After defeating New Zealand 7-3 on day five of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Junior Women’s World Championship (JWWC) in Clearwater, Florida, Team Italy U19 survived elimination by beating 11th ranked Brazil 5-4 at the Eddie C. Moore Complex on July 29, 2017. The young and talented squad now must return tonight in another single elimination game against the Dominican Republic in order to advance and play again tomorrow in the international 26-country tournament. Team Italy U19 manager Enrico Obletter had to be pleased with the way his players performed under pressure in extra innings knowing the game could have been their last with a loss to the Brazilians.
In the top of the first inning, the Italians threatened to score early after leadoff hitter and sparkplug Laura Vigna doubled over the center fielder’s head; however, she was left stranded on second base preventing her giving Team Italy starting pitcher Carlotta Salis a one-run cushion to begin the game. Lefty Carlotta Salis pitched with confidence despite giving up a run in the bottom of the first inning.
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the third inning, Team Italy came close to scoring again when Elisa De Trombetti was down in the count 0-2 and punched a single through the infield before stealing second base. Yet with the runner in scoring position, the Italians failed to tie the game up.
Starter Carlotta Salis surrendered two more runs in the bottom of the third inning before pitcher Sara Riboldi was summoned from the bullpen in relief with a runner in scoring position. All it took was one golden pitch from Sara Riboldi to get Team Italy out of the jam.
With Team Italy behind 3-0 in the top of the fourth inning, Andrea Howard tripled to deep right field and later scored on an RBI groundout from Giorgia Migliorini. The speedy Susanna Soldi legged out a double to left center field to get in scoring position, but she remained at second base without adding to Italy’s first run of the game. Relief pitcher Sara Riboldi held the Brazilians scoreless in the bottom of the fourth inning to keep it a close 3-1 game.
In the top of the fifth inning, it appeared Team Italy was ready to break the game wide open. Elisa De Trombetti walked and Francesca Cumero singled. With runners on first and second, Laura Vigna put down a perfectly executed bunt for a single to load the bases. Unfortunately, the Italians did not capitalize on the opportunity and did not score. In the top of the sixth inning, Team Italy needed runs in a hurry with time running out. Susanna Soldi singled up the middle of the infield, and pinch hitter Alessandra Rotondo doubled. Later Susana Soldi scored and Alessandra Rotondo advanced to third base on a passed ball. An RBI single to right field by Elisa De Trombetti tied the game 3-3. Francesca Cumero followed with an infield single, but Team Italy did not cash in for any more runs.
In the bottom of the seventh inning with bases loaded and one out, Team Italy reliever Sara Riboldi escaped a potential loss when infielder Alessandra Rotondo caught a line drive shot at second base and quickly tossed to Andrea Howard at first base for a 4-3 double play to end the inning and the possible Brazil walk-off win. With the game deadlocked 3-3 at the end of regulation, the game went into extra innings. In the top of the eighth inning, Elisa Princic was placed on second base, and Alessandra Rotondo singled to center field. Then Elisa DeTrombetti sacrificed to move the runners to second and third base. Francesca Cumero came through under pressure with a two-run RBI single, which gave Team Italy a 5-3 lead. With a runner placed on second base to start the bottom of eighth inning, relief pitcher Sara Riboldi managed to limit Brazil to one run to ensure a slim 5-4 Team Italy victory.
With the win over Brazil, Italy’s record bumps up to 5-3 in the weeklong tourney. Team Italy returns tonight to play the Dominican Republic in the 9th through16th place pool competition. Should the Italians be victorious, they will have survived another day and earned the right to play again tomorrow in the last day of the tournament to determine the final standings. Forza Italia!
by Roberto Angotti