allowing 3 hits and just 1 run, along with 6 strikeouts. Bryce Kramer pitched the last 2 innings and struck out the final batter of the game with 2 runners on base.

Game 2 leaders included Drew Bartholow with 3 hits, and Jaren Zinn, Jake Singer and Adam Neuberger with 2 hits each. Owen Webb, Paul Ravelli and Matt Rapp each pitched between 2 and 3 innings in the win, with Rapp slamming the door in the 7th.

The team had a filling pasta and chicken dinner in the clubhouse before heading back to the city and checking into the hotel. The boys then got an hour to see the city center by night beforehand turning in.

Tomorrow is the last game in Germany, and we’ll drive to Prague after the game to begin the last leg of the trip. The 2017 group is a great one, and it is amazing how fast the first week has gone.

Day 8

We are now en route to Prague after ending the Germany leg of the trip with our 5th consecutive victory, and our 4th straight over the German 18U National Team. Today's game, which was played in Regensburg's beautiful stadium, was the closest and most well-played of our games with Germany; the final score was 9-7. Evan Stewart started on the mound and went 5 strong innings before tiring a bit in the 6th, and 2-way players Jaren Zinn and Ben Rosengard then each pitched 1+ innings to finish up. These 3 pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts against a solid-hitting German team. Offensively, Alex Mumme had his best results of the trip with 3 hits, including a long dinger. Zinn and Jake Singer had multiple hit games as well, and Rosengard, Drew Bartholow, Darren Bates, Thomas Gardner and Adam Neuburger also had hits. Gardner was hit by his fifth pitch in 6 games, each time following the HBP with a big smile and a sprint to first base! Neuburger added a key defensive play when he threw out the go-ahead run trying to steal second base in the 7th inning of a then-tied game.

Prior to the game, about half the team worked out with Alan Dean (our S&C coach) in the stadium workout facility, and the other half of the team did some extra sightseeing and grocery shopping in the old town of Regensburg, where our hotel was located. Once the entire team was at the stadium, OWB and the German team conducted joint pre-game batting and fielding stations, which gave the teams the opportunity to interact and learn from each other.

After arrival in Prague tonight, if the weather cooperates, we will walk the team to the Charles Bridge for a night view of both the bridge and Prague Castle (perhaps finding a snack along the way).

On the agenda for tomorrow: a walking tour of old town Prague, a traditional Czech meal and Game 7 of the trip.

Day 9

After a brief taste of Prague the night before on arrival, we started Thursday with a guided walking tour of central Prague. Our group learned some history, got some side stories, and heard some well-worn jokes. After seeing Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square and the Jewish Quarter, it was off to lunch for some traditional Czech meat and dumplings.

The boys had a couple of hours to further explore on their own before bussing to the home of the Prague Eagles for a 630 pm game against the Czech U23 National Team. Old World Baseball extended our winning streak against this strong opponent, prevailing 10-5. The team has now scored an incredible 84 runs in 7 games. Billy Russo hit a home run, Alex Mumme had a pair of doubles and Garrett Melby bounced back from a beaning with 3 legs of a cycle (lacking only the HR). Matthew Lawlor pitched 5 strong innings, and he was relieved by our “ringer” – 2013 OWB alum and 2017 Ursinus graduate Austin Kurey, who is playing this summer in Kiel, Germany as a result of his OWB connections. With some tired arms happy to have another day to recover, Kurey pitched the last 4 innings to close out the victory.

Tomorrow the boys can see more of Prague before a late morning workout at a local YMCA and a 3pm game versus the Czech U18 team. We’ll stop at Petrin Tower and Prague Castle after the game.

Day 10

Friday was one of the rare days of the trip when the boys had the opportunity to sleep in a little. A few went to the local YMCA with Alan Dean for a workout, while many others trekked up the hill to Prague Castle. Some napped and others further explored the Old Town. All found their own lunch with their meal stipend, navigating the menu, the language, and finding their way back to the hotel/bus in time for our short drive to the afternoon game.

With a couple factors working against us for tomorrow's planned games - namely, a change in the Czech league schedule leading to unexpected conflicts for many of the national team players, and also a strong chance of rain - we agreed to play a doubleheader today instead. Game 1 was our second defeat of the trip. Garrett Melby delivered a homer on his way to hitting for the cycle across the two games, but we hit a lot of balls hard right at defenders and finished behind 4-3. Bryce Kramer threw 4 strong innings in his best outing of the trip, and Andrew Polk and Matt Rapp also pitched. In the second game, we got ahead early and extended the lead with home runs by Billy Russo and a birthday bomb by Drew Bartholow. Matt Rapp, Andrew Polk, Owen Webb, Sam Wurth, and Paul Ravelli each pitched an inning in the 10-1 win. OWB's offense scored under 10 runs only twice on the trip and ended up with 98 runs in 9 games.

We finished the game schedule with 7 wins and 2 losses.

Postgame, we returned to the hotel for a quick shower before taking the funicular to Petrin Tower, a Eiffel-replica with amazing views over the city and beyond. We then walked the group to Prague Castle before allowing all to then find a meal of their choosing along the way back to our hotel.

With the change in itinerary, we now have a free tourism day on our final full day in Europe. We plan to visit Kutna Hora in the morning - it is a medieval Bohemian city less than 90 minutes away. We'll finish the trip tomorrow night with a group meal, followed by packing and a good sleep.

Day 11

We spent our last full day in Europe with a several hour visit to spectacular Kutna Hora, a UNESCO world heritage site, where the boys visited a few churches and the historic medieval city center. Among the highlights were Sedlec ossuary and the picturesque St. Barbara's cathedral (see attached photos). After driving back to Prague, we spent a wet afternoon/early evening back in the Prague city center restoring our collective appetites for our team dinner. Per OWB tradition for last team meals in Prague, we enjoyed a Czech meat feast (i.e., an all-you-can-eat Brazilian rodizio dinner ). As you might imagine, enough calories were consumed that the restaurant may not have been profitable tonight. Before lights-out, back at the hotel, the boys had a final chance to hang out together.

We depart for the airport at 10am tomorrow, and we will send out a brief update email when we have boarded our flight. Upon landing at JFK, the 2017 OWB trip will officially (and sadly) be over!

While we will not be sending out an update tomorrow, this is not the last communication you will receive from OWB. We will send out a trip wrap-up email this week, which will include our thoughts about this special team and about our fellow staff, as well as additional photos.