Legends On Deck

WBC: Venezuela Edges Italy To Advance To Second Round

On Monday night Venezuela and Italy met for one extra game to decide who would advance to the second round.

The game seemed to belong to Italy as they shut down the Venezuela offense for eight innings allowing just one run in the sixth.

In the bottom of the 1st, Italy took a 1-0 lead on an RBI single off the bat of Daniel Descalso, scoring John Andreoli.

On the mound, Italy starter A.J. Morris, who pitched in seven major league games in 2016, shut down the first nine batters he faced in a lineup that boasts all major league hitters. It wasn’t until the fourth inning that he allowed a runner, when he hit Ender Inciarte with a pitch. But Martin Prado grounded into a double play and Miguel Cabrera grounded out to end the inning.  Then in the fifth, it was deja vu, as Morris walked the first batter, induced a ground ball double play off the bat of Rougned Odor and then struck out Carlos Gonzalez to end the inning.

Morris was replaced in the 6th inning, after tossing five no hit innings, no runs, one walk and five strikeouts. If not for the 65 pitch rule, Morris may have had the opportunity to see how long he could shut down the Venezuela offense.

Trey Nielsen came on to try and keep Italy in the lead, but he walked the first batter he faced, then Odubel Herrera reached on a throwing error from second baseman Descalso moving Alcides Escobar to second base. Next batter Robinson Chirinos grounded into a force out as the third baseman Alex Liddi got the runner out at third.

But Venezuela tied the game at 1-1 when Inciarte singled to right field scoring Herrera. After a pitching change, bringing Pat Venditte into the game, he quickly retired the next two batters on pop outs with only four pitches, keeping the game tied.

In the bottom of the seventh, Italy took the lead back on a solo shot off the bat of Andreoli to go back up 2-1.

In the top of the ninth, Mike DeMark came on to try and shut the door on Venezuela and send Italy to the next round, but Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera had other plans, as he tied the game at 2-2, with a bomb to right center field.

Then Victor Martinez walked, replaced by Yangervis Solarte, who scored the go-ahead run from first when Odor singled off the top of the wall, which initially looked like a home run, but was ruled in play by the umpires.

After another pitching change brought in Frailyn Florian, and he quickly gave up a single to Gonzalez, moving Odor to third, but Gonzalez was thrown out at second trying to advance. Escobar then perfectly placed a bunt, allowing Odor to score from third putting Venezuela up 4-2.

In the bottom of the ninth, the never say die Italy team scored a quick run on a solo shot from Liddi, but were unable to get any closer, allowing Venezuela to win the game and advance to the second round.

It was a tough loss for an Italian team that played extremely well in the Classic, but just feel short.

Venezuela now advances to Pool F with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the United States.

David Conde
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