Team Italy falls to Kingdom of Netherlands 2-1 in Haarlem Baseball Week debut

Team Italy falls to Kingdom of Netherlands 2-1 in Haarlem Baseball Week debut
08/07/2022
Team Italy kicked off Haarlem Baseball Week with a 2-1 loss to host Kingdom of the Netherlands on Friday, July 8, 2022

Team Italy played with heart against Kingdom of the Netherlands but fell short 2-1 at Pim Mulier Stadium in Haarlem on Friday, July 8, 2022. The Italians got on the board early in the top of the first inning when scoring one run. Leadoff hitter Ricardo Paolini singled up the middle off Dutch starting pitcher Lars Huijer. Philadelphia Phillies prospect Vito Friscia walked, and Team Italy captain Alberto Mineo walked to load the bases for first baseman Renzo Martini. The cleanup hitter hit a sacrifice fly to deep center to allow Ricardo Paolini to cross the plate. The offense fizzled out when Noel Gonzalez struck out and Federico Celli grounded into a fielder's choice.

National Baseball Hall of Famer and Team Italy manager Mike Piazza called on starting pitcher Christian Scafidi to face a strong Kingdom of the Netherlands lineup. After getting MLB veterans Roger Bernadina to fly out to left field and Wladimir Balentien to strike out, Sharlon Scoop singled and Denzel Richardson walked. Then Azzurri hurler Christian Scafidi surrendered a two-run double to Jeremi Profar to put the Dutch in front 2-1 at the end of one inning.

Christian Scafidi threw scoreless second and third innings before handing the ball off to reliever Matteo Bocchi, who gave up a single to Jeremi Profar but nothing more in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Team Italy appeared to miss out on an opportunity to tie the game when leaving a runner in scoring position stranded in the top of the fifth inning. DH Dario Pizzano led off with a walk and reached second base on a sacrifice bunt by Erick Epifano. Back-to-back strikeouts by pinch hitter Matteo Mercuri and second baseman Ricardo Paolini left the Italians high and dry.

Team Italy left-handed pitcher Maurizio Andretta entered the contest in the bottom of the fifth inning and looked impressive with his easy 1-2-3 out inning.

Trailing 2-1, Team Italy needed to get something going in the top of sixth inning with new Dutch pitcher Kevin Kelly on the mound. Vito Frescia singled to right field, but Alberto Mineo hit into his second double play of the game. Then Renzo Martini struck out to quash any offensive spark.

The Dutch nearly added insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Kingdom of the Netherlands slugger Wladimir Balentien drilled the first pitch he saw from reliever Alex Bassani to deep center field for a stand-up double. The Italian pitcher then dug deep and struck out Sharlon Scoop. After a visit to the mound by pitching coach Bobby Cramer, Alex Bassani issued intentional walks to Denzel Richardson and Jermi Profar to load the bases. Then John Polonius popped up and Dashenko Ricardo struck out to end the scoring threat.

Team Italy made a last-minute effort to rally with two out in the top of the seventh inning when Dario Pizzano legged out an infield single, but Erick Epifano succumbed to an end-of-game strikeout.

ITALY-NETHERLANDS BOX SCORE

Team Italy returns to action on Sunday, July 10, 2022 at 12 noon (local time) when clashing against USA. The Italians battle Curacao on Monday, July 11, 2022 at 3:30 pm (local time) before taking on defending champion Japan the following day at 12 noon (local time). Team Italy concludes Haarlem Baseball Week Opening Round play against Cuba on Wednesday, July 13, 2022 at 12 noon (local time).

The top four teams will qualify for the semifinals on Thursday, July 14, 2022 at 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm (local time). The two winners will go head-to-head in the Haarlem Baseball Week Championship on Friday, July 15, 2022 at 7 pm (local time). The two losers will play in the Bronze Medal Game earlier in the day at 2 pm (local time). Forza #Italia!

by Roberto Angotti

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(Photo of Team Italy at Haarlem Baseball Week against Kingdom of the Netherlands by El Tambor Mayor)