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Team Italy defeats Netherlands and advances to U15 Euro Baseball Championship final against Germany

Despite being the underdog when facing the previously undefeated Netherlands (3-1), Team Italy (2-2) proved to be the better team by beating the Dutch 5-3 in the U15 European Baseball Championship semifinals at Steno Borghese Stadium in Nettuno on July 19, 2019.

In the other U15 Euro semifinal game, Germany (4-0) defeated Czech Republic 13-2. Team Italy and Germany will now face off in the U15 European Baseball Championship final, which takes place on July 20 at 7 pm (local time). The teams met earlier in the Euro tournament on July 17 when Germany narrowly defeated Team Italy 8-6.  

As a result of being the top two teams in the U15 European Baseball Championship, Team Italy and Germany have earned berths to the 2020 U15 Baseball World Cup.  After placing fifth in the 2017 European Baseball Championship, Team Italy U15 manager Roberto De Franceschi embarked on a mission to find the best youth players in the country. He said before the first pitch, “We scouted over 300 kids during a two-year process. We have no excuses, we need to make the final." It appears the Italian skipper’s search has paid off as the team has punched a ticket to both the 2019 Euro Championship final and the 2020 U15 Baseball World Cup.

In the U15 European Baseball Championship semifinal game against the Dutch, Team Italy manager Roberto De Franceschi called on starting pitcher Alessandro Ercolani. Despite striking out two hitters in the top of the first inning, Alessandro Ercolani surrendered a trio of run-producing singles to give Netherlands an early 2-0 lead. The Italian starter battled back and did not allow another earned run while on the mound and striking out another five hitters before his departure late in the bottom of the seventh inning. Closer Tommaso Adorni was just as effective in shutting the door on the Dutch.   

In the top of the fourth inning, the Team Italy offense erupted for three runs to take a slim 3-2 advantage.  Tommaso Adorni tripled and Nicola Spagnolo walked. A failed pickoff attempt and throwing error by the pitcher resulted in Tommaso Adorni crossing the plate and Nicola Spagnolo advancing to third base. An infield error allowed Nicola Spagnolo to score and Filippo Venditti, who had singled in his first at-bat, to reach first base. Alessandro Ercolani followed with an RBI double to bring Filippo Venditti home.

The Dutch scored an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie the game 3-3. Team Italy answered with an unearned run in the top of the sixth inning to regain the lead 4-3. Tommaso Adorni reached first base on an infield error and advanced to third base on a pair of groundouts by Nicola Spagnolo and Matteo Giovanelli. Then Tommaso Adorni raced home from third base to score on a wild pitch.

Team Italy added an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning. Alessandro Ercolani led off with a single and advanced to second base on a sacrifice by catcher Lorenzo Lambertini. Alessandro Ercolani later scored on an infield error which allowed Cristian Laghi to reach second base and the Italians to win 5-3. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen

by Roberto Angotti

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