On day one of the five-day U15 European Baseball Championship at Steno Borghese Stadium in Nettuno, Team Italy defeated France 19-8 in the nightcap on July 16, 2019. Italian baseball hall of famer and Team Italy manager Roberto De Franceschi knew from the first pitch the significance of this year’s U15 European Baseball Championship. Not only does winning the international tournament provide ample bragging rights, but more importantly the tourney serves as the gateway for the two top teams in the competition to the 2020 U15 Baseball World Cup.
Team Italy U15 manager Roberto De Franceschi took no chances and called on pitcher Alessandro Ercolani, who struck out six batters and limited the French to just two runs in 2.1 innings. The trio of relievers Matteo Colalucci, Simone Carnevale, and Diego Luciani sealed the deal for the win.
The Italian offense went right to work in the top of the first inning and scored six runs. France used three pitchers to combat Team Italy as control issues haunted the French. Walks, hit batters and errors were compounded by an RBI double Filippo Venditti and back-to-back singles from Alessandro Ercolani and Alessandro Beccari.
The Azzurri added another run in the top of the second inning when Tommaso Adorni reached base on an infield error and later came home on an RBI single by catcher Lorenzo Lambertini. Team Italy put the game out of reach in the top of the third inning after two more runs crossed the plate to give the U15 squad a commanding 9-0 advantage. A two-out rally ensued when Nicholas Bertoldi legged out an infield single. Then Tommaso Adorni followed with a walk. Both base runners advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch and scored on a two RBI single by cleanup hitter Elia Sartini.
After France scored twice in the bottom of the third inning to cut the Azzurri lead to 9-2, Team Italy got two runs back in the top of the fourth inning. Cristian Laghi led off with a walk and reached third base on a pair of wild pitches. Then Lorenzo Lambertini walked and stole second base. When the French catcher committed an error throwing to second base, Cristian Laghi easily scored. Lorenzo Lambertini was not far behind and scored on a wild pitch to put the Azzurri on top 11-2. Team Italy came back for more in the top of the fifth inning when Matteo Giovannelli doubled and later scored on two wild pitches to pad the 12-2 lead.
The French battled back in the bottom of the fifth inning and scored five runs. Team Italy answered with five runs in the top of the sixth inning to make it a 17-7 game. The Azzurri five-run offensive frenzy began with a leadoff home run by Tommaso Adorni. After back-to-back walks to Elia Sartini and Matteo Giovannelli, Filippo Venditti hit a two-run double to left field. Then Cristian Laghi was hit by a pitch. Filippo Venditti later scored on an error while Cristian Laghi crossed the plate on a series of wild pitches.
France squeeked out a run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Team Italy nailed the coffin shut with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh inning. Elia Sartini was hit by a pitch and later scored after a passed ball and two wild pitches. Matteo Giovannelli reached first base on a walk and also scored after an RBI groundout by Andrea Di Siero.
To the delight of the hometown crowd in Nettuno, the upcoming Team Italy U15 European Baseball Championship Pool A games will be played under the lights at 8 pm (local time). Team Italy returns for its most challenging feat in Pool A action when Germany takes the field on Wednesday, July 17. The Italians conclude division play against Russia on Thursday, July 18. The two top teams from Pool A will face off against the two top teams from Pool B (Austria, Czech Republic, Netherlands, and Slovakia) in the U15 Euro semifinals on Friday, July 19. The U15 European Baseball Championship final will take place on Saturday, July 20 at 7 pm (local time), while the battle for the bronze begins at 10 am (local time). Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti