In the third and final afternoon Arizona Spring Training exhibition contest against a group of prized Oakland Athletics prospects at Mesa's Hohokam Stadium on March 23, 2019, Team Italy was defeated 8-2. Azzurri baseball manager Gilberto “Gibo” Gerali put together a lineup card which revealed Mattia Mercuri at shortstop, Alessandro Vaglio at second base, Leo Zileri in right field, Chris Colabello as designated hitter, Alex Sambucci at first base, Aldo Koutsoyanopulos in left field, Federico Celli in center field, Alessandro Deotto behind the dish, Filippo Agretti at third base, and Angelo Palumbo on the hill.
Team Italy starting pitcher Angelo Palumbo threw two innings and allowed one run with one strikeout and four walks. Reliever Michele Pompani retired one batter before reporting muscle soreness to physiotherapist Massimo Baldi, who came to the aid of the ailing pitcher and suggested taking him out of the ballgame. Italian skipper Gibo Gerali summoned Nico Garbella to make his pitching debut for Team Italy. The Oakland A’s took advantage of the situation and quickly scored three runs before adding another four runs when reliever Filippo Crepaldi assumed pitching duties. The bleeding stopped when relief pitchers Yomel Rivera and Murilo Gouvea held the Athletics scoreless.
The Team Italy offense was highlighted by former Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Federico Celli’s perfect 3-for-3 performance. His solo home run and RBI single accounted for the Azzurri squad’s only two runs. Teammates Alessandro Deotto, Alex Sambucci, and Aldo Koutsoyanopulos also showed signs life at the plate with hits. Team Italy continues its Arizona Spring Training exhibition game schedule with a pair of contests at Hohokam Stadium against the Grand Canyon University Antelopes on March 25, 2019 at 1 pm and the Paradise Valley Community College Pumas on March 27, 2019 at 2 pm. The Azzurri close out with back-to-back clashes with Toros de Tijuana on March 28 and 29, 2019 at 1 pm. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti