The Dominican Republic takes off in the World Cup with a 7-0 win against Italy. The azzurri made it close until the bottom of the 7th, when a grand slam by dominican right fielder Mendez off Alessandro Maestri took off the drama from the last couple of italian at bats.
Italian starter Tiago Da Silva deserves a lot of credit for keeping the dominicans off balance thanks to a very wise mix of his fastball and an off the table change up. Unfortunately for Italy, the defense did not help the San Marino hurler too much and the Dominican Republic could score their 2 runs against him taking advantage of a couple of plays by first baseman Mazzanti that where not particularly smooth.
Italy could not take the lead in the first, despite a very good contact by left fielder Avagnina off dominican starter Angel Castro, when center fielder Freddy Guzman turned the line drive in a fly out. But the negative turning point of the game for Marco Mazzieri's side was the top of the 6th, when Mazzanti struck out with the bases loaded.
In the bottom of the 7th Maestri took the mound for Italy with 2 on and no one out. Guzman bunted the runners to second and third and Maestri intentionally walked the bases loaded. With 2 outs, a full count high fastball walked in the third run by the Dominican Republic. Then Mendez was up and took Maestri's fastball deep, over the right field fence to make the score 7-0.
"I was impressed by their starter" said dominican manager Denio Manzueta "Anyway, I have a team that has very good pitching, a good defense and can run. We are not going to dominate with our hitting".
"We tried our best" commented Italy's skipper Marco Mazzieri "But didn't get a break when we could, in a bases loaded situation. The grand slam? At that point of the game, Maestri was trying to be aggressive in the strike zone".
Italy plays their second game in Santiago on Monday 10/3 at 2 pm local (9 pm CET) against Australia.