Italy scored six runs in the top of the tenth inning to beat South Africa, 10-4, in the completion of the game suspended because of rain on Wednesday night.
Chris Colabello singled to open the top of the tenth. Sebastiano Poma, the runner at second base per the tie-break rule, scored and Andrew Maggi, who was standing at first, reached third. Designated hitter Peppe Mazzanti drove a ball deep enough to left field to make it a sacrifice fly. On a deep infield hit to shortstop by second baseman Vaglio, Chris Colabello took his chance and headed home, beating the tag by catcher Botha. Federico Celli broke the score open as he homered to centre with a runner on the move.
“There was no hit and run, but I was trying to go to opposite field,” commented Federico Celli after the game “I hit it well. We struggled Wednesday, now that we have recorded two wins we feel ready. This tournament is about playing every game as if it was the final.”
The game ended on a triple play. The home plate umpire called a fair ball on a swinging bunt by Rowan Ebersohn. The runners on board per the tie break rule didn’t move and Italy’s catcher Alberto Mineo started an easy triple play with the throw at third. Ebersohn argued it was a foul ball and South Africa challenged the call, finding out that the play was not reviewable.
“Calls on fair or foul balls or about catch or no catch on fly balls under current protocol cannot be reviewed when the plays happen in the infield,” commented Gustavo Rodriguez, WBSC Umpire Commission Chairman.
Italy used four pitchers for the completion. Chicago Cubs Minor Leaguer and Parma native Matteo Bocchi worked a perfect ninth inning to earn the win.
Italy’s manager Gilberto Gerali was already focusing on the night game against Israel: “It’s going to be the key of the whole tournament, no doubt about it. I feel we are ready. We get there with Lugo ready to start and a rested bullpen. It’s what we were looking for.”
The game had been suspended with one out in the top of the sixth on Wednesday, 18 September
South Africa took an early lead against struggling Italian starter Alessandro Maestri, who struck out the side in the first, but walked a batter with the bases loaded and gave up a two-RBI single to first baseman Hein Robb.
Italy tied the games two times against Dylan Unsworth, a pitcher who got as high as Triple-A in the USA Minor Leagues. Italy scored two runs in the top of the third on a double by shortstop Gavin Cecchini. Right fielder John Andreoli added an RBI-single. Catcher Alberto Mineo tied it again in the top of the fourth as he homered on the fourth offering by Unsworth.
Left-hander Michael Johnson relieved Maestri in the bottom of the fourth. The game was delayed because of lightning with one out in the top of the sixth at 9.51 and called because of hard rain after one hour.