The Sénart Templiers look locked in. The Savigny Lions can score in bunches. And Montpellier’s big-three pitching staff of Kevin Canelón, Owen Ozanich and Erly Cassanova is as good as advertised – and not just on the mound.
Those are the most immediate takeaways as France’s D1 baseball league nears the halfway mark of the regular season. The top squads, in other words, continue to shine, and two of them – the Templiers and the Montpellier Barracudas – have yet to even lose a game.
Sénart moved to 6-0 Sunday with a pair of victories over the visiting Metz Cometz, and Montpellier extended their streak to a perfect 8-0, despite playing on the road against a solid La Rochelle Boucaniers team that came into the day at 5-1.
With hitters like Ramiro Milar (.424) and Théo Lakmeche (.300) and solid pitching from guys like Wilce Nieves and Rayner Oliveros, both of them from Venezuela, the now 5-3 Boucaniers are not to be taken for granted, and in in the first game of their double-header, they kept things close.
Credit for that goes to Nieves, a former Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays prospect, who offered up another strong performance on the mound, pitching eight innings, striking out 10 and walking just two.
Unfortunately for the home team, a handful of costly fielding errors allowed Montpellier to get on the board early, with two runs in the second inning and third run in the fourth. And that, in turned out, was all the the Barracudas needed thanks to the continued dominance of their own Venezuelan ace, lefty Canelón, who gave up just three hits in six innings of work.
Righty Ozanich helped the cause as well, coming on in relief and collecting the save, his first of the year, after allowing just two hits and zero runs in three innings of work. He and Canelón now have identical 3-0 records, with one save a piece, and ERAs of… wait for it… 0.00!
Here’s another strange coincidence: The two pitchers have also been perfect at the plate. Quoi?
It’s true. Taking advantage of a rare opportunity to bat, Canelón went an incredible 4-for-4 two weeks ago against the Clermont-Ferrand Arvenes. This time around, it was Ozanich’s turn to a take a few cuts, and in Sunday’s afternoon game, the Franco-American took full advantage by going 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs to boot.
Ozanich wasn’t the only Barracuda getting into the swing of things in that second game, which Montpellier won by a commanding 12-0 thanks to flurry of hitting but also to another masterful outing by Cassanova, a right hander from Cuba who gave up just two hits in six innings and moved to 2-0 on the season.
The team got a big boost as well from newcomer Andy Cosgrove, a former Minnesota Twins prospect who played earlier this summer in the Czech Republic and only just made his way to France. Cosgrove failed to collect a hit on the day’s opening game – his first with Montpellier – but made up for things in the second game, with a 2-for-3 performance that included a full-count, two-run homer in the fifth that scored fellow American import Patrick Cromwell.
A former Clemson University standout, Cromwell has also been in a nice groove of late. The agile shortstop went hitless in his first give games with the Barracudas, but has since found his form. He went 3-for-7 Sunday and is now 6-for-12 in his last three games combined.
Keeping pace in the D1’s competitive Pool B, the Sénart Templiers, with a high-octane offense that has had no trouble putting points on the board, offered another reminder Sunday why they may still be the team to beat.
The squad made short work of the now 2-8 Cometz, winning 10-0, 10-4 to push their record to 6-0. Sénart pitcher Shane Priest, an American import, moved to 3-0 on the season, striking out 10 and allowing just two hits in the day’s opening game. And on offense, Alex Perdomo (.429), Andy Paz (.455) and Florian Peyrichou (.385) all had two hits a piece in the opener to help crush the visitors.
Perdomo and Paz were at it again in the afternoon game, collecting four hits and four RBIs between them. Centerfielder Mohammed Baoui made a big impact as well, going 3-for-5 in that game with two runs scored, and José Andrés Paula, taking his first swings since rehabbing a knee injury, also picked up a hit.
Putting up the points
Sénart isn’t the only D1 team with a explosive lineup this season. With a six-game winning streak and a 7-1 overall record, the Savigny Lions – leaders in the league’s Pool A – are capable of running up the score as well, and proved that once again Sunday with a pair of victories at home against Paris UC.
Savigny struggled early in the first game, giving up 11 runs in just the first three innings and 15 in the match as a whole. But they also scored – again and again – ultimately putting 21 runs on the visitors to notch another one in the win column.
Slugger Jacques Boucheron (.393) of Nouvelle-Calédonie had a monster game at the plate, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs and four runs scored. Gedeon Coste (.333) also had three hits and four RBIs for the Lions, as did Paris UC’s José Marte, a former San Francisco Giants prospect from the Dominican Republic.
Savigny won the afternoon game as well, though not just because of their hitting prowess. Led by fellow Dominican Yiexon Ruiz (.353) and Axel Amoros (.393), the Lions did score again in double digits, putting up 10 runs overall. But in this case, the biggest star of the match with Axel’s brother Lilian Amoros, who pitched an eight-inning, complete-game no hitter to move to 2-0 on the season.
Benson busts out
The day’s other two matchups featured Stade Toulousain, which hosted the Montigny Cougars, and the Clermont-Ferrand Arvenes, which played a pair on the Cote d’Azur against Nice Cavigal. And in both cases, the results were something of a surprise.
In Toulouse, the home team won both of their Sunday games, beating Montigny 11-1 and 5-2 to move to 4-4 on the season, just one game behind the defending D1 champion Rouen Huskies (5-3), who were off this weekend and are currently playing in the inter-league Champions Cup in the Czech Republic.
Armando Chappi (.444) had a big game for Stade Toulouain, going 3-for-4 at the plate, as did catcher Jossue Mendoza (.296), who collected two hits. Chappi picked up another hit in the afternoon game, and pitcher Franklin De La Rosa, who came on in relief in the third inning and earned the win after giving up just one run in six inning, helped his own cause with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate.
Clermont-Ferrand also enjoyed a two-victory day, despite coming into their showdown with Nice Cavigal with just a 1-7 record. In both games, their offense made the difference, as the Arvenes won the first by a score of 15-5 and the second 12-5.
Jacob Benson (.439) had a monster day for Clermont-Ferrand, going 8-for-12 overall. He now has 18 hits on the season, tops in the league ahead of Thomas Royce (.412) of Metz, La Rochelle’s Milar, and Ismail Pontiac (.467) of Montpellier, who are all sitting on 14.
Kento Akane (.344) also put on a show at the plate, collecting two hits in the first game and four more in the second, to go along with a combined four RBIs on the day.
For more information on scheduling and D1 stats, visit the FFBS website.
*Special thanks to Alonso Almedo Castro for allowing us to use his photo. To check out more of the photographer’s work, visit his Facebook page and Instagram account.
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