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2

The Zebras

The Zwangzug national baseball team has participated in all but the third editions of the World Baseball Classic, and won the seventh and twenty-first tournaments. Zwangzug has also sent baseball teams to some Olympic Games; in the Third Summer Olympics, the last in which baseball was a medal event, they won gold and bronze medals. The "Zebras", as they are commonly known, tend to emphasize pitching and defense above hitting for power, and generally don't use the designated hitter. Recently, they have done away with bullpens, and drafted only starting pitchers for the national team. Their home stadium is the Worm Hole, located in Spenson. Traditionally, the manager of Zwangzug's most recent championship team is appointed manager of the national team.

History

Zwangzug played its first international baseball game against Elves Security Forces, who won 3-2. After losing to Kampfers, Zwangzug recorded its first win against Lovisa. Lovisa would get their revenge in the last game of the group stage, however, winning in ten innings. Zwangzug and Elves Security forces finished the group stage of World Baseball Classic 1 tied for second place and the group's last playoff spot; the latter advanced on the third tiebreaker (runs scored per nine innings).

While all of Zwangzug's World Baseball Classic teams have included both male and female players, the first team had only two women. During the Second Summer Olympics, therefore, only a men's national baseball team was sent. That team won their first two games but lost the last two, failing to advance from the group stage.

In World Baseball Classic 2, the Zebras improved drastically on their first performance, going undefeated in two rounds of pool play before they were swept by Milchama in the semifinals. Zwangzug hosted the third tournament, but were inadvertently excluded from the signup list and did not participate. A completely new team (the same players had competed in the first two tournaments and would have participated in the third) struggled to rebuild during the fourth edition, going 4-5.

More experienced in the fifth classic, Zwangzug won their group before dropping the first quarterfinal game to Liverpool england. A dramatic fifteenth-inning victory in game two, however, set up a shorter victory in the deciding game. The Zebras similarly, though without extra innings, rallied from a game down in the semifinals against Corneliu to face Milchama in the final. But a walk-off home run from Emily O'Neil gave the Warriors a ten-inning victory.

The next tournament, the Zebras were perfect in two group stages before being swept by Taeshan in the semifinals. They got some revenge on Milchama, however, by sweeping the third-place series.

Despite the intervention of a flying cheese alien to further the Zwangzug-Milchama rivalry, two more undefeated group stages followed for Zwangzug in World Baseball Classic 7. In the first semifinal game, Qazox took a 6-4 lead in the top of the fourteenth. The Zebras rallied, scoring one run and loading the bases with only one out. Klaus Rifkin grounded into a double play, however, to force the Zebras' backs against the wall. Despite winning the second game, they trailed by two in the bottom of the ninth of game three. Rifkin came to the plate with two outs...and was soon to cross it after his three-run homer sent Zwangzug to the final. Facing Newmanistan, Zwangzug won game one before dropping the second game in eleven innings. They won game three, lost game four, but won the fifth game to become world champions.

The Zebras would lose only one game during the eighth Classic's group stage--ironically, it was in Wombat Field, the site of their then-recent championship. Meanwhile, men's and women's teams represented Zwangzug in the Olympics, mixing veterans who had retired from the main team with future national team stars. The women's team had a perfect group stage, while the men dropped only their first game against Jasīʼyūn, prompting pundits worried about their focus to dub them the "Daydream Team". In their last game of the group stage, however, they defeated Adihan to win the group. In the semifinals, the women lost to Secristan, while the men defeated Kanji starter. The women would defeat group stage opponents Maineiacs to take bronze, while the men reaffirmed their status against Newmanistan to win gold. That status didn't last long, though; only days later, Newmanistan won the Classic quarterfinal at home, two games to one.

