Gavin Cecchini, Drew Maggi, and John Andreoli give Team Italy a lot to smile about before the Olympic Baseball Qualifier opener against South Africa at Stadio Nino Cavalli in Parma on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at 8 pm. Despite placing second in the recent European Baseball Championship after suffering a 5-1 loss to three-time defending Euro champion Kingdom of the Netherlands in the championship final game in Bonn, Germany on Sunday, September 15, 2019, Team Italy manager Gilberto "Gibo" Gerali was not discouraged by his Azzurri squad's overall performance. Having been undefeated (7-0) prior to the first pitch against the Dutch, Team Italy gave up a grand slam to lose the game in what otherwise was an evenly matched contest against Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Having since added the dynamic duo of New York Mets 2012 #1 MLB draft pick Gavin Cecchini along with ambidextrous MLB pitcher Pat Venditte to the Italian roster for the Europe-Africa Olympic Baseball Qualifier in Bologna and Parma from September 18-22, 2019, Team Italy now possesses two secret weapons that could very well prove to be the difference in paving the #RoadtoTokyo with a win over Kingdom of the Netherlands and ultimately a berth to the 2020 Olympics.
Even more dangerous is the combination of Italian baseball brothers Gavin Cecchini, Drew Maggi, and John Andreoli. The last time this awesome threesome did some serious damage together on the baseball diamond was against Mexico, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico at the 2017 World Baseball Classic in Jalisco, Mexico. Gavin Cecchini started at shortstop in every game. He was the unsung hero who played solid defense alongside third baseman Alex Liddi. Drew Maggi appeared in three games as a utility player (shortstop, left fielder, and pinch runner). He led Team Italy with a .400 batting average. Outfielder John Andreoli went 6-for-16 with three home runs, five runs scored and seven RBI in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He had the walkoff hit which sent the hardcore Mexican fans home from the sold-out Estadio de Beisbol Charros de Jalisco in disbelief after the Italians came back from a four-run deficit to beat Mexico 10-9.
Now is the time for the trio and the rest of the Azzurri baseball squad to shine again in the Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifier. The #RoadtoTokyo for Team Italy begins in Parma at Stadio Nino Cavalli for the Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifier opener against South Africa on Wednesday, September 18 at 8 pm. Then Team Italy travels to nearby Bologna for a battle at Stadio Gianni Falchi against Czech Republic on Thursday, September 19 at 8 pm. The Italians return to Stadio Nino Cavalli in Parma for a pair of games beginning with a clash against Israel on Friday, September 20 at 8 pm followed by a contest against Spain on Saturday, September 21 at 8 pm. The rematch between European baseball powerhouses Italy and Kingdom of the Netherlands takes place at Stadio Gianni Falchi in Bologna on Sunday, September 22 at 8 pm. The top finisher in the round-robin tournament earns the right to be the lone Europe-Africa representative in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen #RoadtoTokyo
by Roberto Angotti