A brave italian side played seven strong innings against Cuba. But it was not enough. Italy could not score despite getting to cuban All Star pitcher Fredy Alvarez with good contacts in the early innings. Where pitching didn't take the seleccion, it was Yuliesky Gourriel's turn to show why he is the secret dream of every single scout in the Major League circuit. In the second inning, he delivered three great plays in a row to keep Italy off the scoreboard.
The caribbean line up was able to punish every single mistake made by italian starter Carlo Richetti. Castillo and Abreu got the first two runs on the on the scoreboard on a couple of solo homers and Cuba didn't need to look back.
Italy looked ready on Alvarez 92 mile per hour fastballs. In the second, Gourriel went all the way behind the first base bag on a grounder by Ramos, dove to his right to turn a bullet hit by Mazzanti into an out and had the perfect timing on a blooper by Angrisano.
In the top of the third, on a 0-2 count, lead off hitter Rusney Castillo went to the opposite field for a solo homer.
First baseman Josè Abreu sent a rocket in dead center to lead off the fifth with another solo dinger.
Richetti left with Bell on first (walk) in the seventh and reliever Andrea Pizziconi, a 20 year old pitcher in the DBacks organization, sent Bell to second on a wild pitch and was then taken deep once again by Abreu, who scored Bell from second on a double to center field.
Pizziconi became wild in the eighth and Cuba didn't need a hit to collect two more runs and open the score.
In the bottom half of the frame left fielder Lorenzo Avagnina led off with a single to right and third baseman Giovanni Pantaleoni took Alvarez deep to left. Pantaleoni could not go beyond first, since he slid on the bag. A deep sacrifice fly to center by Angrisano scored anyway Avagnina from third.
"We played very well for seven innings" said Italy's manager Marco Mazzieri "But I did not like the last two. I cannot be happy, because I do not like to lose with honor, I am here to try to win games".
The team still has a lot of chances to advance to the second round: "We do have our chances. We face Korea tomorrow and Venezuela Saturday. We will play one game at a time".
"I was throwing a high fastball in the beginning and they got to me. I had to adjust" commented cuban starter Fredy Alvarez.
And you had Gourriel behind you: "When you play for Cuba, you are aware you have a great defense behind you. You have to respect italian hitters. This team came here ready to play".
Jose Abreu liked very much the atmosphere: "Honestly, I wouldn't have said we were not in Cuba".
You punished every single error of the italian starter: "You know, on the field you have players who hit third or fourth in the cuban Serie Nacional. He was pitching well, but we were ready when he gave us our chances".