For the preliminary stages of World Baseball Classic 9, Zwangzug were drawn against fellow top-ten team Secristan--much to the frustration of the latter's sports department, though feelings were tempered after an upset Millionaire victory, 4-1. After nine innings of game two, Zwangzug led 5-2. But both teams had scored six runs in two games, so the game moved to the tenth despite Zwangzug's lead. Eric Beaudoin's two-run homer ended the game with a final score of 5-4, giving Secristan a series win. However, Zwangzug advanced to the group stage as the best loser of the preliminary round. They lost their final game there to Tocrowkia and failed to advance.

The Zebras had an uneventful return to the playoffs in the next Classic, and edged out Cassadaigua in twelve innings to face Green wombat in the quarterfinals. With Zwangzug trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Noah Trecarichi sent an apparent foul ball down the right-field line. New instant replay rules had been adopted for the playoffs, however, and Reynolds (who managed the Zebras for seven tournaments without letting the media in on his first name...though that probably says more about the incompetence of the long string of WTB radiocasters) protested. The ruling was ultimately overturned, and Trecarichi credited with a walk-off, come-from-behind home run. In game two, Reynolds' arguable brilliance would shine again. With Amber Pastis injured during warm-up tosses, Reynolds simply switched her with Chela Palmer, then playing third base. Palmer got out of the inning she was in, and Pastis was the Zebras' starting third baseperson come the next tournament. Zwangzug defeated Green wombat to make the semifinals. In game one against Secristan, the Zebras blew a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning and eventually lost in the eleventh. They led 6-0 in the eighth inning of game two, but momentum changed then; while the Millionaires still lost (6-5), they won the third game. In the third-place series, Zwangzug led 3-0 in the eighth inning of the first game and 4-3 in the fourth inning of the second. They were swept by Tocrowkia.

Zwangzug survived the arrival of a Norwellian housecat in its bullpen and benefited from the "fan interference" of an emperor penguin (it pulled Marvin Stania's foul ball into the bleachers, allowing him to send the next pitch over the outfield fence) to top its World Baseball Classic 11 group. They swept Liventia in the quarterfinals, but were swept by Tocrowkia in the next round. After losing the first game of the third-place series to Qazox, the Zebras won game two in eleven innings and game three in nine.

Zwangzug began World Baseball Classic 12 with a loss to Yafor 2, but won the rest of their group stage games. Facing Dancougar in the first round, the matchup between switch-hitting Anastasia Alperin and switch-pitching Sarah Propeado ended with Propeado pitching from the left and Alperin hitting from the right--but she singled in the first run of the game and the Zebras went on to win. While Greta Orsulak was injured before game two and unable to participate in the game, which Dancougar won, her twelfth-inning home run in game three, off backup outfielder Ann Ahn, sent Zwangzug through to face Tocrowkia once more. The Zebras beat the Nordics for the first time in game one, but lost game two after Johnny Stryker stole home in the ninth. It would be Zwangzug that won game three, though, and swept the Firebugs to make the final. In a rematch against Newmanistan, the Zebras lost game one but won game two in thirteen innings. However, they'd lose the next two games as the Rockets got revenge for their WBC7 defeat.

The thirteenth World Baseball Classic's group stage would proceed much the same as the twelfth's for Zwangzug; they lost their first game to eventual group champions Sarzonia, but were perfect the rest of the way. The playoffs were quite another story, however. Facing Secristan in the round of sixteen, the Zebras fell behind in Game 1 and stayed behind thanks to a leadoff error in the seventh. Though they pulled within one in the ninth inning, the comeback was not enough. Game 2, similarly, saw Zwangzug rally to trail by one with more time to catch up. They were unable to score, however, and made the earliest exit any of the players had been part of.

The Zebras lost both of their encounters with newcomers Jeffgordonville in the group stage of World Baseball Classic 14, but won their remaining games to come second in the group on head-to-head results. They lost their first playoff game 4-3 to Vephrall, but won the next two to advance to the quarterfinals. Zwangzug beat Sarzonia 3-1 in the first game there, but surprise Stars starter Brian Edwards nearly shut the Zebras out in the next game, though they fought back in the bottom of the ninth to merely lose 3-2. Zwangzug took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first in game three, but the lead was gone by the second inning, and Sarzonia ultimately won 6-3.

