Czechia rebounded from its disastrous 21-7 Day 2 defeat to Spain to defeat France, 7-1, in the elimination bracket of the World Baseball Classic Qualifier in Regensburg. The planned nightcap between South Africa and host Germany was postponed on account of rain, with the two squads scheduled to take the field on Monday at 12:00 (CEST).
The winner of Monday’s contest will advance to face Czechia on Tuesday, with the winner facing either Spain or Great Britain for a berth in the March 2023 World Baseball Classic on Wednesday.
Czechia v. France (box score)
Czech starter Lukas Ercoli, the Czech baseball federation’s media officer and a late addition to the Czech roster, pitched four shutout innings in the must-win game, with the offense gifting him a two-run lead after a first inning that saw Vojtech Mensik start the Czech attack with his second leadoff homer in as many games. Former Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets farmhand Martin Cervenka drove home the second run on a double, and Ercoli kept France in check from there, scattering three hits while striking out four batters.
Ercoli’s strong performance on the mound in Regensburg was no surprise to those familiar with his work in this season’s Extraliga, where recorded a 2.29 ERA in 98.1 innings of work for the runners-up Hrosi Brno.
Martin Schneider followed Ercoli and was similarly effective in his four innings, the professional fire fighter allowing just two hits and one run as the Czech offense added two runs in the sixth, another run in the seventh, and another pair in the eighth.
Marek Chlup, who won the NCAA Division 2 championship with North Greenville University this season, drove in the two runs in the sixth when he drove a fading slider into right-center field. He went 3-for-5 in the game, with a Cervenka single responsible for the two runs in the eighth. All told, Cervenka went 2-for-5 with three RBI.
Eighteen-year-old Michal Kovala, who has committed to play at Georgia Tech University, pitched a scoreless ninth inning to secure the W, the victory setting up the Czechs for their second elimination game of the tournament on Tuesday.