AVIGLIANA — Playing under the lights on a picture-perfect night just outside the medieval Italian village of Avigliana, Team France got off to a frustrating start Sunday in the 2021 European Baseball Championships, falling to Great Britain in a game they trailed throughout.
Starting pitcher Owen Ozanich, a member this year of the Montpellier Barracudas, in France’s D1 league, had a strong first inning and struck out five in his three innings of work. But he also walked four batters, and gave up three hits that Team Britain cashed in on for three runs — one in the second inning and two more in third.
Replaced in the fourth by fellow Franco-American Eric Moore, who blanked the British in the fourth inning, Les Bleus looked poised for a comeback when first baseman Daniel Patrice of the Montigny Tigers scored in the top of the fifth on an RBI by Louis Brainville, a member of the defending D1 champion Rouen Huskies.
Reliever Liam Sabiston kept France from doing any more damage, however, and in the bottom of the sixth, Great Britain’s Grant Kerry — who was born in England but currently plays for Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho — took France’s Franklin De La Rosa deep to put his team up 5-1. He finished with four RBIs in total.
The British added two more in the seventh, putting France into an even deeper hole. Les Bleus weren’t done quite yet, however. In the eighth, a towering double by Andy Paz that scored Sénart Templiers teammate José Andrés Paula allowed France to pick up a second run. By then, though, it was too little too late, especially with Christopher Messer, Team Britain’s closer, there to seal the deal by striking out the side in the ninth.
Final score: 7-2 Great Britain, whose four pitchers held France to just three hits.
Les Bleus won’t have long to lick their wounds. Their next match is today against Team Israel, who eked out an extra-innings win (2-1) yesterday against Russia. France will have their own chance to take on the Russians starting at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning in Turin.
To follow all the action live, visit the WBSC Europe page.