Choosing Lars Hoeger (29), the best bowler in Dutch baseball, to play for HCAW, rather than the traditional big clubs Amsterdam or Rotterdam, makes amazing sense. “In HCAW I play twice as many matches against the two biggest teams,” says friendly Huijer. “So I still challenge myself in terms of resistance.”
Huijer has had a dominant season in the Dutch top flight. For example, he scored the most rounds of any player in the league (128), scored the most hits (128), allowed the lowest hit rate (0.158) and had the most wins (11). In short, it should come as no surprise that Huijer was named the competition’s top bowler for the third time in four seasons last week.
“Our identity as a team is strong play and strong defense,” said coach Danny Rumbley. “We don’t have a group of good hitters like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, so we have to rely mainly on a tight defense collectively.”
As a regular player for the Dutch national baseball team, Huijer is the only player in Bussum’s selection to earn Olympic status. In other words, the bowler is the only full-time professional in HCAW. For example, the other dominant bowler in Dutch baseball, Dennis Burgersdijk (34), also plays for the Bossum baseball team, but he also works as a gym teacher during the week.
“For most of the boys who have come back to the Netherlands from the American minor leagues to play baseball, it goes without saying that the choice lies with Amsterdam or Rotterdam,” says Burgersdijk. This is why we focus primarily on team spirit. At HCAW, you really have to feel a part of a bigger whole. “We’re really an underdog compared to the two big clubs, and we’re embracing that situation as well,” confirms manager Rumble.
SCW doesn’t live up to the Gooi gym stereotype. The tongue of hockey is not visible, and the number of antilles in the selection is approximately the same as with competitors in the capital.
While the main base is certainly not the size of the Rotterdammers’ Neptunus Familie Stadium, the Bussum Club has a remarkably fanatical following. In the first home game of the Holland Series, there were 1,200 fans in the stands, far too many by baseball standards. In Match 1 and Match 3 in Rotterdam, nearly half of the audience is made up of outside fans.
Where the Rotterdamers have to compete every weekend with nearby Feyenoord, Excelsior and Sparta as a sports outing, Bossum has no professional football club. It has also established a tradition of attracting local football fans in the summer months when SDO Amateur Club does not play matches.
The distinguished Huijer knows how to make HCAW an attractive destination to convince future generations of baseball talent returning from America to come to Bussum. “I try to actively contribute to creating a good and unified atmosphere in the team.”
To enhance the team spirit, Huijer regularly organizes game evenings at his home in Hoofddorp, to which the whole team is invited. “This week I was still playing poker with my teammates Viktor and Max Draiger, and we thought about how far we’ve come as a group of friends.”
Verrevelder Viktor Draijer plays a leading role in match 3. With the homerun to the left, he opens the score in the seventh inning. Aside from this challenging song, it’s basically a tough defensive duel, in which shooters allow very few offensive fireworks. In short, exactly the kind of defensive baseball in which coach Rumble finds his team at their best.
After Huijer and Burgersdijk successfully completed their first two matches, Jim Ploeger became the next HCAW player to prove difficult to play in the final. in Rotterdam left Eight innings without points. Catcher Julian Goins is particularly helpful with this, by throwing a runner hard onto second base twice while attempting to steal. As a result, the score remained 1-0 in the third game of the visitors to Bossum in Rotterdam.
“As a player I’ve come across different types of teams. That’s why I can say this is a very close group, with guys who consider each other friends,” said manager Rumble. This pleasant atmosphere means that everyone is ready to commit to their part. Margins of error are small with us, so every player needs to know their exact limits.
Huijer could top his season by claiming a decisive fourth HCAW win next Saturday. Championship will show above all the strength of all. Together they can be more than the sum of their parts. I’m already very proud of the way we grew up together, but such a reward would of course be great.
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