After defeating Spain 13-3 on day four of the nine-day European Baseball Championship in Bonn, Germany, Pool B top-seed Team Italy prevailed in a 11-4 victory over Belgium on September 11, 2019 to advance to the quarterfinals. Team Italy (5-0) will play Pool A fourth-place finisher Germany (2-3) in the quarterfinals on Friday, September 13 at 7 pm.
Another victory for Team Italy will move the squad on to the semifinals against the winner of the Israel (4-1)/France (3-2) game on Saturday, September 14 at 7 pm. Pool A top-seed Netherlands (4-1) must defeat Belgium (2-3) in order to play the winner of the Spain (4-1)/Czech Republic (3-2) game in the semifinals.
Against Belgium in the final game of the preliminary round, Team Italy manager Gilberto "Gibo" Gerali used the fifth pitcher of his five-man rotation, Bolzano right-hander Angelo Palumbo. He threw five scoreless innings and limited Belgium to just two hits with six strikeouts and one walk before handing the ball off to relief pitcher Yomel Rivera in the top of the sixth inning.
Team Italy took possession off the contest in the bottom of the first inning when John Andreoli drove a line-drive homer well clear of the left field fence into the bleachers for the first run of the game. The Azzurri offense came back firing in the bottom of the fourth inning with four runs to take a 5-0 advantage. After back-to-back walks to designated hitter Alberto Mineo and left fielder Mattia Reginato, catcher Beau Maggi hit an RBI double. Right fielder Federico Celli followed with a walk to load the bases for Team Italy. Then Azzurri captain Alessandro Vaglio delivered a three-run double.
Team Italy was hungry for more in the bottom of the sixth inning. After Mattia Reginato led off with a single up the middle, Beau Maggi hit his second RBI double of the game. Alessandro Vaglio brought Beau Maggi home with an RBI single to make it 7-0. Left-handed reliever Yomel Rivera entered the game in the top of the seventh inning and was effective in keeping Belgium both off-balance and off the board during his brief inning appearance.
Belgium finally scored its first run in the top of the seventh inning when Sam Boerman launched the first pitch offered by Nick Pugliese over the left field fence. The Belgium offense erupted for three runs on four hits off reliever Mattia Aldegheri, who eventually regained his composure and ended the top of the eight inning with a strikeout.
Team Italy answered with four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. After an RBI single by Azzurri sparkplug Aldo Koutsoyanopulos, 2019 European Championship RBI leader (14) Chris Colabello connected with a three-run no doubter deep into the left field bleachers to give Team Italy a comfortable 11-4 lead. Despite surrendering a leadoff double, reliever Filippo Crepaldi pitched a scoreless ninth inning to end the game.
Team Italy will hold a practice on September 12 before the start of the European Championship Quarterfinals the following day. The 2019 European Baseball Championship continues through Sunday, September 15 and culminates with the European Baseball Championship final game at 7 pm. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen #RoadtoTokyo
by Roberto Angotti