MONTPELLIER — The regular phase of France’s D1 baseball season is finally over, and with it the lingering question of which team — the Montpellier Barracudas or Sénart Templiers — would finish first in Pool B and thus avoid a first-round playoff series against the defending champions, the Rouen Huskies.
The Barracudas, trailing by just one game in the standings, came into Sunday’s double-header against the visiting Templiers with hopes still of winning the pool. To do so, however, Montpellier would have to win both games against a team that already beat them twice (in Sénart) earlier this season.
It was a tall order, in other words, and one that the Templiers — led by a red-hot Andy Paz, who went 3-for-6 in the game with a two RBIs and pair of triples — nixed emphatically with a four-run outburt in the sixth inning of their opener.
Adding to the drama was a bungled call at the plate, where catcher Nolan Soliveres of the Barracudas delivered a tag on the advancing runner that resulted in a confusing “safe… no wait, he’s out… actually, he’s safe” ruling that sent Montpellier manager Jean-Michel Mayeur into a fury and even drew groans from inside the Sénart dugout.
Be that as it may, the rally put Sénart ahead 6-3 and forced the home team’s starting pitcher, Kevin Caneléon, out of the contest. The Barracudas, in the meantime, struggled on the offensive end against Sam Belisle-Springer, normally Sénart’s number-two starter, who was brought on in relief to seal the deal for the Templiers.
Montpellier was able to score a run, finally, in the bottom of the ninth, but by then it was too little too late. Final score: 7-4 Templiers.
The Barracudas bounced back in the afternoon game, piling on the points early against Sénart pitcher José Andrés Paula. They ended up winning the contest 16-6 on a walk-off, in-the-park home run by Pierre Doat, 16, who was recently selected, for the first time, to join the French national team.
By then, of course, it was too late to catch the Templiers in the standings. But hey, a win’s a win! And the Barracudas — looking for momentum as they head into the semi-finals next weekend — are happy to take it.
The Templiers, with their pool-clinching victory in the opener, finish the regular season at 18-2 and will face the Savigny Lions (10-6), the second-place finishers in Pool A, in a best-of-five series starting next Saturday night in Sénart.
Montpellier moves to 17-3, and will square off next Sunday, at home, against Rouen (12-4), winners of five straight league titles (2015-2019) and 14 of the past 15. The only year in that span that the Huskies didn’t finish on top was 2014, when Sénart won the championship.
The Barracudas have three titles to their name, but none since the mid-1990s, when they were skippered by Canadian baseball legend Greg Hamilton. Savigny has won the league five times, most recently in 2004.
For more info on scheduling, results and stats, visit the FFBS website.