By Gabriel Fidler
BLAGOEVGRAD, Bulgaria — On an important day for Moscow in the Bulgaria pool of the Federations Cup Qualifier, the RusStars came up one run short in a rollercoaster game with the unbeaten London Mets before claiming its first win, a 10-3 triumph over Sofia. Brian Lainoff did not surrender a hit or a walk in an 8-7 win for the Mets, while Andrey Pekhotkin delivered five no-hit innings in relief to secure Moscow’s victory in the nightcap.
Moscow 7 – London 8
After a fairly close affair on Day Two, London and Moscow squared off a day later and this time, fans were treated to a thrilling affair. German Nukas tossed three shutout innings for the RusStars to start things off, before the Mets posted two runs in the fourth. The Mets’ Brian Lainoff was even better over the same period, however. In fact, the right-hander exited after four hitless frames, with two hit batters erased on a double play and a nifty throw from Jamie Dix to nail a RusStar runner.
London added a pair of additional runs in the sixth, but Moscow stormed back with a rally after a bout of wildness allowed the Russian club to start the inning with three free baserunners. Michael Flaherty wiggled out of the mess, but not before three-all three baserunners had touched home.
The Mets and the RusStars each pushed across two runs in the eighth, leading to an action-packed final frame. Moscow encountered exactly the same problem that London had in the sixth, as three base on balls led to two London runs. Flaherty (1-0) gave Manager Rich Minford a fright as he stayed in to close things out, surrendering two runs to the lively RusStars, but in the end, the Mets saw off the final rally.
Flaherty gave up two earned in four relief innings and did not walk a batter. Four London pitchers held Moscow to only five hits and three walks.
Sofia 3 – Moscow 10
Bulgaria’s representative in qualification for the Federations Cup started well, scoring a run in the first and getting solid defence from its outfield as Ventsislav Ivanov threw four scoreless innings to start. The Athletic added a pair of markers in the bottom of the fourth to take a 3-0 advantage.
The RusStars struck back, breaking up the shutout in the fifth before tacking on four in the sixth and three in the seventh. Another two in the ninth secured Russia a place in the pool’s title game. Andrey Pekhotkin (1-0) was sensational in relief, punching out five in five no-hit innings, walking four. Vladislav Kochetov had another big game, ripping a double and two singles in six plate appearances. Moscow’s third baseman came through when it mattered most, driving home two of his four runs on sacrifice flies.
Aug. 3: Sofia 4 – London 21 (7)
Aug. 3: Moscow 16 – Sofia 2 (7)
Aug. 4: London 8 – Moscow 4
Aug. 5: Moscow 7 – London 8
Aug. 5: Sofia 3 – Moscow 10
Aug. 6: Sofia – London
Final (Aug. 7): Moscow – London