MONTIGNY-LE-BRETONNEUX – Given the circumstances, it makes sense that the D1 baseball league mostly took last weekend off. Sunday, after all was May 1, International Worker’s DayMay!
But for every rule, as they say, there’s always an exception, and in this particular case, the exception unfolded outside of Paris at Stade Jean Maréchal, in the south-western suburb of Montigny-Le-Bretonneux.
That’s where the Montigny Cougars, 3-1 going into the weekend, hosted the Metz Cometz, who for a combination of scheduling and meteorological reasons, had yet to play a single game this season.
If I’d known just what an odyssey it would be to reach Montigny-Le-Bretonneux, where the local commuter train wasn’t, unbeknownst to me, operational at that particular time, I might have opted to take the weekend off myself.
But that, of course, would have meant missing out on all the action – including a MONSTER pitching performance by Yorfrank López of Venezuela – and not getting to enjoy yet another Opening Day in the Spring sunshine, where an upbeat crowd gathered to cheer on a particularly promising Cougars squad.
Winners of their three previous games, the home team picked up Sunday where they’d left off the weekend before against Paris UC, controlling the game on defense and scoring more than enough runs to get the job done.
In the opener, the Montigny lineup scored two early runs off D1 newcomer Patrick Jordan, a former University of Maine pitcher who walked three of the first four batters he faced before giving up a costly single to catcher Jonathan Jaspe, a former Toronto Blue Jays prospect from Venezuela.
Control issues cost Jordan again in the second inning, when he walked four batters but limited the Cougars to just one run. To his credit, though, the Bostonian settled down and stayed in the game through seven, collecting five strikeouts and giving up a total of five runs.
That, unfortunately for the Cometz, was more than Montigny needed thanks to an absolutely dominating pitching performance by López, who is now in his fourth season in the D1. The former Detroit Tigers prospect pitched all nine innings, allowing just two hits and striking out 17.
Talk about going to work!
The Cougars ended up winning the contest 8-0. Standouts on the offensive end included Jaspe, Maxime Nutte and Brazilian recruit Allan Bellen-Fagnoni, who all had two hits a piece.
With the win, López moves to 2-0. The Venezuelan has yet to give up an earned run, and he’s now second in the league in strikeouts with 24.
The person he trails in that category is teammate and fellow Venezuelan Robinson Maestre (28 Ks), who started Sunday’s afternoon game and put together a solid outing of his own, striking out 10 and walking just one batter in five innings.
Unlike in the first game, the Cometz were finally able to generate a bit of offense, scoring two runs in the third innings thanks to a double by veteran Victorien Roze, a fielding error that allowed U.S. recruit Markus Melendez to reach base, and a timely single by fellow D1 newcomer Trevor Rogers.
Metz pitcher Samuel Granoff, in the meantime, had the Montigny batters scratching their heads. The former University of San Francisco pitcher gave up two hits in the second inning but kept the Cougars scoreless through three.
But in the bottom of the fourth inning, the wheels suddenly came off for Granoff and the Cometz. Montigny erupted for eight runs, bouncing the U.S. recruit from the game and forcing Metz to dip into its shallow pool of relief pitchers.
Jaspe and Bellen-Fagnoni again had two hits a piece in the contest, as did Montigny’s designated hitter, Tom Mayeux. With four hits on the day, Bellen-Fagnoni now has eight on the season, one behind teammate Agustín Tissera of Argentina, who has nine and is tied for the league lead with Théo Lakmeche (La Rochelle), Hector Velasquez (Sénart) and Fabian Kovacs (Montpellier).
One bright spot for the Cometz was the play of first-baseman Rogers, a Californian who came in as a relief pitcher in the fifth inning and in four innings of work, kept the Cougars scoreless while limiting them to just two hits.
With the two wins, Montigny moves to 5-1 on the season, putting themselves in sole possession of first place in the Group A standings ahead of the defending D1 champion Rouen Huskies (3-1). They play at home again next Sunday (May 8) against the Savigny Lions (2-2).
The Cometz (0-2) are slated to play next weekend as well, against the Huskies, in Metz. They play Savigny the weekend after that.
For the full D1 schedule, results and stats, click here (FFBS)
*Special thanks to photographer Corentin Bougon for allowing us to publish some of his pics.