The Lions Roar In Toulouse, Plus Other Results From Around The D1

Ivan Acuña (file photo) had a big day at the plate Sunday (B. Witte)

The weekend’s showcase event – a Sunday double-header between the undefeated Montpellier Barracudas (6-0) and the Sénart Templiers (4-0) turned out to be… a wash. Literally!

Heavy showers pummeled Montpellier’s Greg Hamilton Baseball Park all morning, turning the normally dusty diamond into a sloshy quagmire that proved impossible to play on. The question, therefore, of how the home team’s deep rotation of Erly Cassanova, Kevin Canelón and Owen Ozanich would stack up against the Templiers’ high-octane offense will remain unanswered, perhaps until late August, when the teams have their next scheduled meeting, this time in Lieusaint, south of Paris.

Still, there was plenty of D1 baseball action elsewhere over the weekend, with some revealing results, starting with a two-victory performance by the roaring Savigny Lions, who beat Stade Toulousain in Toulouse by an impressive 10-6 and 14-0.

In the opening game, Savigny’s star pitcher, former MLB hurler Mauricio Robles of Venezuela, struggled early, giving up two runs in the opening frame and two more in the third inning. The team benefited, however, from a solid relief performance from Lilian Amoros, who took over in the fifth and picked up the win, giving up two runs on four hits in five innings.

Savigny’s Tom Dahan joined the barrage against Toulouse (Credit: B. Witte)

The biggest difference maker, nevertheless, came on the offensive side, especially at the top of lineup, as shortstop Alfredo Angarita, left fielder Yeixon Ruiz, first baseman Axel Amoros, and catcher Ivan Acuña all delivered multiple hits to put the score out of reach.

Savigny’s bats turned the temperature up even higher in the afternoon game, torching Toulouse pitchers Franklin De La Rosa and Florian Bruet with hits from up and down the order. Acuña, the D1’s 2019 batting champ, went yard in the fourth, picking up three of his five RBIs in the game. Right fielder Tom Dahan was locked in as well, going two-for-two with two RBIs and two runs scored, and Pierre-Emmanuel Planes picked up two RBIs and a hit to go along with a two-hit, two-RBI performance in the first game.

The 5-1 Lions, leaders in the D1’s Pool A, now have three players batting north of the .400 mark, starting with Angarita (.478), who also leads the team in hits (11) and RBIs (7). Acuña upped his average to .421, and Planes is now hitting an even .400.

Rouen keeps pace

The Lions have now won four straight, but can hardly rest of their laurels given that the one team that beat them this season – the defending champion Rouen Huskies – are nipping at their heels in Pool A with a 5-3 record.

The pack proved once again on Sunday that even without some of their key import players – most notably pitcher Yoimer Camacho – they’re a group to be reckoned with it, and in this case the lesson came at the expense of Paris UC.

Rouen’s Bastien Dagneau (Credit: Benjamin Witte)

Led by slugger Bastien Dagneau, who went three-for-five in the game and upped his season average to .316, the Huskies eked out a narrow 5-4 victory in the opening game before exploding for 16 runs in the afternoon match.

In that game, Dagneau picked up another hit, American import Jacob Biller (.421) went two-for-three with two RBIs and three runs scored, and catcher Luc Viger (.316) went two-for-four with an impressive four RBIs.

Boucaniers bounce back

Elsewhere, the La Rochelle Boucaniers, who started the season a perfect 4-0, dropped a nail-biter (4-5) after giving up three runs to Nice Cavigal in the sixth inning. Playing at home, Nice pitcher Paolo Salado put in some serious overtime on the mound, pitching a complete game to earn the win, with 14 strikeouts and just one walk.

Salado then started the afternoon game as well, going three innings before handing the ball over to Jonathan Montas of the Dominican Republic. In that game, the now 5-1 Boucaniers got their revenge, beating Nice Cavigal 4-3 behind a solid outing from pitcher Wilce Nieves, who’s now 3-0 on the season.

La Rochelle also got timely hitting from Italian-Argentine import Ramiro Milar, who went a combined five-for-nine on the day to up his average to an even .500. He’s now tied with Montpellier’s Ismail Pontiac for the league lead in hits with 13.

Another bit of good news for the Boucaniers, who are now just one game back in the standings behind Montpellier in Pool B, is the return of Texas native Chris Buitron, who went three-for-eight on the day with two RBI, and begins his season with a promising .375 average. Welcome back Chris!

A taste of victory

Sunday’s final matchup was between two teams that have mostly struggled so far. One of them, the Clermont-Ferrand Arvenes, came in at 0-6, but finally got onto the win column with a 5-3 victory at home over the Metz Cometz.

Three pitchers, Martin Nicolas, Kento Akane and Julien Cauchy, combined to keep the Cometz hitters at bay, and on offense, Jacob Benson (.345), Brice Lorienne (.310), Daniel Rosell (.233) and Calo Monteiro (0.84) each had two-hits in the game to pace the home team.

Metz flipped the script in the second game, beating the Arvenes 6-2 to move to 2-6 on the season. Pitcher Carson Goldsmith had a strong outing, giving up just three hits and one run in seven innings.

Another bright spot this season for the Cometz is Thomas Joyce, who is batting .414 and now has 12 hits on the season, just behind La Rochelle’s Milar and Montpellier’s Pontiac (.520).

And that folks, is a wrap….

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