TURIN — It came too late to advance past the group stage in the ongoing European Baseball Championships, but Les Bleus — after two devastating losses to begin the campaign — finally got a win, nudging past Team Russia 5-4 in a morning match in a nearly empty Paschetto Baseball Stadium in Turin.
Like in the games against Great Britain and Israel, the French fell behind early, in this case off a solo home run by Russian first baseman Ian Alekhandro Peres Nunes. But in the bottom of the second, Team France bounced back thanks to a two-out, three-run double by their leadoff hitter, Paolo Brossier of the Montpellier Barracudas.
It was the kind of clutch hit that the group was missing in their earlier games, and it gave the French some much-needed momentum. Russia drew closer with another run in the top of the third, but Les Bleus — sensing a chance to put a positive twist on what had otherwise been a hugely disappointing run in the tournament — kept attacking.
Felix Brown scored in the bottom of the third off a long line-drive by his Sénart Templiers teammate Andy Paz, a former Oakland Athletics prospect, and in the next inning, designated hitter José Andrés Paula, also a member of the Templiers, hit a leadoff double and later scored on a double by Martin Vissac of the Rouen Huskies, the defending champions in France’s D1 league.
The French team maintained their 5-2 lead through the sixth inning, but gave up two runs — both of them on bases-loaded walks — in the top of the seventh. In the final two innings, however, Paula, who’d come as a relief pitcher, and Franco-American hurler Eric Moore blanked the Russians to protect the lead and give Les Bleus a narrow victory.
Bravo les gars !
Team France will have one last chance to play in the Baseball Euros tomorrow, Wednesday, against either Germany or Ukraine.
To follow all the action live, visit the WBSC Europe page.