Zwangzug got off to a slow start in the fifteenth WBC, blowing late leads against Barnettsville and Tarrentum to open the qualifying phase. But they won their remaining eight games to become third seeds, and swept hosts The babbage islands in the Round of 16. Jamie Kersten and pitcher Paul Eckhart combined for three home runs and double-digit strikeouts to defeat Zwangzug's historic opponents in a variety of sports, Quintessence of Dust, to open the quarterfinals, but Quintessence of Dust won 11-3 in game 2. On the hill for the series finale was June "Bob" Bargmavis, the first Zebra to play abroad--as it was, in Quintessence of Dust. Bargmavis didn't get a decision, but the Zebras won to advance. Martin Loomis shut out Sarzonia in game one of the semifinals, and Zwangzug got the sweep in game two. The Zebras lost the first game of the final series, another rematch against Newmanistan, the Zebras blew another lead in game two to put their backs against the wall. They won game three, though, to stay in contention. After a long rain delay, the Rockets scored first in game four, but Jehoshaphat Turner brought the Zebras ahead in the top of the seventh. Natalie Monroe's home run tied the game for Newmanistan in the bottom half, however, and Meghan Butler's sacrifice fly won the game for the Rockets in the eleventh inning.

Despite some bullpen woes, such as surrendering a walk-off grand slam to unheralded City of norfolk, Zwangzug were fine in the group stages of WBC16, including a 7-run inning against Qazox. The final game of the group stage saw the Zebras blow one-run leads in the eighth and ninth to Churchma; the game remained tied until the top of the thirteenth, when Benjamin Mercer was hit by a Byron Wabble pitch to force in Mason Blitch in what proved to be the winning run. Zwangzug defeated Lycrabon in the round of sixteen, and defeated Quintessence of Dust 12-5 to open the quarterfinals, capping a couple late rallies with a Janet Aleplow grand slam in the ninth. In game two, the Zebras led 3-1 in the ninth...and blew the lead again. The Zebras and Things would set a WBC record by playing seventeen innings, with Noodles Ptarmigan driving in Lee Lü to score the winning run off Stephen Kilbourne. (Mercer, who had been out of the lineup since the injury, returned to active play in desperation.) The Things, trailing again in game three, tied it in the seventh and it remained scoreless until inning fourteen, when Mercer's ground-rule double gave the Zebras the lead. In the bottom half, however, Emily Sanderson tied the game for Quintessence of Dust. It took a Meg Hietala single in the fifteenth to give the Zebras a lead they would hold on to; by then, normal starter Martin Loomis had come on in relief to get the win. In the semifinals, Cassadaigua put up seven runs in the sixth to take game 1 12-8, and won game 2 as well. Zwangzug faced the Rockets in the third-place series, losing 1-0 on a walkoff hit in the first game, but scored seven runs in the first inning of game 2 to even the series. Trailing 2-1 in the eighth inning of game three, the Zebras tied the score on an Ida Pratt single and won after a Jonathan Craga RBI in the ninth.


After WBC16, Zebras fans were curious how their extra-inning adventures fit into the team's history.

Zwangzug got off to a good start in WBC17, shutting out Cathatis at the latters' friendly home field and beating Pontinur as well. But they dropped their next two games before defeating Tarrentum, before losing their remaining five by, among other means, a three-run walkoff homer in the eleventh, and an RBI single in the top of the eleventh in the finale against Tarrentum. National sentiment was summarized by the team's mascot, Zwangy the Zebra, scared out of its wits by a local Tarrentian in a lion costume.

