Czechs Over France
CZE v FRA
The Czech Republic and France each entered today’s game knowing one of them would be going home. Neither wanted to be the first team eliminated from the possibility of competing at the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Despite the rain delay at the start the more than 900 fans in attendance stuck around to see just which team would remain standing.
The Czech offense struck first and never let themselves slide out of the lead. Vojtech Mensik stepped into the box and hit the fourth pitch he saw for yard just right of center field. That got the bench fired up. Petr Zyma doubled and was sent around for the second run of the inning on another double, this one off the bat of teammate Martin Cervenka.
After a mound visit France’s starter, Canadian Marc-Andre Habeck, settling in and held the Czech bats at bay through the remainder of his 3.2 innings of work.
In the top 5th Czech pitcher Schneider made a great defensive play off the bunt to get the lead runner at 3rd. In the bottom of the same inning Marek Chlup was caught trying to take 3rd by Venezuelan-born C Ivan Acuna.
In the bottom of the 6th you could see the Czech momentum growing in correlation to the rate at which the energy left the body of French hurler Yoimer Camacho. Simply put, he was out of gas and everyone, including him, knew it.
With two away and behind in the count 0-2, 2B Jakub Hajtmar took two bags on a line drive to center. He advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch by Camacho, who was clearly losing control. He walked LF Mensik who then stole 2nd before Zyma was given the only empty bag by Comacho.
Chlup, who started Czech’s 7th inning rally yesterday with a solo homerun, drove in both Hajtmar and Mensik on a line drive single that deflected off 2B Alfredo Angarita to land in right. That gave the Czechs some insurance as they went ahead 4-0.
Taking no futher chances, France went to the pen and shut it down. In the bottom of the 7th the Czechs added a run when Arnost Dubovy doubled in Martin Muzik, who had reached on a single.
The Czech pen combined for 8 scoreless innings. France’s only run came in the top of the 8th off a little small ball action from the top of their order. Leo Jiminian started things off with a double to center and advanced to third on a groundout from Alfredo Angarita. With two away Ivan Acuna singled on the ground to short to drive him across the plate.
Leaving nothing to chance after their 21-7 trouncing by Spain yesterday, 5 of which they scored in their own do-or-die situation, the Republic added some insurance in the bottom of the inning to finish 7-1 after France had their last ups in the 9th.
France became the first team eliminated from the qualifiers but they won’t be the last. Only two of the six teams this week will advance to the quarter finals in March. The Czech Republic won themselves a reprieve today but every game they enter for the remainder of the tournament could be their last.
They’ll face the winner of tonight’s game between Germany and South Africa who, themselves are playing to avoid elimination as each are 0-1 heading into the game.