La Rochelle, Toulouse Storm Into The French Summer League Final

How sweet it is! La Rochelle squeezes past Paris UC 2-1 (Credit: B. Witte)

LIEUSAINT—They came, they saw, they talked a fair amount of smack (en español), and in the case of the La Rochelle Boucaniers and Stade Toulousain, they conquered, earning well deserved berths in tomorrow’s French Summer League (FSL) title game.

Held at Templiers Stadium south of Paris, Saturday’s semi-final games in the 11-team, mixed-level tournament were a whole lot of fun. They were also refreshingly intense, starting with the mid-afternoon showdown between the FSL’s two undefeated teams, the Boucaniers and Paris UC.

The Parisian club drew first blood, scoring in the opening frame on an RBI-double by Douglas Rodríguez of Venezuela. The Boucaniers were quick to equalize however, when Forrest Crawford scored on a double by fellow estadounidense Jesse Baker.

From there the game played out very much as a pitcher’s duel between La Rochelle’s Pablo Ossandon, who moved to France several years ago from Chile, and former MLB hurler Harvey García of Venezuela.

García gave up just one additional run, in the second, when La Rochelle’s number-nine hitter, Paul-André Bodin, singled to score Tom Regnier. But that, in turned out, was all the Boucaniers needed thanks to a masterful outing by Ossandon, who pitched himself out of a few jams to keep Paris UC scoreless. Kudos also for La Rochelle’s Reyner Oliveros, who came in late in the sixth to pick up the save.

Afterwards, Ossandon celebrated the 2-1 win with a flag from his native Chile, which is in the midst of its several-day-long fiestas patrias (independence-day celebrations) right now.

Chi-chi-chi, Le-le-le. Ossandon had plenty to celebrate (Credit: B. Witte)

But as the right-hander explained to Le Baseblog, he was also thinking a lot about his dearly departed grandmother (it was her birthday) and his niece, who just had major surgery in the United States.

“This victory is for them,” he said.

In the second of the two semi-finals, it was Nice Cavigal — 5-1 during the FSL’s pool phase — that had the edge early. Catcher Jonathan Montas was visibly pumped up, and in the first inning, pumped a 2-RBI triple over the rightfielder’s head. He later scored to put his team up 3-0.

After a rain delay, however, the Toulouse Tigers clawed their way back, scoring one run in the second inning on a double by their starting pitcher, Ismael Pontiac.

Starting pitcher Ismael Pontiac helped his own cause with an RBI double in the second

In the next inning, the lefty struggled on the mound, and was replaced by Yuri García, who saved the team from a bases-loaded jam. García pitched the rest of the game and, despite loading the bases in the seventh and final inning, kept Nice from scoring any additional runs.

Toulouse, in the meantime, tied the score in the bottom of the third inning, and then blew the game open with a huge, five-run fourth inning to put things out of reach and earn a date tomorrow with La Rochelle. Final score: 8-3 Toulouse.

The two losing teams face off Sunday morning at 10:30 for the FSL’s bronze-medal game. La Rochelle and Toulouse play the title game starting at 2 p.m.

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