AVIGLIANA — Another beautiful day in the picturesque, northern Italian town of Avigliana — one of three host sites in the 2021 European Baseball Championships — ended on a decidedly bitter note for Team France, this time at the hands of the Israeli national squad.
Looking to bounce back from Sunday night’s loss to Great Britain, Les Bleus instead fell into an early hole when Israel’s Jordan Petrushka of Holy Cross University in Massachusetts tagged France’s starting pitcher, Marc-André Habeck, for a two-RBI single in the opening inning.
Habeck, fresh off a summer stint with the Winnipeg Goldeneyes in Canada, bounced back, settling into a nice groove over the next four innings to give the French lineup some much needed breathing room. But despite giving themselves several opportunities to score, France failed to capitalize.
Still up by just two runs after five innings, Team Israel turned up the heat in the top of the sixth inning, when third baseman Assaf Lowengart of Mansfield University in Pennsylvania blasted a home run, his first of two on the day, that added three more runs to their lead. The Israelis picked up another run before the inning was over, and from there, never looked back.
Lowengart, who went 3-for-5 on the day with an impressive six RBIs, hit another home run in the ninth inning, and Team France, all out of answers, failed to mount even the most modest of comebacks, eventually losing the game 0-10.
The one bright spot for Les Bleus was the play of Mathis Nayral, who at just 17 is enjoying his first call-up for Team France. Pitching in relief, the teenager gave up just one hit and no earned runs in 1.2 innings of work.
A week earlier, Nayral helped the Montpellier Barracudas win the Challenge de France, an annual tournament featuring the top eight teams in France’s D1 league. The future is definitely looking bright for this young man!
France next takes on Team Russia starting at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning in Turin. To follow all the action live, visit the WBSC Europe page.