Italy drops an extra inning Super game to Netherlands, misses finals

In spectatular fashion, a great Italy team came up just short against the Netherlands, losing 6-5 in ten innings in a key Super Round game. Combined with the Pool loss to Spain, Italy came up short in the tie breaker, and missed the final where again the Netherlands needed 10 innings, topping Spain 3-2 to become European Champions.

The Dutch scored first in the first inning against Italian starter Luca Panerati, as De Caster launched a solo homerun to left field. Italy threatened with two basefunners in the second, while Panerati gave up a triple but stranded the runner.  In the third inning after a leadoff walk, Panerati would be relieved by Da Silva who pitched five masterful scoreless innings, allowing his team to come back.

Italy's response was in the sixth inning, when Epifano lead off with a single, Liddi singled, and then Ramos drove in Epifano with a single and Vaglio drove in Liddi with a sacrifice fly. In the seventh, Liddi lead off with a double, and Ramos drove him in with a single off reliever Van Mil for a big insurance run, and Italy stood six outs away from a needed victory clinging to a 3-1 lead.

But in the 8th Florian relieaved Da Silva and walked the only batter he would face, before giving way to Teran. A hit by pitch followed by a run scoring double by Kemp brought the Netherlands to within one run, but still had Italy three outs from victory.

In the ninth inning, Italy got the first out on a strikeout, followed by an infield hit and a hit batter. Pugliese came in for Teran and got the second out on a strikeout, but a wild pitch advanced the runners, and an infield hit by Sams tied the game before the third out came, forcing the game to extra innings and the controversial tie-break rule.

In Italy's tenth they scored two runs without a hit thanks to a throwing error on Epifano's steal, and a Sambucci sacrifice fly. The Netherlands would respond with three decisive runs, starting with an infield single to load the bases, but then a Kemp double play scored one run, but again had Italy one out from victory. But a Van Der Meer single to center would tie the game, and he would come around for the game winning run on an Garia single.

The tough loss left Italy needing help on Saturday to reach the finals, but despite topping the Czechs 3-2, Spain's victory over Germany assured Italy of coming just short of the championship game, and dreaming of the one extra out or bit of luck in the ninth or tenth innings of what was one of the most exciting games in recent memory.