Italy was eliminated from the 2013 World Baseball Classic on Wednesday night in Miami after a late inning comeback from Puerto Rico. The win keeps Puerto Rico’s hopes alive to reach the Championship Round in San Francisco if they can win one more game.
Pool 2 – Miami, Florida
Italy 3, Puerto Rico 4
The game started off as a pitching duel between both starters. Alex Maestri of Italy pitched 4.1 innings of scoreless ball giving up just three hits. But after 68 pitches he was pulled in the fifth inning with two runners aboard. Reliever Chris Cooper was able to come in a shut down Puerto Rico not allowing a run in the fifth.
Italy struck first in the top of fifth inning loading the bases on singles from Anthony Granato and Chris Denorfia along with Nick Punto reaching on a catcher’s interference. With one out and the bases loaded, up stepped Anthony Rizzo who one-hopped the wall in right center field for along bases clearing double.
Puerto Rico got their first run an inning later. With two outs and runners at the corners, Carlos Rivera hit a ground ball to shortstop Granato that looked like it would end the inning. However, Granato didn’t charge it at all and the ball played him skipping off his glove into center field allowing Yadier Molina to score from third base.
Things started to fall apart for Italy in the bottom of the eighth inning. Carlos Beltran led off the inning with a walk. Yadier Molina followed him up with a single to right field putting runners at the corners for Mike Aviles. Aviles grounded into a force play at second base allowing Beltran to score from third making the score 3-2.
Luis Figueroa was brought in to pinch-hit facing Venditte and immediately drove in the tying run with a sacrifice fly.
Next up was Alex Gonzalez who hit a bouncing ball between third and short that was slightly deflected by third baseman Alex Liddi. Italy shortstop Granato was able to come up with the ball off the deflection but by the time he readjusted and made the throw to first, it was too late and Alex Rios had scored to give Puerto Rico a 4-3 lead.
Fernando Cabrera came in to get the last out in the ninth striking out Liddi capping off the comeback and earning the save. Hiram Burgos pitched 3.2 innings in relief allowing just three hits and striking out four to pick up the win. Sweeney took the loss.
The loss sends Italy home and sends Puerto Rico into the next elimination game. They will face the loser of the USA vs. Dominican Republic game on Friday night.