The SA baseball team arrived in Cape Town on Thursday ahead of their matches against France this weekend. Photo: Cape Town Baseball Federation via Facebook

CAPE TOWN – The South African men’s baseball team has been battling it out with France for the past week in the inaugural Presidents Cup.

And, after two games in Johannesburg and two in Durban, the seven-match series stands at 2-2 ahead of the Cape Town leg, which will be hosted by Durbanville Baseball Club from Friday to Sunday.

SA are ranked two places below France in 26th spot on the latest world rankings.

The two nations played each other for the first time in South Africa in 1993, vying for the Presidents Goodwill Cup and then the following year in Paris for a World qualifier.

They were at it again in the 2001 World Cup, but then had to wait until 2012 for their next showdown, with SA claiming a 5-2 victory after two extra innings in a rain-hit World Baseball Classic night qualifier in Florida.

The rivalry was renewed in Gauteng last weekend with SA, who were playing their first match on home soil since the 2000s, triumphing 24-13 at Boksburg Baseball Club.

The Africans doubled their advantage at the same venue the following day, the score 14-8.

France won the third clash (11-9) and fourth 5-4 at Hoy Park on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Now it’s down to the final three exchanges, and Cape baseball fans are urged to turn up in big numbers (R10 entrance fee) to support their boys.

“After a long absence of international baseball played in South Africa, the incoming French tour will give the fans a taste of quality baseball, something they having been craving for many years,” said Western Cape Baseball president Desmond Speelman.

“This tour will have a major impact on the development of the game in our neck of the woods, as well as the country.

“More international participation can only have positive spin-offs for our youth and communities in general.

“The incoming French will also give players in the rural and outlying areas the opportunity to come and watch the games.

“We wish the visitors a pleasant and memorable stay on our shores. To our team, all the best for the rest of the series.”

The series agreed upon in Botswana last year will become an annual event, alternating between the two countries, and will serve as a build-up to the 2020 Olympic Games qualification tournament.

IOL Sport