Italy played an outstanding game and shut out (7-0) Australia to collect their first win of the World Cup. The 'aussie' reached third base only 3 times: in the first, seventh and ninth inning and Italy's starter Chris Cooper limited them to 3 hits over 6.2 innings. Three relievers pitcher the remaining 2.1 innings, but to Cooper's win was never actually at risk. Italy's defense starred with third baseball Juan Carlos Infante, who came up with a couple of big plays in key moments. Italian offense proved to be much more solid then they seemed in the debut against the Dominican Republic and combined nine hits, four of them doubles against three australian pitchers.
Cooper was off a wild start and walked the first and third batter of the game. Australia could not use anything allowed by Italy, including an error by center fielder Paolino Ambrosino on a shallow fly by aussie second baseman Brad Harman in the second inning, and Italy scored all the runs they needed to win in the bottom of the third. Infante, slugging Team Captain Mario Chiarini and veteran desginated hitter Jairo Ramos Gizzi all hit doubles to the opposite field and Italy put 4 runs on the scoreboard off starter Chris Oxspring, a 34 year old veteran who starred in Athens Olympics in the semi final against Japan, defeating 'Dice-K' Matsuzaka and had shut out Italy in the first round of the tournament.
Italy added three more runs. One in the seventh, off reliever Steve Kent, with center fielder Paolino Ambrosino, who got on with a one out double and ran his way home when catcher Alan de San Miguel didn't block a pitch in the dirt and overthrew to third in an attempt to prevent Ambrosino from advancing and sent the ball to left field. Two more runs came in the eight off Brad Erasmus, when italian catcher Juan Pablo Angrisano hit a two out sharp liner over the second base bag and took full advance of a catcher interference.
To make it a very special afternoon for Italy, shortstop Granato got the third out of the ninth on a spectacular diving catch to his right.
"If I liked my team ?" wondered Team Italy's manager Marco Mazzieri "I always like the guys, I have a great group of player and I do not expect to win every game. Today we played a brilliant game. I am particularly happy for Chris Cooper. He didn't have a great season, but he gave us so much in the recent past that I owed him a spot on the roster. And he didn't make me regret".
Italy's Captain Mario Chiarini comments Italy's performance: "We have a bunch of veterans in this line up. Against the Dominican Republic we were not brilliant and we knew we had to make adjustments. I remember Oxspring from the 2004 Olympics and I know he's had a great career. He pitched well, but we got to him with runners on base and our timely hitting made the difference today".
Italy will play their third game at 2 pm local time (9 pm CET) on Tuesday 10/4 in Chitre against Nicaragua. Cody Cillo will be the starting pitcher.