As far as opening acts go, Engel Beltre and Spain had little competition.
Beltre had three hits and scored twice as Spain routed France, 8-0, in its first World Baseball Classic qualifying match.
The 22-year-old outfielder got off to a quick start, singling and stealing second in his first at-bat in the opening frame. Beltre came around to score on Yunesky Sanchez's RBI single. After striking out in his second at-bat, Beltre tripled in a run and scored on Paco Figueroa's single. Beltre singled and stole second in his final at-bat in the seventh.
Beltre spent the entire 2012 campaign with Texas' Double-A affiliate in Frisco. The Dominican native was a Texas League All-Star after batting .261 with 13 homers, 80 runs scored and 36 stolen bases for the Rough Riders. He was originally signed by the Red Sox in 2006 before being traded to the Rangers in the deal for Eric Gagne on July 31, 2007.
Former Pirates farmhand Paco Figueroa was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Barbaro Canizares, an International League All-Star for Gwinnett in 2010, homered and drove in two runs for Spain.
Nick Schumacher, who has spent the past two years pitching in the American Association after three seasons in the Padres organization, allowed four hits over 6 1/3 innings to earn the win for Spain.
Spain will square off against Israel on Friday afternoon while France will face winless South Africa later in the day in the modified double-elimination qualifying round.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.