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Team Italy settles for silver in the U15 Euro Baseball Championship but earns berth to 2020 World Cup

Undefeated Germany (5-0) beat Team Italy 10-3 in the U15 European Baseball Championship final at Steno Borghese Stadium in Nettuno on July 20, 2019. It was the second time the Germans had taken down the Italians during the five-day international competition. Despite an unfavorable result in the Euro final, Team Italy earned the right to accompany Germany as the European representatives in the 2020 U15 Baseball World Cup.

Azzurri U15 manager Roberto De Franceschi selected Elia Sartini to start on the mound. He surrendered three runs in the top of the first inning. Down 3-0, Team Italy answered with two runs in the bottom of the first inning to close the gap 3-2. Leadoff hitter Alessandro Beccari walked, Nicholas Bertoldi singled, and Tommaso Adorni walked to load the bases for Nicola Spagnola. The cleanup hitter hit into a 6-4-3 double play which drove in the first run for Team Italy. Alessandro Ercolani followed with a walk. A failed pickoff attempt at third base led to an infield error and Nicholas Bertoldi crossing the plate for run number two.

Team Italy starter Elia Sartini showed signs of resilience in the top of the second inning after the German leadoff hitter doubled. Azzurri pitcher Elia Sartini dug deep and struck out the next three batters to end the scoring threat. He ended up striking out a total of seven batters during his four innings of work.

The Italians came back in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game up 3-3. After pinch-hitter Matteo Colalucci singled to center field, Alessandro Beccari and Matteo Giovanelli walked to once again load the bases for Nicola Spagnolo. This time around he reached first base on an infield error which allowed Matteo Colalucci to score from third base.

After giving up a double and a walk in the top of the fifth inning, Team Italy starting pitcher Elia Sartini was replaced by reliever Leonardo Belardi. A wild pitch allowed the German runners to get into scoring position. Leonardo Belardi regained his control and struck out the first batter he faced; however, an RBI single put the Germany on top 4-3. Leonardo Belardi ran into trouble in the top of the sixth inning so Team Italy skipper Roberto De Franceschi summonded Sebastiano Catellani from the Azzurri bullpen with runners on the corners. After getting one out, he was replaced by reliever Diego Luciani. An ensuing triple, single, and home run put the game out of reach as Germany took a commanding 9-3 lead. Pitcher Nicholas Bertoldi stopped the bleeding and closed out the game yielding one run in the top of the seventh inning to make it a 10-3 game.

Team Italy played with heart throughout the Euro Championship and should be proud for putting up a good fight against Germany and beating the Netherlands in the semifinals. In the battle for the bronze, the Netherlands (4-1) shut out the Czech Republic 3-0 to take third place in the U15 European Baseball Championship. The young and talented Team Italy squad will have the opportunity to turn the tables on Germany in the 2020 U15 Baseball World Cup. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen

by Roberto Angotti

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