Team Italy completed their warm up week for the IBAF World Cup with a 2-2 record. Italy was based at Vero Beach Sports Village and played in Jupiter, Viera and at "Halmond Stadium" in Vero against teams made of Instructional League players for the Florida Marlins and the Washington Nationals.
Italy was off a slow start and lost the first game (2-0) against the Marlins. The offense gave only 5 hits as a support to a pitching staff that made the young Marlins go scoreless for 6 innings.
A wild outing by Marco Grifantini set the pace in the second outing. The Marlins scored 3 runs in the first at bat and never looked back, combining 13 hits and allowing only 6. The final score was 6-3.
The first win arrived in the third game. Italy faced the Washington Nationals, who took a chance to give some at bats to their top prospect Bryce Harper. Actually, the 9.9 million dollar baby provided almost all of the offense the Nats could count on against 5 italian pitchers. Tiago Da Silva, who won 2 games in the Italian Baseball Series, proved particularly sharp. Italy got 12 hits, with Ramos Gizzi, Imperiali and Mazzanti posting a multi hit game, and won 8-2.
In the 4th game Italy looked a little tired and allowed 4 runs on a couple of defensive errors. But the azzurri were able to stay in the game and came back in the 9th with a couple of runs that guaranteed the 5-4 win. Cincinnati Reds Minor Leaguer Luca Panerati pitched 3 perfect innings, strucking out 5. Mario Chiarini hit a home run and Ramos Gizzi collected another multi hit game.
"Results do not count too much in these games" said manager Marco Mazzieri "But of course we like to win. I believe the team proved they are ready and this makes me happy".
Mazzieri should give the ball for the debut game against the Dominican Republic to Tiago Da Silva, but hasn't thought of a long term plan: "We cannot afford it. We are going to play 7 finals and we will have all of the pitchers always ready"
This is the final World Cup roster for Team Italy:
PITCHERS (11) Cooper, Giovanni D'Amico (Grosseto); Panerati (Dayton Dragons-A Cincinnati Reds); Cicatello, Grifantini (Parma); Cillo, Pugliese (Fortitudo BO); A. Pizziconi (Burlington Royals-A Kansas City); Richetti (Nettuno); Da Silva (San Marino); Maestri (Lincoln Saltdogs-American Association)
CATCHERS (2) Bertagnon (Parma); Angrisano (Fortitudo BO)
INFIELDERS (6) Mazzanti (Nettuno); Infante (Fortitudo BO); F. Imperiali, Granato, Pantaleoni, Ramos Gizzi (San Marino)
OUTFIELDERS (5) Chiarini (Rimini); Avagnina, Chapelli (San Marino); Ambrosino (Nettuno); Castellitto (Fortitudo BO)