Things were slightly better in WBC18, perhaps due to Henry Maddox forsaking the idea of a bullpen entirely and selecting only starting pitchers for the national team. Group stage games featured plenty of batting around, both for and against the Zebras. This included a streak of five consecutive doubles for Zwangzug's batters against Saugeais. Both games with Cabric were memorable; in the first, the Zebras began with eight straight hits while Cabric were hitless until the sixth. In the rematch, Zwangzug blew a lead in the top of the ninth and gave up four runs, only to score four more in the bottom and walk off with a victory. The Zebras returned to the playoffs, but were swept by Lycrabon in the first round.

Motor-mouthed Gina Croes returned to lead the Zebras in WBC19, following Maddox' no-bullpen lead. This worked very well; Zwangzug was the first team to clinch a playoff spot, with Milchama the only team to beat them in the group stages. They swept Mytannion and The Babbage Islands to make the semifinals. In game one against Saugeais, the Zebras survived a non-bullpen bullpen collapse in the ninth by having taken advantage of poor Saugeais pitching in the seventh. They would lose the next two games, however, to wind up in the third-place series. They lost their first game there to Churchma, 12-3, the worst margin of defeat in team history. Nevertheless, they rallied to win the next two games and the series, with the final run scoring when Blitch doubled off Wabble.

WBC20 saw quiet Alicia Brune take over. The Zebras had a successful group stage, and broke the (inexplicably extant) record for "longest delay of game due to presence of actual rather than nicknamed zebras on the field" by more than two minutes in an upset defeat against Miley world, who they would beat in the round of sixteen. They blew out Churchma in the quarterfinals, including an eight-run inning in game one, and looked set to advance to the final after beating Lycrabon in game one and leading by two in the ninth. But a walk-off home run from Cliff Mayo would tie the series, and while the Zebras scored three of their own in the third game's ninth inning, they still lost by two. They would rout Sakurakoku in the third-place playoff, scoring five in the ninth and winning 11-2.

Meanwhile, an all-male team came fourth in the World Games. They batted around against Thatius in a group stage game, but lost the semifinal to Civil Citizenry (who Zwangzug had played in the WBC20 group stage), possibly on the same day as the main team's third game against Lycrabon. Bucking the recent trend, they did indeed use a bullpen.

Toussaint Bonner led Zwangzug in World Baseball Classic 21. In their second game, against Milchama, the Zebras trailed by three in the eighth before a Kelsey Yarowicz homer sparked a six-run inning. After six games, they were second-to-last in their group (admittedly on tiebreakers), but after the ten games completed they'd made it to second place and the playoffs. A switchover in the seedings saw them paired against Saugeais, who they swept. A full three-game series against Lycrabon followed, but the Zebras came out on top to face a rematch against groupmates Darmen. Though they dropped the first game, they'd win the next two to face Sakurakoku again for the championship. The Silver Wolves won game one, on a walk-off homer from Toya Kaneda. But seven shutout innings from Odilon Lievre would pace the Zebras to tie the series the next game, and five runs in the final two innings of game three broke that open to give Zwangzug the lead. In game four, two errors in the top of the first gave the Silver Wolves a two-run lead. The Zebras got one back on the bottom half, and took the lead on an Alexander Hamweigh double in the second, but a Herb Orst-Yossmel walk let Satoshi Takeda tie the game in the fourth and two more singles gave Sakurakoku the lead. In the bottom half, Orst-Yossmel would strike out...and reach when the ball got away from Hideo Uehara. Hamweigh drove him in to tie the game. The next inning, Davi Roshdan-Hone batted in Alexander McKein and scored on a Ariana Juriand single. Kelsey Yarowicz went over the wall to deny Hideki Miura an eighth-inning home run, and the Zebras won their second title.

