With the Super 6 tournament looming in just five weeks, Team Italy manager Gilberto "Gibo" Gerali rounded up 22 of his Azzurri players for an exhibition game against the best baseball players from Friuli Venezia Giulia at Gaspardis Stadium in Ronchi dei Legionari (Gorizia) on August 8, 2018. Assisted by coaches John Cortese, Rolando Cretis, Augusto Media and Gianmario Costa, Italian skipper Gibo Gerali was more interested in getting an opportunity to see his squad play in a competitive setting than paying attention to the scoreboard in the 7-6 loss to the Friuli Venezia Giulia baseball all-stars.
Team Italy starting pitcher Alessandro Maestri got off to a rocky beginning in the top of the first inning with a leadoff walk to Marco Ghergolet followed by an RBI double from Ramon Bonilla and a two-run home run by Erickson Leonora. Like a true professional with experience pitching in North America and Asia, Azzurri patriarch Alessandro Maestri immediately regained his composure and struck out the next three Friuli Venezia Giulia batters. Mattia Aldegheri entered the game in the top of the second inning to pitch in relief and allowed one run in his 1.2 innings of work. Next came reliever Diego Fabiani, who looked strong striking out four of the six batters he faced. Pitcher Samuel Aldegheri also made an impression on the Team Italy coaching staff with two strikeouts during his scoreless inning. Unfortunately Davide Bertoldi did not have a memorable outing allowing three runs in two innings pitched; however, Ludovico Coveri and Filippo Crepaldi kept Team Italy in the game by throwing easy 1-2-3 out eighth and ninth innings..
Despite losing 7-6 to the Friuli Venezia Giulia baseball all-stars, the exhibition game was a great way to see resilient Team Italy come from behind in a valiant effort to overcome adversity. Down 3-0 in the bottom of the first inning, the Azzurri got on the board early with a solo home run from Nico Garbella. Friuli Venezia Giulia scored one run in the third inning and three more runs in the sixth inning to take a commanding 7-1 lead.Team Italy rallied to cut the deficit to one run after scoring five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. After designated hitter Nico Garbella walked, Chris Colabello singled and Giovanni Garbella walked to load the bases. An RBI fielder's choice by catcher Alessandro Deottto allowed Nico Garbella to cross the plate. After Riccardo Bertossi reached first base on a walk, second baseman Filippo Agretti and shortstop Ricardo Paolini delivered back-to-back two-run singles to make it a 7-6 game. The Team Italy rally was cut short in the end, and Friuli Venezia Giulia went on to win the contest. Although experiencing a loss in the Ronchi dei Legionari exhibition game, Team Italy manager Gibo Gerali was encouraged by what he saw late in the game with the stellar pitching of relievers Ludovico Coveri and Filippo Crepaldi as well as the explosive Azzurri offense coming to life. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti