REGENSBURG, GERMANY – The Great Britain Men’s Baseball Team got off to a winning start at the World Baseball Classic Qualifier on Friday night with a 14-4, 8-inning victory over cross-channel rival France.
Playing in their first WBCQ game since 25 September 2016 - 1,182 days ago - the game began with a moment of silence in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and the first-ever singing of God Save the Queen by a GB Baseball team.
McKenzie Mills got the start for Great Britain and needed just 6 pitches to retire the side in the bottom of the first. In the second, a leadoff home run for Ivan Acuna put GB at a deficit, but catcher Harry Ford was able to able to end the inning with a screaming throw to third on a pitch in the dirt - after a successful challenge from Manager Drew Spencer - to retire France’s Bastien Dagneau.
GB’s bats fired up in the third, and again Ford was the catalyst. After Anfernee Seymour lead off with a single, he was able to advance to third before Ford crushed his first international home run to straightaway centre field and gave the Lions a 2-1 lead.
Mills was able to escape a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the third, and then GB extended their lead. Alex Crosby and D’Shawn Knowles both reached base on free passes, and, after a pitching change, Rudd joined them on-base with another. Kent Blackstone then grounded into a double play, with Crosby scoring, and Seymour added an RBI single to bring in Knowles and extend the lead.
Vance Worley made his GB debut with a 1-2-3 inning on 12 pitches in the fourth and was rewarded with run support when Nick Ward scored on a Knowles double in the fifth, extending the lead to 5-1.
Gunnar Groen relieved Worley in 5th, and got into trouble, with a pair of runs scoring, before Camrin Opp came in to retire the side. GB added another run in the sixth on a Matt Koperniak RBI single, scoring Ford.
Great Britain’s offense exploded in the seventh and eight innings, scoring four runs in each frame. In the seventh, a two-run single by Jaden Rudd, and a pair of run scoring hits for Blackstone and Seymour did the damage; In the eighth, Blackstone again singled and both Justin Wylie and Rudd scored on an error by French right fielder Mael Zan and came around to score on a Seymour single. Ward then was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, scoring Seymour. France scraped a run back in the seventh on a sacrifice fly, but with a 10-run deficit after eight innings, the World Baseball Classic run rule came into effect, giving the Lions their first victory of the tournament.
Mills (1-0) earned the victory in the start, while French starter Kevin Canelon (0-1) shouldered the loss.
Great Britain will play host nation Germany on Saturday at 6 PM BST at a sold-out Armin-Wolf-Arena.
The World Baseball Classic Qualifier can be watched on the World Baseball Classic YouTube and Facebook pages, as well as at WorldBaseballClassic.com and on MLB.TV. Games will also be shown in the United Kingdom on BT Sport.
For the latest news and notes from GB Baseball at World Baseball Classic Qualifier and more, make sure to follow Great Britain Baseball on Facebook, and gb_baseball on Twitter and Instagram.
- #LetsGoGB –
p. +44 (0) 7376 297751