With just three games left to go in the semifinals round, just one game separates the Rimini Pirates from T&A San Marino for that second and final finals bid along side UnipolSai Bologna, who have also locked up home field advantage. This weekend it will be the Rimini Pirates locked up in a home-away-home series beginning on Thursday evening in Rimini, while T&A San Marino will have to hope for the best on the road against Lino’s Coffee Parma on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
T&A San Marino at the moment finds themselves just one game back of the Rimini Pirates with only three games left on the schedule in the semifinals round, making this next weekend the decisive one with T&A heads to Parma for three, and the Pirates take on Bologna in a home-away-home matchup. If these two clubs finish with identical wins and losses at weekends end, it would be San Marino who would be heading to their 4th consecutive final in hopes at their 4th consecutive IBL Championship, but if it is Rimini who can keep their distance in the standings they will be given anther shot at finally walking away with the top prize after coming up empty against T&A San Marino over the past two season. With all this said, both of these clubs are somewhat limping into this weekend with a number of question marks to be answered with their respective rotations. For the Rimini Pirates both Corradini and Ekstrom are having arm issues, and with the possible suspension of Sandy Patrone, they could find themselves in high seas against Bologna come Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. As for T&A San Marino, the ‘Big Ifs’ are Chris Cooper and Delgado, defiantly two names are going to be needed by the defending champs if they are going to have a shot at a 4th consecutive IBL title run.
Parma has shown again and again that they are able to compete with the other three semifinalists, but at the same time there’s something that this team is missing. The balance of the risks that Parma takes on the bases to counteract an offense that doesn’t produce (.217 team batting average) has turned negative in this semifinals round after having been the formula for success in the regular season. In 20 stolen base attempts over the past 15 games only 10 have gone on to a successful conclusion. Parma’s offence has also come up short on a number of sacrifice occasions and finally haven’t gotten the offensive production that they were hoping out of Renato Imperiali (.167 average) and their left-handed power bat, Camilo, who is hitting just .250 since joining the club at the end of June.
Moving onto Bologna now, the first club to have assured themselves a spot in this year’s Italian Baseball Series with a dominant 12 and 3 mark in the semifinals round. The huge contributor to this club success has been an offense that has come alive after being dormant in the regular season. With the new addition of Trent Oeltjen who has hit an impressive .321 with 14 RBI’s the rest of the bunch has followed suit of which includes double digit RBI’s by Liverziani, Vaglio, Ambrosino and Rodriguez. Bologna’s potent offense added up with a mound that has impressed all year long is going to make them a favorite heading into the Italian Baseball Series.
Rimini chances at a third consecutive finals bid rest in the fate of their Ace, Mike Ekstrom. If Ekstrom isn’t up to par come this weekend, Rimini’s one game advantage over the T&A San Marino may disappear in the blink of an eye. That’s not the end of the story for the Pirates, with Sandy Patrone expecting a suspension, the Rimini Pirates may find themselves in deep water with a lack of arms in the pen heading into their final weekend matchup with UnipolSai Bologna. On the offensive side of the ball Rimini is going to have to count on a big performance by Romero (.380 batting average with 14 RBI’s), and also hope that the likes of Mazzanti, Bertagnon and Salazar can bring a little bid more to the table in respects of what they have been offering up so far in this semifinals round, as they are all hitting around a .200 mark.
T&A San Marino kept their hopes at a fourth consecutive championship alive after they walk away with two wins last week in Rimini, which brought them to just a game back of the Pirates in their push towards the Italian Baseball Series. This club has had to battle through a number of injury issues this year, but have thus far held their ground for the most part. In question for this weekend against Lino’s Coffee Parma will be will be Delgado on the bump, who is still battling knee problems. Also certain to miss Thursday evening matchup is Francesco Imperiali who will be serving a one game suspension after being tossed in last weeks game against Rimini. If San Marino wants in to the finals then they are going to have to do one better then Rimini, a task that is much easier said then done, especially seeing as if they will have to match up with Josè Sanchez and Jesus Yepez for Parma.