Italy prolongs European title vs. Dutch
ROTTERDAM (Neth.) -
Italy registered a convincing 8-3 victory on Sunday-afternoon in the final of the European Championship against the Dutch Baseball Team to prolong its title, which it had captured two years ago.
With the win in the final, Italy extended its winning streak against the Orange to four games.
During the 2010 Championship in Germany, Italy won 11-3 in the Final Round, then captured the title by winning 8-4 in the Final.
On Saturday-evening, Italy closed the Final Round with a 4-3 win, then won again today to become the champion again and won its tenth European title in history.
Saturday's win was the 50th in history by Italy against the Dutch, meaning today's became win number 51.
In 124 games played, the Dutch won 72, while one game ended in a tie.
...Italian captain Mario Chiarini (right)...
...holds the Championship Trophy...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
And so, while being the reigning World Champion, the Dutch Team was left empty handed again in the European Championship.
The Dutch now have to lick their wounds and have to wait two years to bring back home the European title, when the Championship is held in the Czech Republic.
While the dates and sites are not known yet, the 2014 Championship probably will be held somewhere in July and/or early August.
For Italy, Saturday's win was the first against the Orange on Dutch soil since July 27, 2003, when the team won 4-3 in Haarlem during the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Saturday's win was the first by Italy against the Orange squad during an European Championship on Dutch soil since July 13, 1995, somewhat over 17 years ago!
On that date, in Haarlem, Italy won 12-9 in 10 innings in the Play-Offs.
Hereafter, the Dutch won the next three games against Italy in the final series to win the Championship-title.
1995 was the last tournament in which the Championship was decided in a best-of-five.
It was only the second time in history that the Dutch Team was beaten twice by Italy during an European Championship on home soil.
35 years ago (!), in Haarlem, Italy won three games in a row to win the Championship after the Orange had won the first two games of the best-of-five final.
Initially, the Dutch Team had a good start.
In the top of the first inning, Hainley Statia doubled down the rightfield-line with one out, moved on a wild pitch and scored on a sac-fly by Kalian Sams.
In the bottom of the first at bat, Dutch starter Shairon Martis gave up lead-off singles to Juan Carlos Infante and Lorenzo Avagnina through the rightside of the infield.
But then Martis recovered strongly and struckout the next three batters to get out of the jam.
The second inning also went the Dutch way.
In the top of the at bat, Dwayne Kemp singled with one out and stole second base, but was left.
But in the bottom half, the Dutch defense turned a double play after an one-out single.
The double play was turned by short stop Nick Urbanus, who afterwards was named Outstanding Defensive Player of the Championship.
However, from the third inning on, the game turned the way of Italy, which from that moment on controlled it throughout the end and gave the Dutch only a few scoring opportunities.
A few plays went the way of Italy, resulting in Dutch Manager Brian Farley having a few discussions with French 1B Umpire Frank Lautier after the latter ruled the batter-runner safe in a double play-situation.
While the plays at first base were close, TV-replays showed that Lautier probably was right.
Farley also ran into a discussion with Austrian/American Home Plate Umpire Dana Beszczynski.
Italian starter and American-born John Mariotti retired the side in the top of the third, then was supported with three runs in the bottom of the inning.
Stefano De Simoni led off with a double and advanced on a sac-bunt.
He then scored the tying run on a single by Avagnina, who went on to steal second base and advanced on a wild pitch.
Next, Anthony Granato walked and moved on a passed ball.
Chris Colabello followed with a single to bring in Avagnina and put Italy ahead, 2-1.
The bases got loaded when Tyler LaTorre also walked and that marked the end for Martis.
Juan Carlos Sulbaran took over and saw Mario Chiarini hit a force play-grounder, but that enabled Granato to score the third run.
...Dutch Manager Brian Farley...
...argues with Umpire Frank Lautier...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
In the fourth inning, Quintin de Cuba homered with two outs to narrow the deficit to 3-2, but in the home of the fourth, things went worse for the Orange, as Italy rallied for five runs to take a commanding lead.
Alessandro Vaglio led off with a single and moved on a sac-bunt, then Infante was hit by a pitch.
Avagnina followed with a double through the rightside to bring in a run.
A force play was then created by loading the bases via an intentional pass for Granato.
A flyout then accounted for the second out, but LaTorre followed with a 2-run single and Chiarini added a 2-run double to increase the lead to 8-2.
It brought in another new pitcher, as Tom Stuifbergen took over and got Gabriele Ermini to groundout and end the inning.
In the next four innings, Stuifbergen did a fine job and silenced the Italian offense.
Stuifbergen, who pitches in the organisation of the Minnesota Twins, struckout five batters and gave up only two more additional basehits to the Italians.
From the fifth through eighth inning, Stuifbergen retired 10 batters in a row.
The string broke with two outs in the eighth inning, when Lorenzo Avagnina singled to register his fourth basehit of the game.
