LA ROCHELLE — And the winner is? The answer is: ce n’est pas encore clair. Nightfall put an abrupt end to the final match of the second day of the Challenge de France, leaving the result — and the question of whether the Sénart Templiers or La Rochelle Boucaniers pass to the tournament’s semi-final round — very much up in the air.
As it stood halfway through the eighth inning, the Boucaniers, thanks to an inspired pitching performance by Maxence Esteban, a number of spectacular defensive plays, and a considerable amount of fatigue by the defending Challenge champion Templiers, were up 4-3, but with Sénart threatening to score the tying run.
What happens from there will have to wait until tomorrow morning.
Whichever team qualifies for the semis will face the Rouen Huskies shortly after, starting at 11 a.m. Later, beginning at 4 p.m., the Montpellier Barracudas will take on the Savigny Lions.
Rouen earned their ticket to the next round with a 19-4 beatdown of the Lions. Bastien ‘Balou’ Dagneau had a big game for the Huskies, collecting three hits and four RBIs. Hugo Blondel had an even more impressive day at the plate, knocking in an incredible six runs on four hits.
For Savigny, Ivan Acuña continued his hot streak, collecting two hits after racking up five on Thursday against the Montigny Cougars. Jacques Boucheron also had a hit and an RBI.
To stay in the hunt for the semis despite the loss, the Lions had to play the Cougars (for the second time in two days) in a late-afternoon game. And once again, they came out victorious, beating Montigny 15-3 thanks again to some timely hitting by Acuña, who went 2-for-4, and Boucheron, who had three hits and five RBIs. Théo Saxemard came up big as well, collecting three hits and two RBIs.
The team they’ll face tomorrow — the Barracudas — had their own unlikely path to the semis. After nudging the Boucaniers on Thursday, Montpellier faced the daunting task of taking on the powerhouse Templiers. They got off to a good start with two runs in the opening frame, but then gave up five to Sénart in the bottom of the first.
The Barracudas fought their way back, however, in what proved to a marathon of a match that forced the Barracudas to go far deeper into their pitching rotation than planned. The third inning proved decisive for the underdogs, who scored nine runs, four of them off a grand slam by Clément Le Pichon.
Montpellier’s Owen Ozanich, pitching for the second time in two days, put 3.2 innings of solid relief — and earned the win — and Montpellier’s lefty ace, Kevin Canelón, came on late to earn the save.
Earlier in the day, the La Rochelle Boucaniers kept their hopes alive with a tough, 4-0 win over the Metz Cometz in a game that featured two of the D1 league’s best pitchers: Stephen Fleury, for Metz, and Wilce Nieves, who pitched a complete game shutout, giving up just four hits for La Rochelle.
Stay tuned as the Challenge de France resumes on Saturday in La Rochelle.
For more information on scheduling and stats, visit the FFBS website. To follow the action live, download the Baseball TV France app, available at Google Play Store and App Store.
[…] polémique! Suspended less than halfway through the eighth inning due to visibility problems (night had fallen), Friday’s evening matchup between to La Rochelle Boucaniers and Sénart […]