In the opener of the four-game Baseball Series in Spain, Team Italy lost to the host country 7-6 at Sant Boi ballpark in Barcelona on September 1, 2019. Team Italy got on the board early in the top of the first inning when Sebastiano Poma led off with home run. Azzurri captain Alessandro Vaglio doubled but was left stranded on second base without scoring.
Team Italy manager Gilberto “Gibo” Gerali sent out Azzurri patriarch Alessandro Maestri, who pitched three scoreless innings. In the top of the fourth inning, the Team Italy offense came to life and scored three runs to take a comfortable 4-0 advantage. Giuseppe Mazzanti led off with a walk. Federico Celli followed with a two-run homer over the left field fence. Then Nico Garbella reached first base on an infield error and scored on an RBI double by Sebastiano Poma.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Matteo Bocchi entered the contest and surrendered two runs to make it a 4-2 game. Lefty Michael Johnson made his Azzurri pitching debut in the bottom of the fifth inning. Despite giving up a lead-off home run, the Italian American pitcher looked good with two groundouts and a strikeout to end the inning.
Team Italy catcher Beau Maggi led off the top of the sixth inning with a solo home run to give the Italians a 5-3 advantage. Reliever Mattia Aldegheri was summoned from the bullpen in the bottom of the sixth inning and gave up one run to trim the slim Team Italy 5-4 lead.
In the top of seventh inning, Team Italy slugger Chris Colabello reached second base on an infield error. He advanced to third base on a groundout by pinch hitter Aldo Koutsoyanopulos and later scored when pinch hitter Federico Giordani reached first base on another infield error.
With a 6-4 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning, pitcher Mattia Aldegheri returned to the mound for an easy 1-2-3 out inning. Team Italy skipper Gibo Gerali called for left-handed reliever Valerio Simone, who successfully held the Spaniards scoreless in the bottom of the eighth inning. Azzurri closer Nick Pugliese came in the bottom of the ninth inning to preserve the two-run Team Italy lead, but instead he gave up a two-run home run followed by a walk-off solo shot to take the 7-6 loss to Spain.
Team Italy returns for a pair of games against Spain on September 2 and 3 at 5:30 pm (local time). The Baseball Series conclude on September 4 at 11 am (local time). Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti