Team Italy suffers 11-7 loss to WBC Pool A host Chinese Taipei
10/03/2023 3 Minute Read

Team Italy suffers 11-7 loss to WBC Pool A host Chinese Taipei

After the 6-3 extra-inning victory over Cuba the night prior, Team Italy returned under the lights at a sold-out Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taiwan and lost its first WBC game to host Chinese Taipei by a score of 11-7 on Friday, March 10, 2023

Having been defeated by Panama 12-5 two nights prior, host Chinese Taipei sought redemption at home against the Italians in WBC Pool A play. Taiwanese starting pitcher Shao-Ching Chiang got two quick outs in the top of the first inning before Azzurri slugger Vinnie Pasquantino attempted to stretch out a single hit in the gap between left and center field and was called out at second base.

Team Italy manager Mike Piazza started pitcher Ryan Castellani, who gave up a solo home run to Li Lin in the bottom of the first inning to give Chinese Taipei an early 1-0 advantage. 
The Italians answered with two runs in the top of the second inning. After back-to-back singles by Dominic Fletcher and Brett Sullivan, Nicky Lopez hit a sacrifice bunt to allow Dominic Fletcher to score from third base. Then Ben DeLuzio connected with an RBI triple to put Team Italy in front 2-1. 

Chinese Taipei tied the game in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single by Tsung-Che Chang. The home team threatened for more after a single by the hot-hitting Li Lin put runners on the corners. Azzurri pitcher Ryan Castellani fought back and got Tzu-Wei Lin to fly out to left field to end the inning. 

Lefty reliever Wei-Chung Wang entered the game in the top of the third inning and enjoyed an easy 1-2-3 out inning. Team Italy also went to the bullpen in the bottom of the third inning and brought out Joe Biagini, who surrendered a double to cleanup hitter Yu-Chang Chang and a single to Nien-Ting Wu. Then back-to-back RBI singles by Chieh Chen and Po-Jung Wang gave Chinese Taipei the 4-2 lead. The Italians called for reliever Stephen Woods Jr. to stop the bleeding, but an ensuing infield error by third baseman Nicky Lopez allowed another run across the plate. 

Down 5-2 in the top of the fourth inning, Team Italy needed to chip away at the three-run deficit.   After Dominic Fletcher walked and Brett Sullivan singled, Nicky Lopez hit an RBI bloop single to center field. The speedy Brett Sullivan advanced to third base on a flyout to shallow center field by Ben DeLuzio and scored on an RBI single by Miles Mastrobuoni. Then Sal Frelick drilled a two-run double in the gap between right and center field to give the Italians the 6-5 lead.   

Reliever Stephen Woods Jr. returned to pitch a hitless bottom of the fourth inning. Chinese Taipei summoned lefty reliever Kuan-Yu Chen in the top of the fifth inning, but he was replaced by right hander Yu-Hsun Chen after issuing walks to Brett Sullivan and Vito Friscia with two out. Azzurri spark plug Nicky Lopez picked up his third RBI of the game when hitting an RBI single up the middle and giving Team Italy a 7-5 cushion. 

Italian pitcher Stephen Woods Jr. came back to throw another scoreless inning in the bottom of the fifth. With two out in the top of the sixth inning, David Fletcher chased reliever Yu-Hsun Chen out of the ballgame when hitting a single. However, the reliable infielder was later picked off by lefty Yen-Ching Lu while attempting to steal second base. 

Workhorse Stephen Woods Jr. appeared again on the mound in the bottom of the sixth inning. After the dangerous Li Lin was granted a walk, the equally lethal Yu-Chang Chang hit a two-run home run over the center field wall to tie the contest 7-7. 

Chinese Taipei regained the 8-7 lead when scoring one run in the bottom of the seventh inning. After Azzurri long reliever Stephen Woods Jr. walked Chieh Chen, Team Italy went to the bullpen and summoned lefty Joey Marciano. Consecutive singles from Chin Cheng, Kun-Yu Chiang and Kuo-Chen Fan produced the go-ahead run for Chinese Taipei. The Azzurri infield once again came to the rescue when executing a textbook 6-4-3 double play and limiting the damage. 

A walk to Sal Frelick with two out in the top of the eighth inning prompted Chinese Taipei to bring in closer Chia-Had Sung, who induced a soft ground out by David Fletcher to end any potential Team Italy rally.

Chinese Taipei broke the game open in the bottom of the eighth inning when scoring three runs. Reliever Joey Marciano pitched around Yu-Chang Chang for a walk. Nien-Ting Wu followed with a single to put runners on the corners. Then catcher Kungkuan Giljegiljaw slugged a three-run homer over the center field wall to make it a 11-7 game. Italian-born and developed pitcher Claudio Scotti replaced Joey Marciano and surrendered a double to Chieh-Hsien Chen but kept Chinese Taipei from expanding its commanding advantage.

Brett Sullivan collected his third hit of the game in the top of the ninth inning, but a strikeout of pinch-hitter Robel Garcia by Chia-Had Sung secured the 11-7 victory for Chinese Taipei. 


With the heart wrenching loss at the hands of the home team, Team Italy (1-1) is brought back on short rest for a battle against Panama (1-2) on Saturday, March 11, 2023 at noon (local time) or Friday, March 10, 2023 at 11 pm (EST). Forza #Italia!

by Roberto Angotti


(Photo of Chinese Taipei celebrating after WBC win over Italy by IABF)