2009 Holland Series
The 2009 Holland Series matched two teams that had not played in the Series in 2008. Neptunus, the top team from the early part of the decade, had posted the best record in the 2009 Hoofdklasse at 32-9-1, then won three straight in the playoffs. The Pioniers had finished third in the regular season at 27-13-2 and topped 2008 Holland Series champion Amsterdam 3 games to 1 in the playoffs.
DOOR Neptunus was managed by Steve Janssen. They had a strong offense led by 1B Jeffrey Arends (.353/.420/.462, a league-best 48 RBI), LF Eugène Kingsale (.364/.489/.523, a league-high 37 runs) and 3B Raily Legito (.363/.438/.500). THe staff was even better, with a composite 1.96 ERA. Key hurlers were Diegomar Markwell (10-2, 1.82), Kevin Heijstek (10-2, 2.13), Dushan Ruzic (7-2, 6 Sv, 1.05) and Berry van Driel (3-0, 4 Sv, 1.23).
Konica Minolta Pioniers
THe Pioniers were managed by Frank Koene. They scored 3 more runs in the regular season than Neptunus despite fewer standouts though their pitching was not as good. They did have the league's most dominant hurler, 2008 Series MVP Ryan Murphy (10-2, a league-high 0.89 ERA, a league-leading 104 strikeouts in 110 2/3 IP). Jan Řeháček (3-1, Sv, 1.48) had been the team's top reliever but left late in the year to join the Houston Astros. Offensive leaders included C Mark Duursma (.307/.451/.367, a league-high 40 walks), CF-LF Glenn Romney (.278/.493/.392, the league leader in OBP) and CF-LF Jefferson Muzo (.272/.343/.280, the leader with 23 steals).
Game 1 in Familiestadion
|Win: Markwell (1-0) Loss: Gnade (0-1)|
Former AA hurler Diegomar Markwell, a longtime Dutch national team member, had no problems with the Pioniers bat, holding them to four hits in seven shutout innings. The Neptunus offense put the mercy rule into play with a 5-run 12th. They got all they needed in the first when Benjamin Dille tripled with one out and came home on a 2-out single by longtime AAA player Sharnol Adriana.
In the 4th, 2008 Olympian Jeroen Sluijter doubled home two for insurance. The game got out of reach in the fifth when three wild pitchers and bad defense, along with fine offense by Neptunus, cost the Pioniers any shot in an embarassing Series opener.
Game 2 in Toolenburg
|Win: Kops (1-0) Loss: Ruzic (0-1) Save: Mulder (1)|
The Pioniers again got outhit and outfielded, but Neptunus stranded 13 runners, repeatedly blowing scoring opportunities to give the game to their opponents.
In the first, speedy LF Jefferson Muzo opened with a triple off former minor leaguer Dushan Ruzic. C Mark Duursma, the 2008 Hoofdklasse batting champion, ground him home. Neptunus came back in the third against Roger Kops with two runs, but Kops escaped a bases-loaded jam to end the frame.
Still down 2-1 in the 6th against Ruzic, the Pioniers rallied against the Australian hurler (normally used as a reliever in 2009). They got the bases loaded, then 3B Mervin Gario drew a game-tying walk to score Muzo again. A tiring Ruzic plunked RF Bart Sabel to bring home Duursma and Neptunus fell behind 3-2. Duursma singled in Muzo in the 7th for a 4-2 lead, the final score.
Game 3 in Familiestadion
|Win: Heijstek (1-0) Loss: Murphy (0-1)|
The Pioniers finally went to the top pitcher of 2009 in the Netherlands (and the 2008 Holland Series MVP), Ryan Murphy, but he proved unable to stop Neptunus. 2B Benjamin Dille and 3B Raily Legito hit back-to-back first-inning singles and an error by Murphy scored Dille. DH Sharnol Adriana then ground home Dille for a 2-0 lead.
After being baffled by Kevin Heijstek for five innings, the Pioniers closed it up in the 6th. 2B Norbert Lokhorst drew a leadoff walk then C Mark Duursma hit into a force-out. CF Glenn Romney walked. Murphy flew out, but 3B Mervin Gario singled in Duursma. RF Bart Sabel reached on an error by 1B Jeffrey Arends, scoring Romney. 1B Jeffrey de Vrieze singled to close the gap to one.
Murphy's woes continued in the bottom of the sixth. Arends singled with one out, then Koster fanned. Meeuwis walked and Sluijter singled. Daantji came through with a two-rout single to make it 6-3. In the 7th, a walk by reliever Jurjen van Zijl, a wild pitch by the same and a hit batsmen by van Zijl put the Pioniers back within two.
Neptunus closed the scoring in the 7th. Murphy walked Dille and Legito singled. Adriana doubled in Dille for a 7-4 score. Maarten Mulder relieved and retired Arends, but then gave up a sacrifice fly to make it 8-4, the final margin of victory for Neptunus, which moved within a game of the title.
|Win: van Acker (1-0) Loss: Mulder (0-1) Save: Ruzic (1)|
Neptunus got ahead quickly against Roger Kops. With one out in the first, 2B Benjamin Dille singled and 3B Raily Legito singled him to third. DH Sharnol Adriana hit into a run-scoring force for a 1-0 lead. In the third, Pioniers RF and #9 hitter Bart Sabel homered off former Olympic hurler Diegomar Markwell to tie the contest.
The Pioniers took the lead in the 4th. C Mark Duursma singled and stole second. With two out, 2B Norbert Lokhorst singled him in. Neptunus tied it in the top of the fifth when LF Eugène Kingsale singled with two outs and was doubled home by Dille.
The tie was short-lived. In the bottom of the 5th, Markwell walked Sabel and LF Jefferson Muzo singled. SS Mike Duursma grounded the runners over and his brother Mark cracked a 2-run double. CF Glenn Romney walked. After a fly-out by 1B Ryan Murphy, Lokhorst walked to load the bases. The rally ended when Markwell struck out 3B Mervin Gario.
The lead held until the 8th. Backup LF Lennart Koster reached on a two-base error by Sabel. Dille singled him to third, then Maarten Mulder plunked Legito. Adriana came through with a game-tying 2-run single. Legito was caught stealing third for the first out. 1B Jeffrey Arends doubled to put men on second and third. Dutch national team reliever Robin van Doornspeek relieved the struggling Mulder. RF Matt McGraw delivered a sacrifice fly for the game's final run, putting Neptunus ahead 5-4.
Both Mark Duursma and Dille had 3 hits on the day.