Unlike the MLB, which crowns its champion in October, the top league here wraps things up in late summer. But that doesn’t mean there’s no autumn baseball in France — au contraire, mon frère!
Thanks to the country’s top youth teams, there are some definite “fall classics” being played, including yesterday’s under-18 championship game in Bon-Encontre, home of the Boé-Bon-Encontre Indians.
Vying for the title were the defending champion Montpellier Barracudas and the Blue Jays of Saint-Aubin de Médoc, a small town north of Bordeaux. Montpellier reached the final by beating the Rouen Huskies 6-7 on Saturday. The Blue Jays got there by knocking out Savigny-sur-Orge by a score of 9-3.
In that game, the Blue Jays got a huge boost from Luis Foucaud of Sèvres, who went three-for-three with 4 RBIs. The 17-year-old also pitched four innings, giving up two runs and striking out four.
Helping lift the Barracudas into the final were shortstop Arthur Bidaut, 16, who went two-for-three with an RBI, and centerfielder Valenti Blanc-Jouvan, also 16, who pinned two hits of his own on the Savigny Lions.
Montpellier had an even more balanced attack in Sunday’s championship game, with four players (Bidaut, Nicolas Khoury, Kenny Esposito and Ethan Kekenbosh) all collecting two hits a piece. The Barracudas also got off to an early — and seemingly commanding — lead, scoring two in the first and eight more in the third to go up 10-0 on the Jays.
The Saint-Aubin squad refused to surrender, however, and managed to trim the lead in the fifth, scoring four runs on hits by Foucaud, Mathias Liminier, Mathias Lacombe and Kosta Coureaud.
The Blue Jays continued their hot hitting in the sixth inning, scoring five more runs. And in the seventh and final inning, they tacked an incredible eight more runs on the suddenly deflated Barracudas.
Foucaud (three hits and four RBIs), Liminier (three hits) and Lacombe (five-for-five with four RBIs) all had monster days at the plate for Saint-Aubin, which won the game 17-10 to earn its first under-18 championship.
The Sunday showdown came exactly one week after France’s top under-15 teams slugged it out in their own championship game, in Beaucaire (home of the Chevaliers), where the Templiers of Sénart took on the Montpellier Barracudas, winners of the 2018 crown.
Both teams crushed their respective opponents to reach the title game. Montpellier beat the Metz Cometz 14-1 and Sénart crushed the Boé-Bon-Encontre Indians 12-1. And against each other, in the Oct. 13 final, the scoring frenzy continued.
The Barracudas scored two runs in the first inning, four in the third, two more in the fourth and seven runs on five hits in the fifth to go up 15-2. But in the bottom of the fifth, the Templiers scored four runs of their own in what would be the start of a phenomenal comeback.
Sénart added four more runs in the sixth and then scored six in the seventh and final inning to complete the epic turnaround and secure its first U15 title. Thomas Gras, an outfielder and second baseman, scored the winning run on a wild pitch after going three-for-four in the game with four RBIs. Montpellier’s Mathis Nayral had a big day as well, collecting four hits and knocking in a pair.
Nayral was also recognized as the top pitcher in the tournament. The best batter award went to Titien Ravaine of Metz, and Sénart’s Esteban Lamotte earned MVP honors.