Italy shows no Mercy
ORLANDO, FLORIDA -- ITALY inflicted a mercy rule defeat over Australia in its opening game of the World Baseball Classic tonight.
It was, as David Nilsson ruefully noted, as tough a loss as you would wish to endure as Italy emerged with an unexpected 10-0 win.
Not only did the Italian pitchers shut down the Australian offence, they handcuffed them to one hit in a comprehensive victory.
Under the rules of the World Baseball Classic, the game was called in the bottom of the seventh when Thomas Gregorio, who pinch hit for All Star catcher Mike Piazza, laced a run-scoring double.
Gregorio’s double pushed the Italian scoreline into double digits and, mercifully, for the Australians brought an end to a game that never left the tarmac let alone reached the lofty heights the team had hoped.
Italy’s starter Jason Grilli and reliever Ricardo De Santis held the Australian’s to a solitary hit – a double by Trent Durrington – during a combined seven innings.
Grilli, who has pitched in the majors with Florida, Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers, struck out seven and allowed just the Durrington hit in his 4.2 innings work.
De Santis, who has never played professionally in the States, threw a two and a third innings of no-hit ball and fanned two.
Australian manager Jon Deeble said full credit went to the Italians who swung the bats aggressively, pitched extremely well and took advantage of some errant defence.
“They have a major league team and played accordingly,” Deeble said.
“They outplayed us across the board.”
The Italians banged out 12 hits, including home runs to centrefielder Vincent Sinisi and third baseman Mark Saccomanno while Toronto Blue Jays veteran Frank Catalanotto chipped in with a single and a triple.
Piazza had a double, a walk and two ground outs.
Nilsson described the loss as “extremely surprising and disappointing”, but he said nothing should be taken away from the Italians.
“You have to give them credit, they played very well,” Nilsson said.
“They swung the bats very well and their starting pitcher really threw the ball well and put them in a good position to get the win.
“It’s extremely disappointing on our behalf to not even compete and to not even make it close.”
Grilli set the tone for his time on the mound when he struck out the first two Australian hitters – Trent Oeltjen and Durrington – both looking at third strikes.
It would prove a recurring theme as Piazza used his experience behind the plate to full advantage and the home plate umpire gave the Italian pitchers the outside corner.
Six of the nine Australians struck out were struck out looking, including Glenn Williams twice. Justin Huber also struck out in two of his three at bats.
The Italians retired the first 10 batters before Durrington’s double to the right field fence, but Grilli and De Santis then retired the next 11 batters.
Outfielder Dustin Delucchi and Toronto Blue Jay infielder Frank Menechino ended Australian starter John Stephens’ evening in the bottom of the second when Italy rushed to a 3-0 lead.
Stephens said he just didn’t have the control he wanted and as a consequence paid wasn’t able to get out of the second inning.
“I just missed my spots, not by much and a couple more inches would have been a different game,” Stephens said.
“But it’s just tough when you go out there and you don’t have that location. And, I definitely need that.”
Deeble used four more pitchers – Paul Mildren, Adam Bright, Rich Thompson and Craig Anderson – but none were able to contain the free-swinging Italians.
Australia has a rest day tomorrow before it plays Venezuela, who lost 11-6 to Dominican Republic yesterday in the other Pool D match.
|Kingman b- PH-DH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Fingleson a- PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mildren, P P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
2B: Durrington (1, Grilli).
TB: Durrington 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Nilsson.
Team LOB: 1.
E: Brice (1, fielding), Harman (1, throw).
|Stephens (L, 0-1)||1.2||2||3||3||3||0||0||16.20|