UnipolSai Bologna took the top prize in the Italian Baseball League this past weekend when they beat out the Rimini Pirates 4 games to 3 in the best of 7 Italian Baseball Series. It is Bologna’s first league championship since 2009 when they took the title over San Marino, and their first finals appearance since 2010 when they lost 4 games to 3 to Parma after being up 3 games to 2, just as Rimini this year.
Looking back at the last two games of the Italian Baseball Series it’s easy to see who dominated in the scorebooks. Bologna out hit the Pirates 16 to 8, which resulted in the 2014 Champs also out scoring Rimini 12 to 1. On the defensive side of the ball it was two pitchers alone that recorded 53 of 54 outs, with Williamson in game 6 going into the 9th in an 8 to 1 win, and Rivero pitching a complete game 4-0 shutout in game 7 for the IBL title. The only other pitcher to see an out for Bologna was Crepaldi, who came on with 2 outs and a runner on in the top of the 9th in game 6. Crepaldi needed just 3 pitches to get Gomez to go down swinging for the final out of the game. Overall Williamson went 8.2 innings in his outing, throwing 154 pitches in game 6, allowing just a single. The righty gave up just 6 hits and struck out 10, as he was able to control the strike zone with over 60% of his pitches either crossing the plate or being swung at. Rivero’s numbers in game seven were actually the more impressive of the two, as he tossed up 106 pitches of which 72% were strikes, allowed just 2 hit, and gave up no runs… impressive for it being his first start of the year.
Earning the Series MVP was Bologna’s catcher, Guillermo Rodriguez. Rodriguez not only lead Bologna’s staff that dominated, but he also swung a hot stick (.379 Average) that plated 10 RBI’s with a .455 OBS%, and a .621 SLG%. Gueillermo had some very key RBI’s in game 4’s win (2 for 5 with 2 runs scored and 5 RBI’s, and game 6’s win (2 for 4 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI’s) and game 7’s win (2 for 4 with 1 run scored and 2 RBI’s).
Game 7’s victor, Raul Rivero come up huge for Bologna after having blown game 1 when he allowed a 4 run bottom of the 9th, as well as game 3 when he not only blew the save but also lost the game after being responsible for Rimini’s tying and winning runs. However, in game 7 Rivero was absolutely dominant in his first start of the year. Rivero faced just five batters over the minimum 27 in the game, allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks to his 12 strikeouts.
Game 7 of the Italian Baseball Series saw a loss by the Rimini Pirates that marked their fifth overall title lost in the last three years, three IBL Finals (San Marino 2012, 2013 – Bologna 2014) and two EU Champions Cup Finals (Bologna 2013 – San Marino 2014). Things could have been different however if they would have been able to count on their ace, Mike Ekstrom, down the stretch. Ekstrom supported a regular season ERA of 1.16 and a semifinals earned run average of .178, but was unable to take the mound for Rimini down the stretch due to shoulder problems.
In conclusion UnipolSai Bologna was the best team in Italy in 2014. Their overall record between the regular season and semifinals round was an impressive 30 wins to just 8 losses, while in the finals their winning percentages may not have been as eye opening, however 4 wins to 3 was just enough to claim Italy’s top prize.