Avagnina went 4-for-5, scored twice, had two RBI's and was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
But Stuifbergen's fine appearance came too late, as on the other hand, the Dutch Team was unable to do something back.
Mariotti, who is one of three active pros in the Italian squad, retired the side again in the fifth.
He then saw Hainley Statia reach on an error to lead off the sixth, but followed with three outs.
This season, Mariotti was 10-1 pitching for Quebec in an Independent League.
From 2007-2010, Mariotti pitched in the organisation of the Baltimore Orioles.
The other two active pros in the squad are catcher Tyler LaTorre and first baseman Chris Colabello.
LaTorre this season played for the Fresno Grizzlies, the Triple-A team of the San Francisco Giants, where he hit .278.
Colabello played for New Britain Rock Cats, the Double-A team of the Minnesota Twins, where he hit .294 with 19 homeruns, 78 runs scored and 98 RBI's.
Colabello's father Lou played for the Italian squad in the seventies.
Like Mariotti, LaTorre and Colabello are American-born.
On its roster, Italy had eight American-born players, one who was born in Canada, one in Brazil and two in Venezuela.
Besides the three active pros, ten players played professionally in the past.
Except for the three pros, all other players played in the Italian Baseball League the last few years.
An important addition to the Italian squad is former Major Leaguer Mike Piazza as its Hitting Coach.
Piazza, who turned 44 on September 4, played 16 seasons (1992-2007) in the Majors for Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins, New York Mets, San Diego Padres and Oakland A's.
Piazza was with the Marlins for only one week.
After being traded by the Dodgers, the Marlins traded him to the Mets, with whom he played in the World Series against the New York Yankees in 2000.
The Yankees then won the 'Subway Series'.
Piazza played in 1912 Major League-games, hitting 2127 basehits, including 427 homeruns.
396 of these homeruns, he hit as a catcher, which is a Major League-record.
Piazza, the 1993 National League Rookie of the Year, played in 12 All Star Games and was voted the MVP of the All Star Game in 1996.
In 2006, the catcher played for Italy during the first World Baseball Classic.
Since 2009, he is the Hitting Coach of the Italian squad.
...Mike Piazza is interviewed by Grand Slam-Webmaster...
...and Telegraaf-reporter Marco Stoovelaar...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
,,The Netherlands have a quality team, it is tough to beat them, they are the world champion'', Piazza said afterwards.
,,This title give me a good feeling.
I like to help the players get better, improve.
It is a lot of fun to me helping them get better.''
In the seventh inning, Chris Cooper took over the pitching from Mariotti and retired the side.
In the eighth, he gave up a 2-out double to Hainley Statia, his second in he game.
Despite a slightly injured knee, Statia went 2-for-4.
Because of his injury, which he sustained after a collission at first base in the game against Spain, Statia didn't play at short.
Nick Urbanus moved from second base to short, while Dwayne Kemp played at second base.
But with Statia at second base, the inning ended when Curt Smith flied out.
In the ninth inning, still trailing 8-2, the Dutch Team managed to add its third run.
Facing new pitcher Marco Grifantini, Kalian Sams led off with a double and moved when Wesley Connor flied out.
Sams then scored when Quintin de Cuba also doubled to make it 8-3.
Grifantini was relieved by Nick Pugliese, who saw Dwayne Kemp flyout, then struckout pinch-hitter Bryan Engelhardt to end the inning and the game and seal the championship.
Dutch Manager Brian Farley of course was disappointed.
,,We came here to win. I'm not satisfied, the coming days, we will evaluate where things went wrong.
But I'm not looking for excuses, Italy simple was better than we were today.''
Farley would like the format of the European Championship's final returns to a best-of-five series.
,,Winning 17-0 and 15-0 is fun, but it doesn't give you the satifaction as opposed to winning against teams like Italy.
In a best-of-five, you can show the depth in your pitching staff and you see the character of people.
The difference in today's game was the big inning in which Italy scored five runs.
With the pitching we had available today, I didn't expect to bring in a third pitcher already in the fourth inning'', Farley said.
The coming week, it is back to business for Farley.
,,I'll take Monday off, but then we have to compile to 60-man preliminary roster for the World Baseball Classic, which has to be handed in this week'', Farley said.
Best Hitter: Francisco Figueroa (Spain), .600
Best Pitcher, ERA: Luca Panerati (Italy), 0.00 (13 innings pitched)
Best Pitcher, Won-Loss Pct.: Luca Panerati (Italy), 2-0
Most Runs Batted In: Dewis Navarro (Spain), 6
Most Homeruns: Kai Gronauer (Germany), 1 (11 players with one, Gronauer had least at bats)
Most Stolen Bases: Kalian Sams (Netherlands), 2
Most Runs Scored: Francisco Figueroa (Spain), 6
Outstanding Defensive Player: Nick Urbanus (Netherlands)
Most Valuable Player: Lorenzo Avangnina (Italy)
(awards were based on statistics from the games played by the teams who qualified for the Final Round)