Italy (number 12 in WBSC World Rankings) won the third edition of the European Baseball Series as they defeated (2 games to 1) number 8 The Netherlands.
On Friday, October 20, Italy claimed game 1 in Verona with a 3-2 win, playing perfect defense and outhitting (9-5) the Dutch.
Italy’s top pitcher Alessandro Maestri went 5 innings, striking out 6 and allowing only 2 hits. He gave up the lead on a fourth inning lead off homer by slugging center field Sams but his line up came back with a solo homer by right fielder Nicola Garbella in the bottom half of the frame and he could leave with the teams tied at 1.
Italy won it in the bottom of the sixth, as they got to reliever Maikel Rietel with 2 out base hits by first baseman Sambucci, catcher Mineo and designated hitter Reginato. Yomel River pitched 2 innings to earn the win and Phillies prospect Ludovico Coveri followed with 2 more and picked up the save, despite allowing a run.
The Azzurri won (6-2) and the series in Godo di Russi (Ravenna) on Saturday, October 21. Right fielder Nicola Garbella (2 for 5) and designated hitter Mattia Reginato (2 for 4, home run) had both a 2 RBI game. Catcher (and Cubs minor leaguer) Alberto Mineo also had a 2 hit game. Former minor leaguer Andrea Pizziconi (DBacks, Royals) went 4 innings and struck out 6. Nicolò Clemente earned the win pitching 2 scoreless innings. Veteran left hander Diegomar Markwell suffered the loss.
The Netherlands won (5-2) game 3, played in Lodi on Sunday, 22 October. Rookie Alex Bassani shut out the Dutch, allowing only 3 hits, and left with Italy leading 1-0 against decorated veteran Rob Cordemans.
The Dutch tied the game in the fifth against reliever Diego Fabiani on a 2 out double by third baseman Dwayne Kemp and took full advantage of control struggles by rookie reliever Claudio Scotti (3 walks, loss) and a couple of defensive errors to turn their sixth at bat in a 4 run rally. Relievers Reitel and Bolsenbroek (who earned the win) pitched scoreless innings. Italy added a run against former Italian Baseball League hurler Yintema.
“I am honest: I think we could make it a sweep” told Italy’s newly appointed manager Gilberto Gerali. Still, I am happy. This group of players showed their potential. This was only the first step on the path to the Olympic Qualifier”.
Steve Janssen, 2 time European Champion with The Netherlands, commented: “Good we could finish with a win. Playing 3 games at this level helps more than training for one consecutive week”.