The Zebras had a perfect group stage in World Baseball Classic 22, led by Alexander Hamweigh's base-reaching, Kelsey Yarowicz' slugging, and Skylar Heppes' bleep-laden management. They lost their first playoff game to Karditan and trailed in the eighth inning of game two, but a hit batter, a walk, and two hits gave Zwangzug the win. They then won the deciding game and beat Cassadaigua to start their quarterfinal series. Cassadaigua would tie the series in game two. Though the Zebras scored two in the bottom of the first in the deciding game, Cassadaigua rallied back and ultimately won 8-5 to advance.

World Baseball Classic 23 would see the Zebras fail to leave the group stage. Manager Harry Wittnebey would have plenty of time, and reason, to pace during the long second game against Vamprican-krumbian confederacy; after both teams only scored one run in nine innings, the Zebras would break out with five in the thirteenth and then give up two in the bottom half but come back to win. There were fears about a return of the feline flu, and also more bullpen implosions, but not literal ones.

Things improved in World Baseball Classic 24. Despite upsets early on, Marjorie Cobara's team would eventually make it out of the group stage and sweep Sakurakoku before being swept by Darmen in the round of sixteen. The travails, illnesses, scorekeeping tendencies, ideological confrontations, and sunflower-seed habits of the incoming pitching class were faithfully chronicled by literary international rookie Gareth Amatchi.

Eileen Janvier, another Logrove Dolphins manager, took charge of the WBC 25 team. The "Silver Anniversary" was celebrated in previews for TV shows that never came to pass, as well as Amatchi's interminable diaries, to say nothing of the erratic newspaper and online coverage. The Zebras got off to a 1-2 start, the second loss featuring Christopher Abbing-Kinton being vaulted over at home plate by Gary Roffeld, before he hit a ground-rule double that caused a blackout for the Zebras' only runs of the game. They then needed to tie Lymantatia in the ninth and beat them in the tenth to get a .500 record. Other morbid details aside, Zwangzug somehow rallied to the joint-best record of the group stage. A five-run third inning let Kinzar take the first game in the round of sixteen, but Zwangzug would blow them out to tie the series and win game three. Similarly, Mae'ao's grand slam gave Maklohi Vai a six-run third to open the quarterfinal, shutting the Zebras out, but they won the next two to advance, with a sixth-inning rally in game three, and they swept host Equestrian States in the quarterfinals, but fell down two games to none in the best of five with Darmen. They led going into the ninth in game three, blew the lead, but Sonia Ross-Meyer pushed in the winning run in the tenth and two more runs followed. Game four would see Abbing-Kinton, for a change, being the one scoring on a close play at the plate with the go-ahead run, though both teams scored in the seventh and ninth. The amazing comeback would fall short in the last game, however, as Darmen won 8-5 to become world champions.

In World Baseball Classic 26, Kyle Polzin led the Zebras through a relatively calm group stage as the Bassabook Baritone reported on "Great Moments in WBC History." After defeating Western cuba and groupmates Allinlia, Zwangzug would blow two semifinal series leads to Sicoutimont, amid the increasing popularity of the RTRapidTransit game. The Zebras, however, swept Ko-oren to take third.

Janvier would be back for World Baseball Classic 27. The top-seeded Zebras were the only perfect team halfway through the group stage, which they finished with a perfect record before dropping their first playoff game to Skeckoa. They'd rally back to tie the series and then win it in the twelfth inning of game three, before blowing a series lead to Milchama in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Hans Bollogle's increasing obsession with Ko-oren's "linking books" eventually overshadowed his brief pitching career.

Fresh off the infamous "zombie series," Eric Scevola led the Zebras in World Baseball Classic 28. The expected bullpen woes showed up in the second half of the qualifiers, and the last day of the group stage saw the Zebras flirt with elimination when Qazox got upset, New wolfopolis pulled off an impressive win, and Zwangzug blew a five-run lead to Patistan, who scored in the bottom of the eleventh...but somehow held on, thanks to aggressive baserunning from Cecilia Kirnan-Groney in the top half of the inning. (Kirnan-Groney's middle school career proved to be its own saga, as gripping if not more so than her extra-inning heroics.) The Zebras won a group stage rematch with Saugeais in the Round of 16, though Saugeais' own win was another impressive bullpen capitulation, before losing to Nova Anglicana in the quarterfinals.

