(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)
Venezuela comes-from-behind, eliminates Italy and reached the Second Round
ZAPOPAN, Jalisco (México) -
Venezuela came from behind to win 4-3 against Italy in the tie-breaker game on Monday-evening (March 13) in Pool D of the World Baseball Classic.
Venezuela trailed 2-1 after eight innings!
With the win, Venezuela became the second team to qualify for the Second Round, which will be played in San Diego, California (USA).
Venezuela joins Pool-winner Puerto Rico.
On Tuesday, Puerto Rico opens the Second Round against Pool C-winner Dominican Republic.
Venezuela now also will travel to San Diego, where it will meet the USA on Wednesday, while Italy has been eliminated and will return home.
Four years ago, Italy reached the Second Round and finished in seventh place in the overall standings.
In the bottom of the first inning, Italy opened the score.
John Andreoli (Triple-A, Chicago Cubs) led off with a ground-rule double and scored on a following single by Daniel Descalso (Arizona Diamondbacks).
With one out, Rob Segedin (Los Angeles Dodgers) also singled, but two runners were left behind.
Italy stranded another runner in scoring position in the second inning.
Drew Maggi (Triple-A, Los Angeles Dodgers) then doubled with two outs, but stranded.
Italian starter A.J. Morris (Cincinnati Reds) retired the first nine batters he faced.
He then hit Ender Inciarte (Atlanta Braves) with a pitch in the fourth, but was supported with a double play.
The same situation happened in the fifth.
This time, Victor Martinez (Detroit Tigers) led off with a walk, but another Italian double play followed.
In the sixth, Trey Nielsen (Double-A, St. Louis Cardinals) took over the Italian pitching for Morris, but he saw Venezuela come alongside.
Nielsen walked Alcides Escobar (Kansas City Royals), who then advanced when Odubel Herrera (Philadelphia Phillies) reached on an error, but he was forced out at third base on a grounder by Robinson Chirinos (Texas Rangers).
A following single by Ender Inciarte made it an 1-1 tie.
Italy, which had left several baserunners, re-took the lead in the seventh when Andreoli homered with one out.
After eight innings, Italy still had the minimal 2-1 lead, but that changed moments later.
Mike DeMark took the mound for Italy, but was greeted with a lead-off homerun by Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers), that made it 2-2.
Hereafter, Victor Martinez walked and was replaced by pinch-runner Yangervis Solarte (San Diego Padres).
Next batter Rougned Odor (Texas Rangers) drove the ball into centerfield.
That brought home Solarte to give Venezuela a 3-2 lead, while Odor's hit was reviewed by the umpire to check whether or not it was a homerun.
The call was upheld and Odor stayed on first base with a long single, but Venezuela had taken the lead.
It also led to a pitching change, as Frailyn Florian took over.
He gave up a single to Carlos González (Colorado Rockies) that brought Odor to third base and he then scored an insurance run on a sacrifice bunt/squeeze by Aldices Escobar to make it 4-2.
In the bottom of the ninth, closer Francisco Rodríguez (Detroit Tigers) took the mound for Venezuela, but was greeted with a lead-off homerun by Alex Liddi that narrowed the deficit to 4-3.
Italy had come from behind in two earlier games, but this time was left empty-handed, as Rodriguez got three grounders from the next three batters to end the exciting game.
A dream come true for Dutch WBC-umpire Winfried Berkvens. (March 13)
Netherlands wins convincingly against Israel. (March 13)
Three teams qualify for 2nd Round; Tie-breaker Italy vs. Venezuela. (March 12)
Netherlands ends up short in extra innings vs. Japan. (March 12)
WBC-wins for Colombia, Venezuela & Dominican Republic. (March 11)
USA needs extra inning to win; Puerto Rico wins big. (March 10)
Cuba advances to Second Round WBC; Australia eliminated. (March 10)
Italy wins opener on walk-off single; Dominicans win big. (March 9)
Netherlands empty-handed vs. Israel; finishes 2nd in Pool. (March 9)
Orange in 2nd Round WBC after walk-off win; Israel also in. (March 8)
Netherlands opens WBC with shutout vs. South Korea. (March 7)
Israel upsets South Korea in WBC-opener with 10-inning win. (March 6)
Netherlands Team closes WBC-preparations with loss. (March 5)
Netherlands Team wins big in Korean exhibition game. (March 3)
Netherlands closes exhibition series in Arizona with loss. (February 25)
First game Netherlands vs. Twins ends in tie. (February 24)
Netherlands Team wins big in exhibition game vs. Geckos. (February 23)
Exhibition losses Netherlands Team in Arizona. (February 20)
Orange roster announced for World Baseball Classic. (February 8)
Netherlands Team to prepare in Arizona. (February 8)