Thursday March 7 featured some exciting baseball with Italy making a comeback, the Dominican blasting its way to victory, and the Dutch stunning powerhouse Cuba. However, Friday’s action kicked off with what we like to call free baseball or extra innings.
Round 2 – Tokyo, Japan
Japan 4, Chinese Taipei 3 (10)
Two powerhouse teams from Asia squared off with the loser facing elimination in the next game, and it lived up to what everyone thought it would be.
It was a pitching duel the entire game. Chinese Taipei starter Chien-Ming Wang pitched brilliantly again tossing six scoreless innings allowing just six hits. Japan went a different direction using pitchers with no pitcher reaching the three inning mark. They came in firing and struck out ten batters over the first seven innings.
It wasn’t until the third inning when Chinese Taipei scored on a bases loaded walk. They loaded them up on a double, a hit by pitch, and a walk. They made it 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning when Cheng-Min Peng singled to center driving in Che-Hsuan Lin who had doubled earlier.
That’s where the score would stay until the top of the eighth inning.
Japan got the inning started with a single to center by Hirokazu Ibata. Seiichi Uchikawa followed him up with a single of his own setting up slugging catcher Shinnosuke Abe who drove in the first run for Japan with a single to right field.
Then we started playing Asian small ball. Yoshio Itoi tried to sacrifice the runner over but failed as Chinese Taipei pounced on the bunt and threw out Uchikawa at third. Lucky for them they did because the next hitter, Hayato Sakamoto, singled in the tying run.
So now we head to the bottom of the eighth inning tied at two.
It didn’t take long for Chinese Taipei to take back the lead. Masahiro Tanaka had pitched two solid innings for Japan striking out four, but he couldn’t get another out. Peng singled to lead off the inning. Chih-Sheng Lin doubled putting runners at second and third, and then Szu-Chi Chou singled to center to give Taipei the lead back once again, and Tanaka was done.
The bullpen for Japan came in and shut down Chinese Taipei the rest of the way. However, now they trailed 3-2 in the top of the ninth.
With one out Takashi Toritani walked. One out later he stole second base setting up the hero of the day, Ibata who singled in the tying run.
In the tenth inning, Japan played small ball again. After a single and a walk, Japan used a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly to score the eventual winning run off of the bat of Sho Nakata.
Chinese Taipei threatened in their half of the tenth putting runners at first and second with one out, but Toshiya Sugiuchi got a double play ground ball to end the game and earn the save.
Pool D – Phoenix, Arizona
Canada 4, Italy 14 (8)
A day after stunning Mexico with a ninth inning comeback, Italy blasts Canada run ruling them after eight innings of play.
Italy pounded out 17 hits including four doubles and a home run en route to the blowout win.
Alex Maestri started for Italy and pitched three solid innings allowing just one run on three hits. He picked up the win.
Canada starter Shawn Hill didn’t fare as well lasting just 2.2 innings giving up two runs on two hits to take the loss. The big blow to Canada came when Scott Mathieson allowed four runs in 1.1 innings in relief of Hill.
Mathieson gave up the big blow when Italy first baseman Chris Colabello blasted a three-run home run with two outs in the third inning. That came after an Alex Liddi RBI single and made the score 5-1 Italy.
The game was close for awhile as Canada scored one in the sixth and two in the seventh to pull within 6-4. But after that, Italy really turned it on.
In the bottom of the seventh with the score 6-4, Italy scored three runs to stretch the lead to 9-4. It all started with two quick outs. Then the hit parade began. Colabello singled. Mike Costanzo walked. Then Mario Chiarini singled to score Colabello. Then Drew Butera, who homered in the first game, doubled in both Costanzo and Chiarini.
That was only the beginning for Italy.
Leading 9-4 heading into the bottom of the eighth, Italy would score five more runs to end the game due to the 10-run rule.
All but one hitter for Italy collected a hit, but he score twice. Seven hitters picked up two or more hits led by Colabello’s four hits. He also finished with four RBI. Chiarini collected three RBI.
The win puts Italy in the drivers seat for advancing to the second round from Pool D. They have one game left with USA on Saturday night.
Pool C – San Juan, Puerto Rico
Spain 0, Puerto Rico 3
Spain looked to have opening day jitters and in the end it cost them.
Puerto Rico struck for three runs in the bottom of the first off of Spain starter Sergio Perez, and that would be all they would need for the victory.
Carlos Beltran got it all started with a RBI double down the right field line driving in Angel Pegan who had singled to open the game. After Yadier Molina reached on an error, Mike Aviles drove in the second run with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Perez then issued one of his four walks, in two innings, loading the bases for Carlos Rivera. Rivera too was walked giving Puerto Rico a 3-0 lead, and that is where it would stay the rest of the way.
Perez took the loss throwing 62 pitches in just two innings. He walked four, hit one, and gave up three runs (one earned) on three hits. Richard Salazar came in to pitch great in relief tossing five shutout innings allowing just two hits.
Giancarlo Alvarado pitch four scoreless innings for Puerto Rico to pick up the win. Alvarado allowed only one hit and struck out four. Xavier Cedeno came in to get the final out to earn the save.
Puerto Rico only picked up six hits in the game, but they walked five times and stole four bases.
Pool D – Phoenix, Arizona
Mexico 5, USA 2
Mexico got the scoring started right away in the top of the first. Lead off hitter Eduardo Arrendondo, who gave the US fits all night with three hits, led of the game with a single. He immediately went to third on a double by Ramiro Pena and scored on a Luis Cruz sacrifice fly. Adrian Gonzalez then hit a weak ground out to drive in Pena from third.
In the top of the third it was more Arrendondo. He once again led off the inning with a single to left. He would score again three batters later when Adrian Gonzalez launched a Dickey offering over the center field wall for a two-run home run.
The USA tried to battle back. In the bottom of the fourth, David Wright picked up a two out RBI with a single into right center field driving in Jimmy Rollins who had led off the inning with a single of his own.
Mexico got the run right back in the top of the fifth inning. Glen Perkins came into relieve Dickey and once again nobody could get Arrendondo out. He led off this inning with a double. Pena sacrificed him to third, and Cruz drove in his second run on another sacrifice fly.
The USA looked flat and not too ready for live pitching. At the same time, Yovani Gallardo was brilliant. He lasted just 3.2 innings due to a 50 pitch limit set by the Milwaukee Brewers, but he looked very good striking out four and giving up only two hits.
Gallardo picked up the win. The Royals Luis Mendoza pitched two good innings of relief continuing his success in 2013 after winning the MVP of the Caribbean Series. Sergio Romo picked up the save with a scoreless ninth.