Kimberly Tamievar's short-lived tenure in World Baseball Classic 29 began with a three-game losing streak, prompting historical inquiries about equally-ineffective Zebras teams. (Despite scoring 10 runs in their first game (and five in the bottom of the ninth), the most in several tournaments, Zwangzug would lose the first one to Darmen). Ultimately, a 4-6 finish led to elimination at the group stage--their first under-.500 record since the seventeenth edition.

For World Baseball Classic 30, Hubert Lehrer took over, introducing not only attempts to get the team to cheer noisily but also going back to a five-starter rotation. This panned out dismally, as the Zebras dropped their first three games to finish 1-7. Despite this, left fielder Aja Demacko, first baseman Gyeong Rhee, and starting pitcher Dylan Finch were all somehow named to the Super-Llamaland All-Star team; both position players participated in the game for the winning Llamanean team.


Tournament

Wins

Losses

Finish

World Baseball Classic 1

3

3

group stage

Second Summer Olympics (men)

2

2

group stage

World Baseball Classic 2

12

2

semifinals

World Baseball Classic 4

4

5

group stage

World Baseball Classic 5

7

4

2nd

World Baseball Classic 6

10

2

3rd

World Baseball Classic 7

14

3

1st

World Baseball Classic 8

8

3

quarterfinals

Third Summer Olympics (men)

5

1

1st

Third Summer Olympics (women)

7

1

3rd

World Baseball Classic 9

4

3

group stage

World Baseball Classic 10

12

6

4th

World Baseball Classic 11

15

4

3rd

World Baseball Classic 12

16

6

2nd

World Baseball Classic 13

7

3

Round of 16

World Baseball Classic 14

11

5

quarterfinals

World Baseball Classic 15

15

6

2nd

World Baseball Classic 16

17

8

3rd

World Baseball Classic 17

3

7

group stage

World Baseball Classic 18

6

4

Round of 16

World Baseball Classic 19

19

5

3rd

World Baseball Classic 20

14

5

3rd

I World Games (men)

4

2

4th

World Baseball Classic 21

15

7

1st

World Baseball Classic 22

13

3

quarterfinals

World Baseball Classic 23

6

4

group stage

World Baseball Classic 24

8

6

round of 16

World Baseball Classic 25

16

7

2nd

World Baseball Classic 26

16

5

3rd

World Baseball Classic 27

11

3

quarterfinals

World Baseball Classic 28

9

7

quarterfinals

World Baseball Classic 29

4

6

group stage

World Baseball Classic 30

1

7

group stage

World Baseball Classic total

296

139

Overall

314

145


The Zebras have inducted twelve members into the World Baseball Classic Hall of Fame.

Please note that the team names listed represent the current names of the teams; there are some anachronisms among the earlier players.

  • Klaus Rifkin (left fielder, FTC Zombies, 4-7)

  • Konrad Rubin (center fielder, Spenson Worms, 4-7)

  • Tobias Utopia (pitcher, Zwischen Bears, 4-7)

  • Brianna Schneider (pitcher, Hadiln Tigers, 8-11)

  • Caleb Runnon (pitcher, FTC Mustangs, 1-2, and II Olympics)

  • Nadia Koves (right fielder, Kerlagrad Dragons, III Olympics-10)

  • Alison Minium (catcher, Belpub Wildcats, 11-13)

  • Alexander Hamweigh (first base, FTC Zombies, 19-22)

  • Nicholas Bixler (right fielder, Hadiln Tigers, 18-21)

  • Martin Loomis (pitcher, Zwischen Bears, 14-17)

  • Ada Throop (center fielder, Weegham Rainmakers, 14-17)

  • Kelsey Yarowicz (left fielder, Logrove Dolphins, 21-23)

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