Team Italy advances to WBC Tokyo quarterfinals after 7-1 win over Kingdom of the Netherlands
12/03/2023 2 Minute Read

Team Italy advances to WBC Tokyo quarterfinals after 7-1 win over Kingdom of the Netherlands

After suffering a 2-0 shutout to Panama the day prior at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium, the Italians returned for a win-or-go home game under the lights against Kingdom of the Netherlands on Sunday, March 12, 2023 and punched their ticket to the quarterfinals of the World Baseball Classic in Tokyo after defeating the Dutch 7-1

Before the first pitch, the odds against Team Italy were against them to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2023 World Baseball Classic in Tokyo, Japan. Not only did the Italians need to win the game against Kingdom of the Netherlands by three runs, but they would have to diffuse an explosive Dutch offense by not allowing more than four runs during the contest.

Team Italy manager Mike Piazza went to his ace starting pitcher Matt Harvey, who had pitched to many of the Dutch players in MLB. In fact, the Kingdom of the Netherlands players were a combined 8-for-34 against him with no home runs, one RBI and four strikeouts. Andrelton Simmons fared best off Matt “the Dark Knight” Harvey with a .333 batting average (2-for-6).  

Matt Harvey looked solid, striking out Kingdom of the Netherlands leadoff hitter Ray-Patrick Didder in the top of the first inning, Roger Bernadina in the top of the second inning and Xander Bogaerts in the top of the third inning. However, the long ball haunted him in the third inning when facing Chadwick Trump, who launched a home run over the right field wall to give Kingdom the Netherlands a 1-0 advantage. 

Dutch reliever Mike Bolsenbroek replaced starter Jaydenn Estanista and pitched a scoreless bottom of the third inning. He returned in the bottom of the fourth inning when a Team Italy offensive frenzy produced six runs.

Dominic Fletcher hit a ground rule double to right and scored on an RBI single by catcher Brett Sullivan. Vinnie Pasquantino followed with a line-drive single to center field. Then Vito Friscia was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Ben DeLuzio. An ensuing wild pitch allowed Dominic Fletcher to cross the plate. Back-to-back RBI singles from Ben DeLuzio and Sal Frelick made it a 4-1 game. The Dutch went to the bullpen and summoned Eric Mendez to face the hot-hitting Nicky Lopez, who collected his second hit with a two-run triple to put Team Italy in front 6-1. 

Andre Pallante relieved Matt Harvey in the top of the fifth inning and held the Dutch hitless. The hard-throwing right hander returned to pitch the sixth inning when he was replaced on the mound by lefty Joe LaSorsa after Ray-Patrick Didder singled, Jurickson Profar walked and Xander Bogaerts singled. A popout by Didi Gregorius, and strikeouts of Jonathan Schoop and Roger Bernadina ended the Dutch scoring threat with bases loaded. 

Kingdom of the Netherlands reliever Kevin Kelly escaped a dangerous situation in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out, Sal Frelick doubled and advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Then Nicky Lopez was issued a walk to put runners on the corners. The Dutch got out of the jam when David Fletcher hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. 

Team Italy summoned Vinny Nittoli out of the bullpen in the top of the seventh inning, and he did not disappoint by registering three strikeouts. Reliever Matt Festa appeared in the top of the seventh inning and was just as effective with two strikeouts. 

The Azzurri offense came back for more in the bottom of the eighth inning. Reliever Kevin Kelly walked Vito Friscia, who was replaced by pinch runner John Valente. Back-to-back singles by David Fletcher and Sal Frelick allowed John Valente to score and give Team Italy the 7-1 lead.  Closer Mitchell Stumpo entered the contest in the top of the ninth inning and secured the 7-1 victory with a game-ending strikeout of Ray-Patrick Didder. 


Team Italy now travels to Tokyo to face host Japan in the WBC quarterfinals at the Tokyo Dome on Thursday, March 16, 2023 at 6 am (ET). Forza #Italia!

by Roberto Angotti


Team Italy slugger Vinnie Pasquantino celebrates with the Azzurri squad against Kingdom of the Netherlands in the 2023 WBC (by RL/IABF)