Daniel FIGUEROA continued his torrid assault with the stick and Eric GONZALEZ stifled the French lineup for most of the game as Spain beat France 6-2 in a key Pool B matchup on Wednesday.
Spain, the tournament host, advances to the final round as the No.2 seed from Pool B with a 4-1 mark. Great Britain (4-1) won the group while France and Italy tied with a 3-2 record. The French advanced to the final round by virtue of their win against Italy.
France took an early lead when Sebastien HERVE led off the game with a double to right field. Kenji HAGIWARA executed the sacrifice bunt to put the game’s fist runner 90 feet from paydirt. HERVE scored to give France a 1-0 lead on Boris MARCHE’S groundball to second.
Spain answered back in the third when Daniel MARTINEZ knocked in Nestor PEREZ with a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Figueroa, who was 3-for-4, singled and later scored on Dewis NAVARRO RBI single to right field to give Spain a 2-1 advantage.
The French tied the score in the fifth when Jamel BOUTAGRA hit a 2-0 pitch from GONZALEZ into left field for a single. Joris BERT drew a free pass after David MEURANT flied out before HERVE tied the game with his second hit of the day.
FIGUEROA helped Spain extend their lead in the seventh when his triple to right center scored Perez and Daniel SANCHEZ to make the score 4-2. Spain’s talented leadoff hitter scored a few pitches later on a single by MARTINEZ to increase the lead to 5-2.
GONZALEZ, who celebrated his 21st birthday last week, struck out nine and walked three in a complete game effort. The righty limited the French to only two runs and five hits. Samuel MEURANT (1-1) suffered the loss after getting tagged for five runs and seven hits.
Spain will get the day off on Thursday before resuming action on Friday against Germany in a key game with medal ramifications. France will also be rewarded with an “off” day and will battle Sweden on Friday.