Team Italy defeats France in U18 European Baseball Championship

Team Italy defeats France in U18 European Baseball Championship
06/07/2021
Undefeated Team Italy continues to dominate Euro Baseball Championship Pool A play with a 9-6 victory over France in Montegranaro.

After defeating Lithuania the night prior in Macerata, Team Italy (2-0) traveled to nearby Montegranaro and beat France by a score of 13-6 in the U18 European Baseball Championship on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Italian manager Francesco Aluffi called on starting pitcher Riccardo Nepoti, who issued a leadoff walk but struck out the next three batters he faced in the top of the first inning..

The Team Italy offensive attack started early in the bottom of the first inning when the Azzurri cashed in on a series of walks and wild pitches to take a commanding 7-0 lead. Team Italy leadoff hitter Federico Ricci singled and stole second base. An RBI triple by Williams Wong put Team Italy on the board. A sacrifice fly by team captain Samuele Gamborini gave the Italians a 2-0 advantage. Both Samuele Bruno and Enrico Buin walked, stole second base, advanced to third and scored on wild pitches. Then Tommaso Adorni, Alessio Lollo, and Tommaso Nani were granted walks and scored on a base-clearing double by Federico Ricci.

Team Italy starter Riccardo Nepoti was not so lucky in the top of the second inning when France rallied for four runs. He regained his composure and threw a scoreless third inning before being relieved by Alessandro Ercolani. The Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect was tagged for one run in the top of the fourth inning but was impressive striking out three batters.

The Italians came back in the bottom of the fourth inning to score one run and make it a 9-5 game. Enrico Buin singled and Tommaso Adorni walked. They advanced on a double steal, but Enrico Buin was thrown out at home plate on a fielder's choice by Alessio Lolo. However, Tommaso Adorni later scored from third base on a wild pitch to put Team Italy on top 8-5.

Due to pitch count limitations imposed by his MLB franchise, Alessandro Ercolani was replaced by relief pitcher Diego Luciani in the top of the fifth inning He encountered control issues and allowed one run to cross to plate after a walk, hit batter, sacrifice bunt and wild pitch. An inning-ending strikeout crushed France's hope for more damage.

With a slim 8-6 lead, Team Italy scored an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Federico Ricci walked and advanced to third base on two wild pitches. Williams Wong followed with an RBI single to expand Team Italy's 9-6 advantage over France.

Team Italy reliever Diego Luciani got his groove back when he had an easy 1-2-3 out top of the sixth inning with one strikeout. The Italian offense went back to work in the bottom of the sixth inning. Tommasso Adorni led off with a single and took two bases on a wild pitch. Alessio Lolo walked and stole second base. As a result of the rundown between first and second base and Alessio Lolo avoiding the tag, Tommasso Adorni trotted home to score easily from third base for Team Italy's 10th run of the contest. Alessio Lolo also scored on an RBI single from Federico Ricci. Then Williams Wong singled, and Samuele Gamberini hit a two-run single to put Team Italy ahead 13-6.

Winning pitcher Diego Luciani (1-0) was pulled from the game in the top of the seventh inning after two strikeouts and two walks. Reliever Francesco Cappuccini induced a flyout to secure the victory. Team Italy (2-0) returns to Macerata for a Euro Pool A showdown against Kingdom of the Netherlands (1-0) on July 7, 2021. Forza #Italia!

by Roberto Angott

BOX SCORE

CALENDAR, RESULTS AND PLAY-BY-PLAY

STANDINGS

(Photo of Team Italy's Federico Ricci and Samuele Gamberini by Lynx Prod.)